Duties and responsibilities of members
Management committee/board members should understand their individual and collective roles, responsibilities and accompanying duties. They should have these clearly outlined in writing for all management committee/board members.
(Supporting principle to Principle 3 of The Code of Good Governance)
- The role of individual members;
- Supporting committee members; and
- The management committee and the organisation.
The role of individual members
How the role of management committee members is described may vary according to the size and nature of the organisation. However, all committee members are individually committing to:
• upholding the values and objectives of the organisation;
• giving adequate time and energy to the duties of being a trustee; and
• acting with integrity and avoiding or declaring personal conflicts of interest.
(Adapted from Good Governance: A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector).
If your organisation is a limited company, your Management Committee members are usually the Company Directors. More about the responsibilities of Company Directors.
As committee members, they will make decisions as a collective group and hold joint responsibility for decisions and actions taken by the management committee, even in their absence. They are responsible for ensuring that all decisions are taken in the best interests of the organisation and that their role is carried out effectively. Individual members should demonstrate selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership (known as The Nolan Principles).
Management committee members should have access to relevant information to support them in carrying out their responsibilities. This clarity should commence during the recruitment process, with provision of:
- a written role description;
- confirmation of the commitment required; and
- confirmation of the legal status of committee members and their personal liability.
This should be followed up in the induction process, ensuring the new member is well-equipped to carry out their role effectively. Many management committees also provide a committee handbook as a uniform reference point for all members. Click here for an example committee handbook.
How well do you understand your committee role?
Use our checklist to find out.
It is also important to have a training and development strategy in place for the management committee, ensuring that they remain sufficiently well-informed and skilled to effectively manage the organisation.
Look in the resources section below for an example new member information sheet and examples of committee member role descriptions. Further resources can be found under Principle 4: Performing, reviewing and renewing the management committee/board.
Supporting Committee Members
"A volunteer is someone who gives of their time freely and by choice, to help others (individual, community, environment) without concern for financial reward."
Management Committee members are volunteers. As with all volunteers, Management Committee members will invariably need support. The organisation should have an appropriate support system in place, which may involve the Chairperson or another committee member acting as a point of contact for specific areas.
It is good practice to have written role descriptions for Management Committee members and honorary officers, and to provide induction training. Support may also include reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses (check your governing document or policy of the organisation).
Remember, good support helps all Management Committee members work better as a team!
The Management Committee and The Organisation
The community and voluntary sector is made up of groups and organisations that have either:
no paid staff (and everyone’s a volunteer), or paid staff (ranging from one or two, to several hundred).
The diagram below illustrates how a Management Committee fits within an organisation employing staff and how communication channels work. Management committee members must have an understanding of the distinction between governance and management including the difference between their role as employer and the chief officer’s role as manager. Click here for summary details on each role.
The Management Committee, then, is ultimately responsible for the organisation. However, they often:
- delegate tasks to a sub-committee;
- seek external advice;
- delegate to staff; and
- delegate to volunteers.
Committee members need to ensure that there is clarity in relation to the task being delegated. Management Committees cannot delegate responsibility for decisions taken. It is therefore essential that sub-committees refer back to the full committee meeting where decisions are taken. More on delegation
In addition, if a membership organisation, the Management Committee will have an important communication role with its members. And, of course, there is communication with a range of external organisations such as funding bodies, statutory agencies, other voluntary organisations, etc. More on communicating with stakeholders.