A fresh and radical idea: consider eliminating all (or most) of your board committees. Too many boards are bogged down by committees that are inactive or maybe even semi-fictitious. And board members can feel compelled to be on three or four committees each!
The reality is that very few committees need to exist in perpetuity. Instead of a permanent Personnel Committee, for example, create a time-limited HR Task Force to oversee policy revision and then disband. In place of a standing Program Committee, form a time-limited Library Committee that tackles reviewing library usage and then dissolve the group. The same folks might volunteer for the subsequent Newsletter Overhaul Committee to reinvent the newsletter, and then move on after four months.
One permanent (standing) committee you’ll probably need is the Finance Committee, which must oversee financial performance on a continuous basis. Some organizations might also want to keep a Fundraising Committee, while others might replace this body with two task forces: one to coordinate the fall luncheon and one to plan and manage the county fair booth.
Task forces, ad hoc committees and temporary committees all have specific tasks to accomplish in a specific timeframe. Signing up to work on a project with a clear goal and a termination point always trumps the prospect of indefinite service on a committee weighed down by a vague purpose.
An added bonus resulting from shifting to temporary committees is the changing mix of team participants. Interaction among a variety of members on the board will result in having the right people “on the bus” more often, and by board members getting to know more people on the board. And isn’t getting to work with more people in new settings one of the reasons we join boards in the first place?
Go for it!