Search the internet for quotes about committees and I defy you to find one positive quote. Author Lester J. Pourciau summed it up best when he said, “There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.”
According to Statistics Canada, around 50% of Canadians volunteered their time to a group or organization in 2010. Of those, about 30% participated on a board or committee. With this many well-intentioned people participating in committees, I cringe to think about the frustrations that many of them must be feeling.
An earlier study on non-profit leadership training, commissioned by the OREA Centre for Leadership Development, concluded that, “Committee members are generally not offered any training.” Although Statistics Canada didn’t ask that question, my guess is that most volunteers in Canada receive little or no formal training on how to participate in or chair a committee.
If you want to learn how to be an effective committee member there are some excellent resources available. One place to start is on the OREA website in the Leadership Library. There you’ll find articles, tools and tips such as “Contributing to a Committee: A Member’s Guide To The Group Process”. If you practice what’s in this article, you’ll be well on your way to being a more effective committee member. If you’re an OREA member, be sure to check out the free online course, “On the Path to Leadership”. It covers much of what a new volunteer needs to know. Other sites to check out include: Charity Village, The Nonprofit Center, Free Management Library and Effective Meetings.com.
Be sure to check with your association or organization as well to see if they provide any additional training for you.
It may take some self-study on your part, but you’ll be glad you learned more about how to contribute on a committee. Then, of course, you can share what you’ve learned with other committee members and really have an impact.