Dear Editor: We have many active board committees, all of which include members who are not on our board or staff.   Should these committee members sign the same agreements (especially regarding confidentiality) that board members do?  If so, are there samples or guides of agreements specifically directed to non-board/staff committee members? Thank you, — I

Dear I, 

Congratulations on involving the community on your board committees! This is an important accomplishment, although most organizations limit the Executive Committee to just Board members. People with financial expertise are needed on both Finance Committees and Audit Committees.  Even a Strategic Planning Committee/Task Force would benefit from appropriately selected people from your community.

What agreements your board members sign will influence what volunteers are asked to sign. Best advice: Keep it simple. 

Spell out what is expected of committee members, and that members are appointed by the Board for a set period of time.  Also, be sure to ask potential committee members what their expectations are of their new position.  Clarity on both sides will lead to a good relationship with an involved, committed committee member who might someday even become a board member.

What you expect from a committee member is similar to what you should expect from a board member:

  • Attend as many meetings as possible and read material ahead of time.
  • Participate in discussions.
  • Respect the opinions of others and listen actively.
  • Be responsible for own learning. If you miss a meeting, call or e-mail another member to find out what was discussed and decided.
  • Be knowledgeable about the organization and “talk it up” in public.
  • Know who the official spokesperson for the organization is and what committee members are authorized to say or do in the name of the organization.
  • Respect the confidentiality of committee proceedings.

I’m sure you can think of other requirements that your board and committee members should meet.

Let us know what you decide to do!

Ask the Experts