7 Tips to Build Active, Effective Committees

Committees are an important part of the association, no matter what size the staff is. For smaller associations, committee participation is essential.

Illustration of team with thumbs up

As Steve Neidlinger, CAE, executive director of the Pennsylvania Academy of General Dentistry, humorously points out in a call for committee members, a staff of one has its advantages – for example, no complaints when fish is heated in the microwave. He then talks about the importance of member involvement to guide and offer advice from a dentist’s perspective to make sure the association meets members’ needs. He continues by outlining time commitments and responsibilities of each committee – two best practices recommended for committee member recruitment.

Other best practices include:

  1. Develop a role description just as you would create a job description when hiring staff.
  2. Based on that role description, identify the members who have expressed interest or have the expertise to handle a specific role.
  3. Send a potential committee member an invitation letter that is personalized, explains the importance of committees, and tells the member why they are being asked to join this specific committee.

One author offers these tips to get members involved:

  • Announce openings via email, meetings, or social media – whichever is most appropriate for your association.
  • Invite members who are interested in specific committees to attend a meeting to let them see what is involved in participation.
  • Ask existing committee members to identify the type of person and skills needed to fill gaps on the committee. Approach members who fit the profile to ask if they would like to serve.
  • Be upfront about time commitment, expectations, and responsibilities, but also about the benefits. Outline what they will gain from the experience in a fact sheet, email, meeting, or personal conversation.

Active committees not only provide the guidance and support association staff need to ensure top value for members, but they also provide benefits to members that include leadership, networking, and skill development opportunities. The entire organization benefits from member involvement, so take the time to recruit committee members thoughtfully and strategically.