Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The End of Board Committees

Let's face it: board committees are usually bored committees, and rarely get anything done unless it's task and time specific, so why not just abolish them?

At least, that's the question being asked in the premier issue of 'Blue Avocado' - the new online magazine for people working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector. The site, directed and edited by Jan Masaoka (my former boss at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services), is "half magazine, half blog, half website" and its "aim is to engage and support the people of community nonprofits, the ones who do the heavy lifting in building social justice and strong communities, and who create and drive the ideas that change our world for the better."

Of the articles in the premier issue, which came out today, the one abolishing board committees really grabbed me as being provocative and helpful at the same time. Of course, you'll never get rid of all committees - nor should you - but with a handful of exceptions, board committees do not need be permanent standing structures, and their business can be better served with ad-hoc task-specific groups.

I see two main benefits right off: providing focus and eliminating burn-out. A project specific task force knows what it must accomplish, and by when it must accomplish it. And, by providing that direction, there's no drift or inertia from month-to-month as nothing seems to happen, making committee members bored, anxious, and fed up with board work entirely.

Check out Blue Avocado at and sign up for the e-newsletter, register an account (it's free, and allows you to leave comments), and join in the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. I worked with a board that had all the typical committees. Then we got rid of all but two: long-range planning and fundraising. The board officers were the president, the VP of LRP, the VP of Fundraising, the secretary/treasurer. We were much happier.