As part of incorporation, the members of your organisation need to elect a management committee or board to act on their behalf. Most management committees will have a president, secretary and treasurer. The people elected to these positions are office holders or office bearers while other management committee members are ‘ordinary’ members.
In not-for-profit organisations, management committee members are not paid. If you are a member of the management committee you will be involved with the planning, management and decision-making of the organisation.
What are the responsibilities of the management committee?
Being a member of the management committee also means that you are legally responsible for the affairs of the organisation. Although you may have more legal protection than members of an unincorporated association if things go wrong, this will only apply if you carry out your responsibilities properly.
As a management committee member some of the things you will be responsible for include ensuring that the aims, objectives and rules of the organisation are observed, it complies with any laws, meets its contractual obligations, keeps accurate financial records and can pay its debts. This means that anyone elected to the management committee will need to have or learn the skills to carry out all these responsibilities.
You will need to make sure that you act honestly and in the best interest of the association and exercise care, skill and diligence in carrying out your role. It is important that you do not use the information you obtain from your role to gain any advantage for yourself or any other person.
You must also act ethically if there is a conflict between your personal interests and those of the organisation. For example, paid employees of the organisation can be members of the management committee but they would not be able to vote on employment contracts that affect them or be present when it was being considered.
The Associations Incorporation Act provides details about some of these responsibilities. It is important that committee members understand their responsibilities under the Act and additional legal obligations under other legislation that is relevant to your association. You might want to ask for more information from a solicitor or the Office of Fair Trading.
What are the roles of the management committee?
The management committee as a whole has important legal responsibilities to the organisation but individual management committee members will also have specific responsibilities. Some of these roles involve a lot of work so the committee might decide to appoint another member to be an assistant such as a deputy-chairperson.
The president makes sure that the management committee provides leadership for the organisation. The president ensures that management committee meetings are held and chairs these meetings as detailed in the Act. At management committee meetings, the president is also responsible for making a decision if a vote is tied and must prepare and present monthly and annual reports.
If the organisation has paid employees, the president will need to be able to work well with all staff members, especially the manager. As the representative of the organisation, the president usually signs official letters and contracts and will sometimes acts as a spokesperson for the organisation.
The secretary is legally responsible for maintaining the non-financial records of the association as detailed in theAct. If the secretary does not carry out these responsibilities under the Act, they may be committing an offence.
The responsibilities of the secretary include letting the Office of Fair Trading know about any changes to management committee officer-holders, association rules or its address as well as lodging the association’s financial statements.
The secretary will need to prepare, send out and keep copies of agendas, reports and minutes for management committee meetings. Letters from the management committee are the responsibility of the secretary and they may also be responsible for keeping an up-to-date list of members of the organisation.
The secretary may ask other members of the committee to assist with these tasks but will still need to ensure that they are done properly.
All member of the management committee are responsible for managing the finances of the association but the treasurer is expected to provide regular financial reports to the committee and ensure that the financial records are accurate.
The treasurer is expected to ensure that there are receipts for all money received by the association, the money is banked promptly, accounts are paid and cheques are signed according to the rules of the association. If the association employs paid staff, they may carry out some of these tasks but the treasure is expected to ensure that they are done properly.
The treasurer is also expected to prepare and present a Treasurer’s Report, Auditor’s Report and audited financial statements to the Annual General Meeting if this is required under the Act.
Other committee members
If your management committee has other members, they will have the same legal responsibilities as those shared by the committee as a whole. As part of the management committee, these members will be responsible for the affairs of the organisation but they may also be involved with helping one of the other office holders or other tasks such as writing reports or grant applications.
Your organisation may also decide to set up other committees or working groups to assist the management committee which will not need to be elected.