The glittering ball fell at midnight and, once again, I made a pact with myself, though nothing particularly new.

Work out more consistently. Don't rush bedtime with my son.

And, at work, I decided to tackle a resolution as well – I've committed to making this my year to integrate more volunteer committees in our work.

Committee work often makes us groan. And it is true that it is often easier to do it yourself.

But easier is not always better.

We're building community every day, and it makes sense that a committee of passionate, diverse-thinkers (and doers) can build a stronger community better than I can myself.

So, I am going to work more with committees. But how?

According to Jan Masaoka, publisher of the board blog Blue Avocado, when you think committees, you should think “Dancing with the Stars.”

Think about the show: A professional dancer is paired with a celebrity, often an actor, athlete, or singer who typically isn't viewed as being a particularly great dancer. But the couple fails when the pro tries to compensate for the amateur dancer by dancing twice as well. Instead, the couple that wins has a routine that makes the most of the amateur's ability, and the professional supports that ability.

In other words, you can't do the work for the committees, rather you have to coach and partner with committees.

While there are tomes written on committees, I offer a few best practices:

  • Ensure each committee has a written charter defining and measuring its responsibilities.

  • Ensure that committees consist of at least three people to provide the capacity and diversity to complete tasks. All board members should serve on at least one committee, and it is a good idea to invite non-board members as a way to build your leadership pool.

  • Connect committee work to the nonprofit's mission and strategic goals.

  • Make sure committee chairs report on efforts at board meetings. Staff can coach and comment but shouldn't make the reports directly.

And, more than anything, do this:

Make committee meetings action oriented and interesting.

Post a comment

Please correct the following: