Principle 5

Effective delegation

Delegation is necessary for all of the work of an organisation to be completed. Except with very small organisations it is not possible for the members of the committee/board to do everything necessary for the smooth running of the organisation.

However it is important to remember that the committee can delegate authority but not responsibility. The committee is ultimately accountable for everything that goes on in an organisation.

Choosing to delegate

Effective delegation is carried out...

  • systematically
  • legally, and
  • with proper oversight.

Roles and responsibilities are delegated when particular areas of activity need to be discussed or developed beyond the context of the management committee meeting.

For example:

  • new human resource policies need to be developed
  • a project needs to be managed and delivered
  • greater financial management is required
  • the organisation needs to be represented and make decisions at meetings with funders, suppliers etc

Depending on the nature and size of the role, delegation can be to:

  1. Honorary officers 
  2. A sub-committee or advisory group 
  3. Paid staff or volunteers 

Key points for effective delegation

The following pointers are useful reminders, regardless of who you are delegating to:

1.  Make it legal  

Ensure any delegation is in line with your organisation's governing document and relevant legislation. Your governing document may specify, for example, the remit of honorary officers or sub-committees and the process for their appointment. Legislation will affect how you involve volunteers or recruit and employ paid staff.

2.  Make it systematic  

Ensure authority for delegation is clearly documented. Specify any limits to, for example, decision-making authority, financial spend and project development, without prior approval of the management committee.

3.  Provide proper oversight

Ensure a reporting mechanism is in place. The committee must be careful to read written reports provided and ask relevant questions when verbal reports are being given to ensure that the delegation they have agreed is working effectively, is within the specified parameters, and they ultimately retain control of all delegations.  More on monitoring.

4.  Make it effective

Ensure the people concerned have the skills needed to carry out the task. This can either form part of the selection criteria or be addressed through appropriate training.