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Complex Thoughts

Using Committees

com • mit • tee (ka • mit´ • ee)
n. a group of people officially delegated to perform a function,
such as investigating, considering, reporting, or acting on a matter.


  • increases the number of leadership opportunities in the organization
  • divides large organizational tasks into manageable components
  • provides a training ground for future organizational leaders
  • gives all members specific areas of responsibility
  • ensures that an area will be focused on and increases the likelihood of project completion
  • most practical and democratic method of getting things done
  • develops group ideas


  • marketing and advertising
  • fundraising
  • retreat planning
  • recruitment and retention
  • judicial
  • public relations
  • program planning
  • homecoming planning
  • scholarship
  • elections


  • Standing committees function throughout the school year and meet regularly at consistently scheduled times. The marketing committee may meet regularly to plan and implement an organization’s marketing efforts.

  • Ad hoc committees meet when the need arises. They are temporary committees that are called together to work on a specific program or project. Often an ad hoc committee works on revising and updating an organization’s constitution every three to five years.

Committees work more effectively when they are headed by a single committee chairperson. The chair can be selected by the organizational leadership, elected by the general membership, or elected by the committee membership. The chair should be responsible for coordinating committee meetings. He/she should make sure that all committee members are aware of meeting times and locations. He/she should serve as a facilitator during committee meetings and should only vote in case of a tie. The committee chairperson should coordinate the delegation and follow up of member tasks. The chairperson is responsible for reporting committee activity to the general organization membership and leadership.

Members should be involved in the committees that interest them most. It is best if they volunteer for what committees they want to be on. However, the organization’s leaders should know what skills and experiences members have so that they may suggest appropriate committee placement. Committee meetings should only be held when necessary. Some committees meet on a weekly basis, while others, like the elections committee, may meet only once a year. It may be more efficient for members to meet just before or after the regular organization meeting. Committees should feel empowered to make decisions for the organization, however, decisions that need the support of the entire organization for implementation should have the support of the entire organization. Many organizations have committees that make recommendations to the organization at large, but the entire organization has input on the final decision.

Committees should keep records of their activities and discussion. The continual need to reinvent the wheel has been the death of many student organizations. If the organization has to start from scratch each year, it is difficult for the organization to grow and strengthen. Keep a written evaluation of each program, procedure, project, budget, etc.


When we become a committee member, we must remember that we will be working with others. The work to be done will be done better by a group and it should be kept in mind that you are the group. As a committee member, you should be prepared to give ideas, opinions, and feelings. State your own beliefs but accept the ideas of others who are also working on the job. Be ready to listen to others and test your ideas against those who have had past experience with the subject. If you “think out loud” at committee meetings, others can grasp your ideas and develop them. Other ideas can be added and modified until they become answers to the problem.


There are some qualifications a committee member should have if the committee work is to be done properly. You should be familiar with the parent organization; the committee is just one part of a total organization. Committee members should know the aims and goals of the organization and be acquainted with its procedures.

You should be able to express yourself at a committee meeting. You may have a good idea but it won’t be used unless you can tell others about it and explain it so everyone can understand it. You should know what your job is, the committee’s responsibility, then stick to the job. Be receptive, open-minded, and able to learn. An open mind will help in working with others. Their ideas will help you think of other ideas and soon everyone will be contributing.

Be aware of plans for the future. Your committee probably has some long-range goals. What the committee is doing will help achieve these goals. Don’t forget that you are not the only one on the committee. Try to be agreeable and cooperative. Committee meetings leave little time for personality conflicts. Have a positive approach, be agreeable, act quickly, and you will be doing your share to make the committee a good one.

A committee is only as good as the individual members. If you and the other members will keep these qualities in mind, a smooth operating committee will emerge.


Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.