Committee chairs are board members tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the operations of special committees, such as fundraising committees or executive committees. They ensure committee meetings happen, are well organized, well attended and that the appropriate work is accomplished.
As with other board members, most committee chairs maintain an active professional life outside of serving on a board of directors, so this is not their only or main professional responsibility.
Committee chairs are knowledgeable leaders in their field who use their expertise to help an organization's board accomplish their goals. If the role of the board of directors in nonprofit organizations is to oversee the mission and vision, then the role of the committee chair is to do this in their area of specialty, whether that be fundraising, finance, legal or executive skills.
They accomplish this through scheduling committee meetings, coordinating with the executive director, ensuring meetings are ordered according to the bylaws, providing leadership and ensuring all agenda items are tended to in the allotted time.
There is not much difference between a for-profit and a nonprofit committee chair job description. In both settings, excellent leadership skills, organizational skills and people skills are integral to the success of their role and the board as a whole. Sometimes a committee chair might also be called upon to participate in special board training for nonprofit boards to learn about new for-profit or nonprofit board committees best practices and share this information with committee members.
Educational requirements for board committee chairs vary widely from organization to organization, as well as the specific committee a chairperson is leading. Most for-profit and nonprofit organizations seek professionals who are qualified leaders in their field.
This means that a lawyer would have passed the bar exam and have work experience as a lawyer. The chair of the finance committee is likely to be an accountant or enrolled agent. The fundraising committee chair might be a grant writer for a large university. Each of these fields has varying educational requirements, but the specific board chairperson job description in a given organization will stipulate the kind of candidate they have in mind.
Where Do Committee Chairs Work?
Board committee chairs conduct meetings in a variety of settings, depending on the organization they are serving. Some boards meet virtually using a web-conferencing application such as Zoom. Others meet in board rooms, meeting rooms, church basements or even homes. Small nonprofit boards are likely to meet in much less formal settings than large hospital or corporate boards. The bylaws sometimes stipulate when and where meetings are to take place, so a committee chair needs to be ready to abide by these guidelines as they work.
Years of Experience and Salary
Nonprofit board members, including committee chairs, typically serve without pay and at the pleasure of the board. They serve on the board because they believe in the organization's mission and vision and desire to be part of it. Board chairs in for-profit settings are hired on retainer, at the average rate of $61,445 per year. Retainers are sometimes larger with experience, but policies on this vary between organizations. One projection looks like this:
- Early Career: $42,500
- Mid-Career: $68,017
- Experienced: $81,389
Job Growth Trend
Job opportunities for all top executives, including board committee chairs, are expected to grow by 8% over the next decade, which is about as fast as in other industries. Opportunities might be more plentiful in nonprofit organizations, who do not usually pay their board members, as well as in industries that are growing very quickly, like the medical field. Stay at the top of your game in your field and day job to increase your chances of being offered a seat on a board.