Board committees and their roles in a non profit organization

The board usually has separate committees set up for effective implementation and management of its various activities. The committees are smaller sub groups within the larger framework of the board and they act as specialized teams ,each handling its area of operations. Formation of committees makes the work of the Non profit organization more streamlined and increases accountability.Committees in a non profit organization may be formed keeping in view the administrative structure of an organization or in many instances are formed in accordance with certain important issues and long term vision of the organization.

A non profit may have various committees made to further its activities and vision. Appointment of people to different committees should be based on the past experience,skills ,interests and strengths of the members.All members in the committee have to make a serious commitment to participate in all activities of the committee.It is normally recommended that every board member should be part of at least one but not more than two committees at one time.Normally members will be appointed after consultation with the nominating committee.

There is no limitation on the size of a committee, however it would be prudent to select members based on needs of the board and a general assessment of the number of people required to complete the work that the committee is supposed to execute. Too many members will result in misuse of manpower and too less may result in the members being overworked and thus unproductive at times.

Members of a board committee of a non profit organization is usually comprised of board members,however even it may also include people who are not on the board such as members of the staff of the non profit and even prospective board members.

The board of a non profit organization can have various committees based on the activities it wishes to pursue however there are certain standing committees which are set up according to the by laws of the non profit. Some of the standing committees are as follows;

1.Executive committee
The executive committee forms the nerve center of all committees and sometimes even acts on behalf of the board of the non profit organization,although within strictly laid down guidelines and in between meeting. The committee presents before the board all items that need to be discussed and then approved by the full board.

2.Nominating committee
The nominating committee as suggested by its name works to identify and nominate members to the chair in various committees and also works to develop the potential and train prospective members.

3.Development committee
Mainly works as the primary body within the non profit organization that raises funds for its various activities. Has a very important role in the non profit since it leads the board members in all fund raising activities and is also instrumental ion drawing up a fund raising plan for the non profit organization.

4.Finance Committee
Another very important committee in the non profit organization,it works to keep a complete watch over and guide all financial policies and activities of the non profit. It studies and reviews the annual budget of the non profit,recommends all the financial guidelines to be followed and also monitors all the financial reports of the non profit organization.

5.Human resource committee
This committee takes care of all human resource issues of the organization,right from staffing,duties and responsibilities and all other personnel policies of the non profit organization. It advises the chief executive of the non profit on all such matters.

6.Audit committee
This board committee provides the board of the non profit organization with a overview of the annual audit process and audit report of the non profit and explains the audit report to the board.

7.Strategic Planning committee
This committee plays an important role in deciding the long term vision and plans of the non profit organization.It represents and coordinates the views of the entire board and then presents a report to the full board of all future activities that the non profit organization will undertake.

Apart from these standing committees there are also other committees that the non profit organization can form based on its vision and nature of activities undertaken.Committees such as the marketing committee,public relations committee and program committee are also popular options for committees in a non profit organization.All these committees will undertake their respective roles and will all work towards the common vision of the non profit organization.

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About the Author:


Adrian B. Bennett is an attorney and nonprofit consultant by profession. He provides development sector legal services in areas of formation of nonprofit organizations, choice of entity, tax exemption, private foundation tax law, corporate governance and advocacy. He serves as a legal adviser to several non profit organizations in and around Florida.

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3 Responses to “Board committees and their roles in a non profit organization”

  1. vincent seloane says:

    Dear sir/madam

    I’ve started a forum called: South African Young Professionals Forum (SAYPROF).

    The main reason to start this forum, was to ensure that all forums that exist within South Africa can have one voice, for intance when we campaign against or infavour of a particular government or company policy, it can be done in a consolodidative manner.

    I would like to have you as my mentor as the president of SAYPROF, through this difficult task I undertook. It is not easy, but I’m willing to take it on.

    The other thing: I need a strategy of approaching other forums to join us and become one and for them to operate as Sub-commitees or Desks of different proffesions.

    Your response will be highly appreciated.

    Kind regards

  2. Kennath says:

    Thank you for your article here.
    We just started a Center for Buddhist meditations and practice in Sothern california. we operate on the donations given by Buddhist communities in USA.
    We have a board of directors and a 20 commitee members engaged. we received non-profit status recently. my question is what are the prevailing laws that a non profit organizations follow on its commitee members in Recruiting, Terminating, Retaining, Status changing or in any other events incorporated with them?
    What are the specific qualifications they needed, what are the procedures and ethics that they should follow during the service, is there any specific tenure period for them required by the state or Fed. law?
    Please reply me to my given e-mail. Really appriciate your input on this.
    Thank you very much.,
    Kennath Walpita
    [email protected]

  3. Adrian B. Bennett says:

    Hi Kennath

    The list of employment related laws that a npo is supposed to follow is exhaustive. I would recommend you get a copy of nonprofit for newbies. It explains all procedures that you might need to follow.

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