Strong committees are a very important part of governing cooperative resident-owned communities. Here’s why:
1) Tasks are divided among the entire community, not just a few elected board members.
2) Committee members are empowered to make a difference.
3) Members become more invested in their co-op when they have a part in its management.
4) New leaders are nurtured and trained, sometimes as preparation for a seat on the board of directors.
5) Committees lessen the burden on the board of directors.
A co-op that forms and sustains strong and well-run co-op committees will be better managed, and better able to handle problems, tasks and issues as they arise.
How they work
The co-op’s board of directors creates committees, appoints their members and assigns specific goals, tasks, procedures and policies, as well as limits to their authority. Each committee has a chairperson who often acts as the liaison to the board.
All committee work is approved by the board of directors. Typically, the committee recommends a particular task for the board’s approval, then carries out the task once it has been approved (and sometimes amended) by the board.
Committees cannot act outside of the scope of work which has been approved by the board. Committee members serve “at the pleasure of the board” and can be removed if they fail to follow board-approved policies and procedures.
Types of committees
Standing committees have ongoing responsibilities and usually have monthly tasks to complete. Each committee is required to provide a monthly report to the board. While the number and nature of standing committees varies from co-op to co-op, there are five critical committees:
Membership – screens prospective homebuyers
Finance – oversees the co-op’s finances, including budget planning and review, funding capital improvements and filing taxes.
Maintenance/Operations – along with the operations manager, provides oversight for the park infrastructure.
Community rules enforcement – receives and processes member complaints of rule violations.
Social – brings people together for community events such as potluck dinners, fundraisers or coffee clubs.
Ad hoc committees are temporary and formed for particular needs or tasks. They are typically released from service when those needs or tasks are complete. Two examples of ad hoc committees are the Annual Meeting Planning and Nominations Committees.