New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Committees: The Essentials

•    Effective committees reflect the demographics of the shareholders or unit-owners. Therefore, every attempt should be made by the leadership and committee members to recruit people who reflect the makeup of the building. The board should use measures ranging from statistics, surveys, interviews, and observations to gather accurate and up-to-date data for use in creating committees. Those most affected by the actions of a project or area should also be included.

•    Committees serve and are appointed to further the goals of management or elected boards. There should be a periodic board review of the scope and job description of committees. As times and needs change, so do committees. Once it has fulfilled its specific mission, a committee should not unilaterally take on new duties.

•    Committee sizes should be established and confirmed as permanent standards. Studies show that having 6 to 12 members is the optimum size for effective committees. Fewer can be ineffective; more can be unwieldy. When terms expire, new volunteers will have opportunities to serve.

•    Optimum committee membership is one year, never more than two years. That gives a member enough time to learn and become an expert, and also to train and mentor replacements. Open-ended tenures can result in vested interests. Term limits allow new talent and perspectives to contribute to the community.

•    Members can serve on only one committee at a time and must recuse themselves if election to the board or another conflict of interest occurs.

•    Effective organizations should have procedures for recruiting and maintaining committee members. Notices in newsletters, bulletins, and message boards should note an upcoming need for committee members with basic job/volunteer descriptions, such as “meets once a month,” or “need for particular representation, diversity, or skills, such as parents, gardeners, under-30 shareholders.”

•    At buyer interviews, the interview committee should begin recruiting. As part of the interviewing process, the buyer’s expertise, interests, and commitment to serve the community should be assessed and that information given to the management or board and committee chairs. As part of their responsible service to the community, members of committees will recruit neighbors, friends, and acquaintances and submit names of interested and qualified residents to the board.

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