Sub-committees are a way of distributing the workload of a management committee, and for making the most use of the expertise of the organisation's members. In this way, people who may not have the time to serve on the management committee can be co-opted onto a sub-committee for a limited time to carry out a project. The role and responsibilities of a sub-committee and its relationship to the management committee should be clearly defined.
In setting up a sub-committee, remember the following:
- It performs a specific task - such as reviewing staff salaries, preparing a submission or a budget, or looking after the grounds.
- It should be small in size - often three to five people are enough.
- Establish the sub-committee formally at a management committee meeting. Nominate one person to act as a convenor to call meetings, and co-ordinate the activities of the sub-committee. It is a good idea to actually state that the sub-committee is responsible to the full management committee.
- Do not take communication for granted. Make sure everyone is clear about what has to be done and who is going to do it.
- Give the sub-committee specific written guidelines, time frames, duties and powers. This information should be minuted at a management committee meeting.
- A sub-committee minute taker should be nominated. Minutes and reports of the sub-committee should be presented regularly at full management committee meetings.
- Any action or policy recommended by the sub-committee needs to be approved by the full committee before anyone can act on that policy.
- It is useful to set clear goals and time limits on the life of the sub-committee and to allocate specific funds or other resources at your disposal to enable the sub-committee to do its job.