Many large organisations delegate important tasks or decisions to committees that are led by a chair person. Committees are most common in non-profit and religious organisations, but sometimes play a role in businesses. Most non-profit committee chairs are volunteers who fill the role out of a passion for the organisation.
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Each organisation has a designated leader such as a CEO or president, but the leader is not able to run the organisation by himself. Instead, he delegates various tasks and decisions to committees. Each committe is lead by a committee chair who ensures that the committee fulfils the tasks it was assigned and stays in alignment with the goals of the larger organisation. The committee chair attends meetings of the larger organisation to report on the committee's progress and receive further directions from the CEO or president. The committee chair also leads separate meetings of the committee.
The committee chair primarily acts as a communicator. He communicates progress on the committee’s projects and decisions to the president or leader or the larger organisation. He communicates the activities of the parent organisation to the committee. He also communicates with the other committee chairs and clients of the organisation. In some circumstances, especially at non-profit, the committee chair may communicate with members outside the organisation, such as potential members, people in the larger community or the media.
The tasks of a committee chair are specific to the particular goals of the committee. For example, the online chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life promotes online registration for the event. The chairman or woman is also responsible "for managing e-mail campaigns, site customisation, and reporting functions, and interacting with other committee members as needed to integrate online component into event fundraising structure.” In other examples from the Relay for Life, the logistics chair makes arrangements with the facility that hosts the event, the survivorship development chair ensures that cancer survivors in the community have the opportunity to participate and the publicity chair coordinates communication with the media.
The time commitment of a committee chair can vary widely depending on the goals of the committee. The Franklin School Parent-Teacher Organization in Burlingame, California estimates that the chair of bulletin boards and signs can expect to commit about one hour per week on an ongoing basis while the chair of the directory will commit about 60 hours in August and September and then be finished.
A committee chair must be an excellent communicator with highly developed leadership skills. She must have skills that are appropriate to the committee. She must also follow directions and accept feedback. She must be able to manage time and meet deadlines and must work well with a variety of people at all levels of the organisation. A committee chair job description posted by the Sierra Club in Nashville, Tennessee states that the chair should have a willingness to serve, ability to motivate, and “the ability to resist the temptation to do it oneself.”
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