The Committee, Management Committee or Board (if you are a Company Ltd by Guarantee or Community Interest Company) is the governing body of a community group.
The volunteers that make up the committee are crucial to the running of any community group. They are the people responsible for taking care of the organisation on behalf of the members. They ‘govern’ the group. Everything they do is often referred to as ‘governance’. Governance is about setting long term direction, making sure that things are in place to keep that forward motion going.
If your group is small and unincorporated, your committee will be very hands on. They may be involved in actually delivering the services or activities your group provides. They still need to govern the group – ensuring that it has the resources to continue to thrive.
The committee or board of directors on a larger, incorporated group may be less hands on, but they will still be the ones responsible for ensuring that everything is in place for the group to keep going. The day-to-day management and delivery of services/activities may be delegated to other volunteers or even paid staff but it will be the board (or committee) that has overall responsibility.
The members that make up the committee may be called:-
- committee members – if your group is unincorporated
- directors - if you are a limited company (Company Ltd by Guarantee or Community Interest Company)
- charity trustees – if your group is a registered charity
Establishing Your Committee
When your group is in the process of getting started, it is often useful to have a steering group as the first ‘informal’ committee. They will do all the research and groundwork required to move things forward. Your group’s inaugural general meeting will usually be the platform for the election of the first committee members. They should be willing volunteers and ideally people with the required skills and experience to take forward the long term aims of the group.
Your group’s committee will usually be nominated or elected from your general members . This procedure will be set out in your group’s constitution (or governing document). How long your committee members can serve before they are required to step down and/or stand for re-election should also be included in your group’s constitution.
Ensuring your committee is up to the job
In theory, anyone over the age of 16 years in Scotland can become a committee member, but it will be up to the members of your group to make sure that whoever they elect/appoint to be on the committee (or board) is competent and fit for the role.
If your group/organisation is incorporated (for example as a Company Ltd by Guarantee or a Community Interest Company) some types of people are legally disqualified from becoming Directors on the board, they include:-
- anyone who is an undischarged bankrupt (except with leave of the court)
- anyone already disqualified from being a Company Director subject to a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking, under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986(c.46) or the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002
If your group is a charity registered in Scotland (or is considering an application to become one) there are additional disqualifications for anyone being elected or appointed to act as a Charity Trustee.
These are any person who:-
- has been previously removed from the office of Charity Trustee by the Charity Commission in England & Wales
It is a good idea to get new Directors/Charity Trustees to sign a declaration of eligibility prior to appointment and to ensure that these declarations are reviewed annually (for example after each Annual General Meeting).
Ideally, your group should aim for a committee that has a good mix of skills and experience amongst the members. Good committee members are volunteers who:-
- share the beliefs and aims of what your group wants to achieve
- have enthusiasm and commitment
- are honest, fair and have an understanding of equality and diversity
- have experience of book keeping and administrative work
- are skillful at diplomacy
- are good listeners - able to communicate effectively
- are not legally disqualified
Dividing up the job
To ensure that all the legal and management duties are carried out on time and efficiently, it is advisable for a committee to have designated roles. The four most common roles will be that of:-
- Vice chairperson
Other Community Toolkit Topics to look at:
Further sources of information
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Last Updated 04/02/2013 12:12