Help! Defining the Committee Member's Role

For many organisations, the role of Management Committee members is implicitly understood rather than having been written down and agreed.  However, your Management Committee members will operate more effectively if there is a clear, written outline of their purpose and role.

What is the role?

Do you know:

  • The exact role and responsibilities of your Management Committee members?;
  • The level of commitment actually required?; and
  • The skills and qualities required to carry out the role effectively?

Don't be afraid of scaring off potential applicants! It is much better to be up front about what is involved in the role than have someone resigning prematurely because the role was not what they expected.

More on the role of the Management Committee

Drafting a role description

Your role description for Management Committee members can be brief or detailed, as appropriate to your organisation, but should outline essential information, such as:

  • commitment expected;
  • key responsibilities;
  • specific qualities or skills required; and
  • support available (e.g. induction, training, reimbursement of expenses etc).

For example, if you are a small, informal group your role description may be a page of bullet points.  For larger organisations it may be more appropriate to provide a more detailed role description for your Management Committee members, which may be one of many documents contained within a Committee members' handbook.

View Example Role Descriptions (short and detailed)

It is also wise to have role descriptions for your honorary officers as well (e.g. Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer).

It is good practice for role descriptions to be discussed, agreed and minuted as such at a Management Committee meeting.  Role descriptions can be reviewed annually to ensure that they are still relevant.

Role descriptions or job descriptions?

Management committee roles are volunteer roles.  This is a legal requirement and assures the public, funders and other stakeholders that the organisation is being managed to fulfil its core purpose and for its target beneficiaries, rather than to the personal benefit of its managers.

As with all aspects of volunteer management, it is important to affirm this through the language and approach used in written documentation to avoid any potential confusion with employment, which brings associated rights and responsibilities (e.g. roles rather than jobs; agreements rather than contracts; reimbursed expenses rather than payments).

More on Volunteers and the Law

Worksheet: Develop a role description