NIREC Advice Sheet No. 1 – Committees
This regional advice sheet was prepared by the N.I. Regional Executive Committee using the feedback from local U3As at a Regional Workshop led by Carole Millen of the Third Age Trust. For further advice see the Third Age Trust Advice Sheet 11 (Induction of new trustees), Discussion Paper 3 (The Challenge of Finding Committee Members) and other material available on the national website or on request from the National Office.
Encouraging Volunteers for Committee and Non-Committee Roles
Ensure new members are informed, and existing members are regularly reminded, positively but lightly, of the U3A self-help ethos of co-operation and sharing as defined by the Objects and Principles. Know your members and nurture talent so that potential committee members are identified and relationships established for a direct approach to be made. Keep members informed of the committee role, invite them to sit in on committee meetings and stress that help is available so that they are aware that committee membership need not be too onerous.
Support for New Committee Members
All committee members must be informed of the scope of their role and that they are trustees. Request a copy of the Start-Up Pack or Committee Pack from National Office and take new trustees through the material. Define roles and responsibilities in a job description. Identify and list these by current committee, and inform the membership. Have a designated buddy to assist new committee members and invite members to shadow roles.
Increasing Committee Effectiveness
Have a clearly defined structure – roles and responsibilities specified in a job description, a clear agenda for meetings and use sub-committees for regular and special tasks. Consider establishing a sub-committee for education. Delegate work load to include non-committee members, which will both share the load and encourage broader participation. Ensure that no one committee member dominates and that all contribute.
Communication with Members
Have a broad range of channels to communicate with members e.g. Face to face, Newsletter, Technology, Hard copy, Notice board, Email, Website, etc. Support Interest Group Leaders as the life-blood of the organisation.
Have a strategy in place to encourage new members to join, to keep fresh ideas and potential new volunteers coming through the door. This could include word of mouth, local press and media, speaking at pre-retirement courses or other similar events. Encourage activities to attract males, who are typically under-represented within U3A.
Issue Date: 28/11/13