BoardSide “Committees make the difference”

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By Dick Hagerty

Active and effective committees pave the way for the success of your advisory board and local Salvation Army operations.

In Modesto (Calif.) we currently have 17 working committees, and we often add another committee or combine those that are no longer vital to our operations.

Additionally, we engage many community members who are not officially on our boards or councils to work on these committees. At present, 25 non-board members lend their time and expertise to assist us in the local work, thereby extending the relationship through the community and tapping into specific skills of those who do not feel otherwise called for full board membership.

The executive committee (“ExCom”) is essential to efficient operation. This committee should be made up of all the board officers (president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and immediate past president). Others, such as key committee chairs may be added, but an effective ExCom is 10 or fewer in size. The committee, which should meet two weeks away from the regular board meeting time, is responsible for previewing issues that will come before the entire board and for fully reviewing details of issues that would consume too much board time. I refer to our ExCom as the “heavy lifting” group on the board—this is where the action is.

The finance committee must meet monthly to review current financial statements and cash position, prepare the annual budget and regularly review the status of budget to actual, sit in on audit presentations and assist with United Way and other funding proposals. Maintaining the momentum of this important committee can be difficult; in the past we have combined Finance with ExCom to keep current on money matters.

The property committee monitors and reviews the ongoing status of maintenance, upkeep and necessary repairs, while keeping a long-range view on addition of new capital assets and properties. Ideally, the property committee will have one or more contractors or members of the building community in attendance to provide a professional judgment of what may be needed. In addition, many times these contractors and builders will be able to work their own network of contacts to obtain the best prices and often donate services for repairs and additions.

Public relations should be chaired by someone in the field of advertising, media or a related area. It is vital to get the word out to the community concerning the work of the Army, and this committee needs members who have the contacts and the willingness to do so.

The development committee needs to continuously review and monitor the mail campaigns and the advertising that goes out under our name. They also plan special fundraising events such as golf tournaments, benefit dinners, auctions and special speaking events. Will and estate planning clinics are essential to the long-range financial planning of the local Army. This committee should remind the entire board that personal contact and relationship building is the key to fundraising. Also, the committee may organize various groups of board members to make thank you calls to recent donors.

The nominating committee is charged with two important tasks. The first is to assess and nominate the next slate of officers to serve on the board, ideally for a two-year term. The second task is to receive recommendations and to review and present prospective board members to the board at large for approval.

We also employ such committees as a Christmas committee, kettle committee, disaster committee, program/social services committee, and others that focus on a single major program including shelter and child development center. Look for more on these committees in a future column.


    Contact Hagerty at for a complete list of committees, related tasks, and other advisory information.


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