National Collegiate 4-H

Committee Effectiveness

The most important work of an organization is often not at the scheduled business meetings, but during the intervals between meetings. One can keep the organization moving between meetings through the use of committees. 

A committee is a subgroup for an organization given a specific task to complete: interested members meeting together to analyze, clarify, and focus ideas on particular problems of the group on community concerns. Committees function to plan programs, to study issues in depth, to implement organizational goals, or to manage single aspects of the organization. 

Committees have advantages over the larger organization. A small group can plan, deliberate and implement an assignment more efficiently than a large group. The atmosphere is more informal, promoting freedom in discussion which permits wider coverage of ideas. Committees involve group problem solving and thinking which encourages greater acceptance of solutions; plus, a committee can meet more often and work faster than the entire organization. Two common committees you will work with include: the standing and the ad hoc. 

A standing committee continues year after year and manages a specific organizational aspect such as finance or publicity. A standing committee is named in the organization¬ís by-laws. 

An ad hoc committee is created to meet special short-term organizational needs such as a special event. Ad hoc committees plan and research, then make recommendations based on findings to the general membership for approval. After that point, this committee usually dissolves. 

Since a great deal of an organization’s achievement depends upon committee work, selection of members is critical. A well functioning committee is a combination of a good leader and members who are able to communicate honestly. Also, committee members need to understand and accept the group development process that occurs in committee work. Key points in the committee construction process are listed below: 

In selection of leaders, be sure:

  1. Everyone in the organization understands the goal of the committee before electing the leader.
  2. Organization members participate in selection of committee leaders.
  3. To stress the importance and prestige of the position. If you take a casual approach     you are likely to get a loser.
  4. The leader is able to lead discussions and coordinate ideas.
  5. The leader understands the committee assignment and is willing to commit the necessary time to complete it.