Who's Who?

Organisations in the voluntary and community sector involve people in many different roles and capacities.  The table below outlines how the management committee fit into this framework.

Who are they?

What do they do?

Management Committee

(may also be called Board of Trustees, Board of Directors, Executive Committee etc).

The Management Committee works as a team to make decisions, and has ultimate responsibility for the organisation.

Special features:

  • Composed of unpaid volunteers (expect in exceptional circumstances) who receive just out-of-pocket-expenses.
  • Each member has an equal say and equal vote, although the chair may sometimes have a casting vote.
  • Have a leadership and governance role.
  • Is accountable to members.



A Chairperson is chosen to act as a figurehead for the organisation. S/he works closely with the chief officer (if there is one) and ensures effective decisions are made and carried out.

Special features:

  • Plans and runs meetings and ensures participation.
  • Ensures that the Management Committee functions properly.
  • Line manages the most senior staff member.

Senior staff member

(where applicable, may be called the Chief Executive Officer, Director, Co-ordinator, Manager etc).

The most senior staff member is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation; puts recommendations to the Management Committee; ensures the Management Committee's decisions are put into practice.

Special features:

  • Receives wages
  • Not a Management Committee member (except in exceptional cases).
  • Hired, supported and appraised by the Management Committee.
  • Reports to the Management Committee.


Staff are paid employees who carry out work on behalf of their employer.

Special features:

  • Receive wages
  • Not Management Committee members.
  • Accountable to the Management Committee through the chief officer.


A person who carries out agreed tasks on behalf of an organisation, without concern for financial gain.

Special features:

  • Not paid (except out-of pocket expenses).
  • Not an employee.
  • Carries out agreed tasks.


A sub-committee is a small group of individuals tasked to advise on a particular task or area (such as finance or personnel). Sub-committees are set up by the Management Committee and terms of reference may be defined in the organisation's governing document.

Special features:

  • Often made up of Management Committee members and non-members.
  • Makes recommendations to the Management Committee.
  • Decision-making powers limited by the Management Committee and the organisation's governing document.
  • Not time-limited.

Advisor or Advisory Group

(may also be called a project steering group, working group etc).

An Advisor, advisory group or working group is involved to give guidance to the Management Committee on specific matters or develop a specific initiative.

Special features:

  • Advisors are not Management Committee members.
  • Advisory or working groups can involve a number of non-Committee members
  • No official role; no voting power.
  • Can provide valuable information and expertise
  • Time-limited role


A Patron is a person who lends credibility or support to the cause of a charity or voluntary organisation, and are often involved in fundraising and public relations to gain media coverage.

Special features:

  • Not a Management Committee member.
  • No voting power.


(of the organisation, not management committee members)

Members are individuals who have opted to join the organisation in order to register their support for its activities and/or to have some influence on how the organisation is run.  Membership schemes are defined by the organisation's governing documents and may involve paying a subscription.

Special features:

  • Have voting powers (e.g. at the AGM) for electing management committee members and voting on tabled motions.
  • Management committee members usually need to be existing members
  • Are supporters of the organisation.