Responsibilities of the Management Committee

A guide to the key responsibilities of your management committee, trustees or other governing body.

Every community organisation has a governing body, a group of people which manages its affairs. This is most commonly referred to as the management committee. However your own group may use a different name, such as executive committee or steering group. A very small and informal group may not have a separate committee and, in this case, its entire membership is the governing body.

Here we use the term management committee to describe the governing body of any community group. We have included an appendix which briefly describes what a management committee is, who sits on it, and what individual members do.

Main responsibilities

Broadly, the committee’s job is to ensure that the group

  • does what it was set up to do
  • has enough money and does not get into debt
  • is well run

The aim of this information sheet is to look in more detail at what this entails.  Not all of this sheet will apply to every group.  We have tried to show which sections are most relevant to your group.  Even so, you may find the list of responsibilities daunting.  But don’t be put off!  There are over 1,500 successful groups in Brighton & Hove, most run by people in their spare time.  Committee members are not expected to be experts, and there are lots of places where you can get help if you need it.

Specific responsibilities

In carrying out its job, the committee has to take account of good practice and the law. In this sheet we have broken these responsibilities down into 4 areas:

A. The general responsibilities of the management committee of every group.

These two sections apply to very small and informal groups, as well as to larger groups.

1. Running the group and meetings
2. Keeping the group on track

B. Financial and organisational matters.

Sections 3-6 are most relevant to larger groups and groups which apply for grants (although even very small groups need to keep proper accounts).

3. Finances
4. Fundraising
5. General organisation
6. Legal liability

C. Tips for organising activities…

… such as fetes, fundays, sports events for children or a social club for people with learning difficulties.

7. Organising events and activities (including fundraising events)
8. Members of the group and people you work with

D. Responsibility for people and premises.

These sections are relevant if you employ someone or have a volunteer doing a regular job or you manage premises.

9. Employment and volunteers
10. Premises

Within many of the sections, we suggest ways of organising your affairs to help you keep on top of things and carry out your responsibilities.

If you are looking for ideas on running a good committee or involving people in your group, we have information sheets covering topics such as Roles of Officers, Chairing a meeting, The Secretary’s job, The Treasurer’s job and our AGM checklist includes tips on making any type of meeting more interesting.

1. Running the group and meetings

If you have a constitution, it will set out things such as how often meetings should take place or who is entitled to attend. Although a group can run successfully without a constitution, it is advisable for every group to have some written rules. These rules can be very basic, but your group will run more smoothly if everyone is clear about the aims of the group, how it works, and who does what. If you need to write a constitution you could use our information sheet ‘Constitutions: Step by step help with writing a constitution

  • Brief new committee members.

Many newcomers are thrown in at the deep end and given no idea of how the group works or what its aims are.  It is not uncommon to find individual committee members who are unaware that they are part of a management committee with responsibilities.

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2. Keeping the group on track

  • Review the group’s activities – are you doing what the group is set up to do?
  • Use your money well

Ideally, everything which your group decides to do will help it achieve its aims.  However it is easy to get sidetracked.  For example, raising money may become your main activity rather than the means to an end.  It is a good idea for the committee to have a regular look at what the group is doing and assess whether it is achieving its aims.

If you are a larger group, it may be useful to have a systematic way of collecting information on your activities – it will make it easier to assess whether the group is on track.  You will almost certainly need to have reliable information if you have to report to a funder on how you have used your grant.

See our information sheet ‘Monitoring and evaluation

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3. Finances

Every committee member is responsible for making sure that the group accounts for its money properly.  It’s not just the responsibility of the Treasurer even though they deal with the money day-to-day.

If lots of people are handling money or the group takes in regular amounts of cash, it is a good idea to write some basic financial rules to ensure that everybody does the same thing and that the money is properly looked after.

  • Keep proper financial records
  • If you have grants, make sure that you spend the money as you said you would in the grant application
  • Prepare financial reports for each committee meeting
  • Prepare end-of-year accounts, and have them examined if required by the constitution or charity law
  • Draw up basic financial rules
See our section on Managing Money for more information on taking care of your group’s money, keeping good accounts and agreeing financial rules.

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4. Fundraising

  • Work out a basic budget and decide how you will raise the money.
  • Raise the money!

We have a lot of useful information on Raising money.

Fundraising is not separate from the group’s activities. You need to have a clear idea of what your group will do in the coming year in order to work out how much you need and to describe the work in an application. So, try to involve everyone on the committee or in the whole group in planning and fundraising. More help with this can be found our pages on Fundraising Strategy.

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5. General organisation

  • Insurance policies

Some insurances, such as employers’ liability insurance if you have staff, are a legal requirement.  Depending on your group’s activities other insurances may be a good idea, some required by your landlord or funder.  There are a number of brokers which specialise in arranging insurance for charities and other community organisations. See our information sheet on Public Liability, our list of people who can provide information on insurance and this list of insurance companies with policies for community groups and events.

  • Equal Opportunities/Equality

You should look at ways of trying to ensure that your is group open and welcoming to everyone in the community who wants to get involved.  It may help to write a policy for the group, but the important thing is what you do.  If you are applying for grants, most funders will ask you to show that you are concerned about equal opportunities and many will ask you for a written policy. See our information sheet Writing an equal opportunities policy

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6. Legal liability

  • Take legal or other advice when in doubt
  • Consider the pros and cons of indemnity insurance.

Committee members can be held personally liable if the group gets into debt or has other legal problems.  If there is no management committee, then every member of the group is liable.  However, it is rare for individuals to face action and there should be no problems so long as the committee does everything it can to run the group responsibly.

It is possible to take out indemnity insurance to cover committee members if action is taken against them individually. However, this insurance will not be valid if the committee fails to run the group properly and responsibly so this type of insurance may not be good value for money. NCVO have produced a guide on trustee liability, which gives further information on this issue.

If you are registered charity, the law sets out what can and cannot be covered by indemnity insurance. Older constitutions may prohibit the use of such insurance; in this case you will need to get permission from the Charity Commission if you want to take out an indemnity insurance policy.

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7. Organising events and activities (including fundraising events)

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8. Members of the group and people you work with

  • Treat people equally.

You have legal obligations towards the people who you provide services to or work with, and to members of your group.
The Equality Act 2010 replaces all of the existing equality legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act. It covers equality of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation, as well as pregnancy and maternity. For more help with this see our information on Equal Opportunities Policies, and our links to organisations that provide advice about equality and diversity.

  • DBS checks, child protection and safeguarding.

It is your responsibility to protect children and vulnerable adults who take part in your activities.You may be required by law to carry out DBS checks on staff or volunteers. Groups concerned include playschemes, after school clubs, sports activities for children, social clubs for adults with learning disabilities or advocacy projects. See our information sheet on the Disclosure and Barring Service, and our links to organisations that help with child protection and safeguarding.

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9. Employment and volunteers

If you employ one or more persons, your group has a number of legal obligations:

  • Employment laws such as the Employment Rights Act
  • Terms and Conditions of employment for each employee
  • Grievance and disciplinary procedures.
    • Another local group may be able to help with Terms & Conditions and procedures, but you will of course have to rewrite them to suit your circumstances.
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Health & Safety at Work Act
    • See Premises section of this page  for details of help on health & safety
  • PAYE Tax and national insurance
  • HM Revenue and Customs gives information and advice.

You may find our list of organisations that provide information on being an employer useful.

In addition to your legal responsibilities, you will have to make arrangements to manage and supervise staff and volunteers.

  • Volunteers’ agreements
    •  It is good practice to have a written agreement with each volunteer setting out their terms and conditions.
  • Co-ordinating and training staff and volunteers
  • Consider becoming an organisation with limited liability, such as a charitable company, a limited company or a community interest community (CIC).
    • A community group does not have limited liability. This means that its members sign any contracts as individuals and carry the risk of personal liability. You may want to consider becoming a limited company if you intend to take on employees or hold a lease or buy property. However many community groups do employ one or two staff or hold a lease without any problems at all. Our info sheets Legal structures for Not-for-profit organisations and Legal Structures for Community and Voluntary Groups look at the benefits and disadvantages of the forms of organisation available.

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10. Premises

If you own or lease premises you will need to consider a range of issues:

  • Health & Safety legislation
  • Fire safety
  • Public health and hygiene
    • Brighton & Hove City Council is responsible for monitoring and advising on health & safety legislation in work premises.  The Health & Safety team also issues licences to some businesses, including taxis, where high levels of safety and hygiene are required. If food is prepared or sold, you must register with the Food Safety Team 28 days before opening.
  • Lease or tenancy agreements
  • Security of premises and contents
  • Maintenance and general repairs
  • Access for disabled people. See our information on equal opportunities and list of places to get advice about equality and diversity.
    • Make sure that it is clear whether the landlord or your group is responsible for things such as security, maintenance and access.  If you rent part of a building, check whether you are responsible for full maintenance of the rooms which you rent.  If in doubt, get legal advice on this and any other aspect of a lease.
  • Letting and booking arrangementsIf you hire out rooms for meetings or other events, make sure you have good booking arrangements and ‘agreement forms’ to make the conditions of room hire clear to the hirer.
  • Consider becoming an organisation with limited liability. See this point under Section 9.

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Further reading

We have a range of books in our reference library which cover all these areas in more detail.  Good starting points for further information and suggestions on where to get specialist help are ‘Just about managing?’ and ‘Voluntary but not Amateur‘.

See the Books tab in our Role of the management committee section for a full list.

Appendix

What is a management committee?

A typical community group ranges in size from a handful of members to a membership of a hundred or more.  Legally it is an unincorporated association and it may also be a charity.  Its governing body, the group of people which runs its affairs, is commonly referred to the management committee.

Most community groups have a constitution (or set of rules).  A section of this defines the management committee, including its size and how often it should meet.

There are other forms of community organisations – charitable companies (incorporated organisations) and charitable trusts.  Their governing bodies have similar responsibilities to the management committee of a community group, but they have additional legal obligations.For more information on forms of community organisations, see our info sheet Legal structures for community and voluntary groups.

Who sits on the Management Committee?

The committee is drawn from members of the group and is elected by them, usually at an annual general meeting (AGM).

Groups often have officers, such as chair, secretary and treasurer, and they too are part of the management committee.  They may be elected by the full membership at the AGM or by the committee at its first meeting, according to the constitution.  Although the officers carry out particular jobs in the group, they have no more legal or financial responsibilities than other committee members.

The committee may also invite other people to serve on the committee (known as co-opting).  They may be members of the group but can come from outside, and are generally co-opted because they have particular skills or knowledge.

A very small group may meet informally and have no elected committee.  Many groups with modest aims and activities run very successfully like this. In this instance, the entire group is the ‘management committee’ and everyone is responsible for the group’s affairs.

What do individual members do?

Although every committee member shares responsibility, this does not mean that each member has to do everything.  The job of members is to ensure that someone does each task and reports back to the committee.  The tasks may be done by committee members, members of the group or people from outside.  The most important thing is that the committee should work together and take joint responsibility. See our information page on Roles of Officers for more detail on what each officer’s job usually involves.

Updated October 2014