Committees. Love them or hate them, they are a necessary part of having a productive Board of Directors. Almost every organization we work with has committees, but not every organization has committees that perform well. Sound familiar?
In order to help your committees run smoothly, the team at Starfish Impact created an easy Committee Audit Tool to help you evaluate your committees and their effectiveness. To use the tool, just rate each board committee on a scale of 1-5 (low to high) on the following criteria:
- Board Member Leadership. One of the most important success factors for a committee is its leadership. If the committee doesn’t have a leader from the board (say, if the committee is run by a staff member or not run by anyone at all); score that committee a 1. If the committee has a strong committed leader who understands committee outcomes and follows up on activities; rate leadership a 5.
- Clear Goals. Does the committee have clear goals and outcomes that are known to all committee members and the rest of the board? If you can’t answer the question “What does this committee do;” that committee gets a 1. On the other side of the scale is a committee that has clear goals, objectives, and understands its purpose.
- Committee Participation. Quite simply, do committee members show up to committee meetings and calls, and follow-through on action items between meetings? If you have great attendance (100% is probably too lofty a goal); that committee gets a 5. If attendance is spotty or you hear complaints about a few people bearing more than their fair share of work; score that committee lower.
- Value to Organization. How important is this committee’s work to the organization? This category represents the different between a committee that is “nice to have” versus one the organization “needs to have.” High scoring committees are mandated by the organization’s by-laws or provide tangible value to a specific department. Committees that score lower might duplicate work being done at the organization or might create more work for staff.
- Committee Expertise. Does the committee have a lot of expertise in its focus area? Sometimes all the business people are thrown onto the fundraising committee, despite no knowledge on sales, marketing, or fundraising. Committees made up of experts will receive a high score, while committees that need training or appear confused will receive lower scores.
First, look for areas that are red and address them as a higher priority.
Secondly, look at the scores for each committee. If you see a 24 or 25, congratulations, you have a high-functioning committee. If this is your only high scoring committee, consider what you can do to spread the success out. If you have an extremely low scoring committee (12 or lower), consider eliminating this committee or investing resources to improve it.
Finally, look at the average scores for each area. If on average, a category is less than 3, consider addressing the issue at the board level (maybe a session on goal setting is necessary or maybe everyone needs a talk about participation).
As with anything, this tool is only a starting point to help you identify your best actions moving forward. It’s what you do with the data that matters most.