What is the role of sub-committees?

The Management Committee must make all decisions affecting the organisation. However, some powers may be delegated to members, office bearers or to sub-committees.

A sub-committee is a small group of people assigned to focus on a particular task or area, such as finance or personnel. A sub-committee generally makes recommendations to the Management Committee for decision. However, if your governing document gives you the power to do so, the Management Committee may delegate aspects of decision-making to a sub-committee. Regardless, any decisions made by such groups remain the responsibility of the whole Management Committee.

Terms of reference and reporting

The terms of reference and reporting back procedures of any sub-committees should be laid down in writing, agreed by the Management Committee, and regularly reviewed. The terms of reference should clearly indicate the responsibilities and authority of the sub-committee.

It must be clear whether sub-committees can make decisions about particular matters or whether they can only make proposals or recommendations to the Management Committee.

Remember! Even when decisions are delegated to a sub-committee, the Management Committee remains ultimately accountable.

The Finance Sub-Committee

One of the most common sub-committees is the finance or finance and personnel sub-committee.

A finance sub-committee can spread the workload of the Treasurer, ensure more democratic control of finances, help to prevent fraud, and help train new committee members. It should include at least the Treasurer, another Management Committee member, a senior staff member, the person who deals with accounts and book-keeping, and those with major responsibility for funding and fundraising.

Some organisations have a separate fundraising sub-committee, which takes responsibility for funding applications and/or fundraising activities.

Remember, for the finance sub-committee to be effective, it must be clear what tasks should be carried out and by whom (e.g. the sub-committee, or staff or Management Committee).

More on the role of the finance sub-committee

Example terms of reference for a finance and personnel sub-committee.