Boards should encourage owners to be involved with association affairs, and committees are an excellent way for owners to participate. Ideally, involving more owners improves transparency, which in turn promotes community harmony. Having committees can benefit the community in many ways, such as improving board effectiveness and productivity, broadening board awareness of the community’s interests and concerns, allowing former board members to continue contributing their experience, skills, and knowledge, and giving owners an opportunity to serve their community without assuming the responsibility of being on the board.
Committees are typically used for either of two purposes. First, committees can be used to advise the board by conducting research on a given issue or matter and providing the board with the committee’s findings and recommendations. The board can then make a decision based, in whole or in part, on the committee’s input, advice, and recommendation. Second, committees can be used to perform specific assignments, such as organizing the monthly newsletter or putting together and distributing welcome packets.
Committees serve at the pleasure of the board, so all actions and decisions by a committee are subject to control, revision, and alteration by the board. When a board establishes a committee, the board should: (1) name the committee; (2) describe the committee’s role and responsibilities; (3) define the committee’s duration; (4) set deadlines for specific assignments; (5) highlight the committee chairperson’s duties; and (6) outline procedures for the committee to meet and report back to the board.
The responsibility and liability for a committee’s actions and decisions always rests with the board, so boards should clearly explain to prospective committee members the skills, knowledge, and time expected to serve on the committee. At the same time, boards should also consider each prospective committee member’s abilities. While committees can certainly benefit board operations, boards need to be cautious when delegating responsibilities and decision making to a committee.
When your board desires to establish a committee be certain to have specific committee roles and duties. This will ensure that the board establishes an effective and productive committee while still protecting the association’s interests.