FAQs on the role of management committee members

There are a number of topics that come up frequently in queries regarding the role of management committees.  We have included answers some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help clarify some common areas of confusion.

Q: Does the Management Committee have the power to do whatever they wish?

A: No. The Management Committee has certain powers that are clearly laid out in the organisation's governing document (e.g. constitution). The Management Committee can only act within these powers.

Q: Can Management Committee members volunteer for the organisation in other capacities?

A: Yes. Management Committee members may take on other roles within the organisation. It is important that you can distinguish when you are acting as a Management Committee member and when you are acting as a volunteer as part of the organisation's services, activities or events. For example, if your organisation runs a community centre that has a paid manager, when you are in your role as Management Committee member the manager will be accountable to you, but when you work as a volunteer helping to run the centre's crèche, you will be accountable to the centre's manager.

Q: What are trustees?

A: Trustees is the name that charity law uses to define the group of people who have ultimate responsibility for an organisation that is a recognised charity. They may also be called the Management Committee, Directors, Executive Committee, etc. Therefore, if you are on the Management Committee of an organisation that is a charity, then you are also a trustee as defined by charity law.

Q: Can the Management Committee delegate to sub-committees or working groups?

A: The Management Committee can only act within its powers set out in the organisation's governing document. Check the organisation's governing document (e.g. constitution) to see if their powers include being able to delegate to sub-committees, staff or volunteers. It is important to remember that any decisions made by any committees or groups remain the responsibility of the Management Committee. Therefore, it is essential to have agreed reporting-back procedures and written terms of reference.

Q: Who can be a Company Secretary?

A: Anyone with the relevant skills and experience and who is not debarred. It is often the chief officer, but it may be a relevant Committee Member or senior member of staff.

Q: Can a paid member of staff be on the Management Committee?

A: No, this is not recommended and is very rarely an acceptable practice.

Q: Can Management Committee members be paid?

A: Management Committee members are volunteers and are not paid a fee for their involvement, except in exceptional cases, but this is rarely the case. For further guidance, refer to CC11 Trustees expenses and payments.

Q: Can individuals on Management Committee represent their employing organisation (e.g. voluntary organisation or statutory agency)?

A: This depends. First, check the organisation's governing document (e.g. constitution) to clarify how its Management Committee is structured. If its Management Committee members are there to represent the views of another organisation, this will be clearly indicated. In all cases, it is essential for Management Committee members to understand that decision-making must always be made in the best interests of the organisation at hand (the one in which you are a Management Committee. In cases where there is a conflict of interest (with your employer or personally) you must withdraw from the decision (i.e. not vote). This is key to being an effective Management Committee member in whatever capacity you have been elected or appointed.