Committees are the backbone of associations, they are crucial in moving tasks forward and achieving
goals. Looking to start a new committee (or refocus an existing one), here are some tips to help:
Establish a Purpose and Create Goals – In order for any committee to be successful, you must have a
clear purpose and mission. Whether it is a board decision or a committee decision, establishing your
purpose is step one. An effective way to determine your purpose is to focus on your organizational goals.
For example, if membership growth is a strategic priority for your association, the membership
committee’s focus should be on engaging current members, while attracting new members. The goal of
the membership committee would be to maintain an 85% retention rate while growing the membership by
a determined percentage.
Capable Committee Chair– The Committee chair is an essential component any committee’s success.
This person is responsible for ensuring the committee is properly managed and functioning effectively.
Select a person whose experience and leadership align with your committee goals. Ideally the chair
should have previous experience on the committee and/or board. Some traits of effective committee
chairs include: objectivity, approachability, a team builder, ability to speak clearly and concisely, a strong
networker, strategic thinker.
Dedicated Members– Once you have defined your purpose and goals and have secured a committee
chair, it becomes easier to recruit volunteers, as you now know what skillset your committee needs. As
you recruit, look for true industry experts. Some questions to consider as you recruit volunteers; does the
person have a passion for the association, the time to commit, and the professional skills needed? The
best place to start looking is right in your own network. The easiest way to secure a volunteer is to call
them and ask. Very few people can resist giving back to their profession. But make sure you have a
specific ask when you make the call. Asking someone to get involved is a challenging question compared
to can you mentor one new member by calling them four times a year.
Create Structure– Setting structure around your committee helps to stay on task and keep volunteers from getting discouraged. Set up a monthly (or quarterly) recurring meeting and send out an agenda in
advance of the meeting. During the meeting, discuss strategy and delegate tasks to committee members.
Set a tone of action and deadlines so that your committee stays focused on results.