A subcommittee is a smaller group of a leadership team that is responsible for overseeing specific tasks.
While the Board is responsible for overseeing the general governance of the organisation, a subcommittee only works in one area. Some examples of subcommittees might include finance, events or personnel - but there are numerous different types.
The roles and responsibilities of a subcommittee will depend on the organisation. They can oversee projects for the long or short term and can vary in size and seniority. Certain governance structures will encourage more subcommittees than others.
Overall, a subcommittee is meant to ensure the Board is actively fulfilling its fiduciary duty. Both Board members and non-Board members can serve on a subcommittee. This means it is a great opportunity to encourage communication across the organisation.
Read on to find out more about the importance of subcommittees!
Why Are Subcommittees So Important?
The purpose of a subcommittee is to support the Board by splitting up the responsibilities and creating a clear trail of accountability. In many organisations, subcommittees play a crucial role in ensuring topics are dealt with in appropriate detail. They report to the Board and do not always have the final say in decisions.
Subcommittees allow the Board to make informed decisions. No matter how experienced the directors in an organisation are, they can’t be experts in everything all of the time. Subcommittees work directly with the topic at hand and then give informed, developed recommendations to the Board.
How Should A Subcommittee Be Structured?
The structure of a subcommittee will depend on the specific task it exists. Some subcommittees are ad-hoc committees. This means they are established to deal with a specific task and only exist for the short term. An example of this may be planning for a specific event.
In contrast, a standing committee is one that plays a long-term role in the organisation. For example, the finance committee can be a more-or-less permanent fixture of the organisational structure.
However, even with standing committees, it is useful to allow for some change. As an organisation evolves, the role of the Board and its relationship to various areas of the organisation will evolve. Some tasks may come to overlap while others draw apart. It’s important to recognise this when establishing committees.
A general rule is that a subcommittee should not be bigger than it needs to be. No one should be present just to fill a seat. If it turns out that a handful of members are doing most of the work, the subcommittee is likely too big. This may take time to establish and is another reason to have a flexible structure.
In many cases, it is worth ensuring each Board member is on no more than two committees. This will allow them to give due diligence to the tasks they are dealing with.
How Can Convene Improve Communication Between Subcommittees and the Board?
A good governance structure requires fluent communication between subcommittees and the Board. Convene is an award-winning Board Portal, designed to make these relationships easier.
From crafting the meeting minutes, to creating a clear audit trail, our features can simplify your meeting administration. With smart tools such as shared annotations, instant voting and action items, you can make sure everyone is on the same page.