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Boards Should Follow A Comprehensive Template To Create An Effective Board Committee Charter

Template for a Board Committee Charter


A committee charter template provides a basic structure to create a new charter for a committee any time your board needs one.

Every functional group has rules to guide it, and a committee charter outlines the committee’s purpose, responsibilities, and composition.

To help you create a committee charter quickly and easily, this article outlines the following:

  • What is a committee charter?
  • What is the purpose of a nonprofit committee charter?
  • How to structure your committee charter
  • Concise steps for writing a committee charter
  • Board committee charter template
  • Committee charter examples
  • Useful tips for creating your own committee charter

What Is a Committee Charter?

The purpose of a committee charter is to serve as a guide for how a committee conducts itself and runs its meetings. A committee charter definition will provide some clarity around the topic.

A committee charter is a written document detailing why the committee exists, what it needs to accomplish, and how it will go about its work. A committee charter also describes who has authority, the composition of the committee, who will take committee meeting minutes, and how the committee will report its findings to the board. When you use a board management system, your committee charters and committee charter templates are always accessible.

Purpose of a Committee Charter in Nonprofit Organizations

Without rules, there would be no order, and a committee could spend more time arguing about how to get things done rather than doing its work. A well-crafted committee charter enables committee members to get right to work and do their work efficiently from the very first meeting.

How to Structure Your Committee Charter

As you learn about how to write a charter for a committee, it helps to understand how to structure it. Often, a committee charter begins with a short overview of the committee’s purpose by way of a mission statement or statement of purpose. This is to ensure committee members are clear on why the committee exists and what they need to do to fulfill the committee’s purpose.

With a clear mission statement established, the next part of a committee charter addresses board composition. This section describes:

  • Who should serve on the committee (board members, volunteers, experts, etc.), and what their voting rights are
  • Who should serve as committee chairperson
  • Size of the committee

The bylaws may need to address how to choose a committee chair. In this case, the committee charter will include a section on how to select a committee chair. Either the board appoints the chairperson or the committee chooses its own chair. This section should also address the committee chairperson’s term, whether the committee should have a vice chair or co-chairperson, and how vice chair/co-chair gets elected or appointed.

The next section of a committee charter outlines the committee’s duties and responsibilities. For example, the charter should specifically state what types of decisions the committee can make and which situations call for board approval.

A committee charter often also includes other details such as:

  • Practices for reporting to the board
  • Attendance requirements
  • Details about meeting location and frequency
  • Which committee member takes minutes
  • The term of the committee
  • The level of access to confidential information
  • Information on what constitutes a quorum
  • Responsibilities of the committee

The committee charter remains in effect for the duration of the committee. The charter remains in continuous effect for standing committees, and it dissolves when a short-term committee completes its work.

The board and committees may opt to include any or all of the elements of a committee charter based on the need.

Concise Steps for Writing a Committee Charter

Writing a committee charter isn’t difficult when you break the process into three parts – preparation, writing the charter, and reexamining your charter.

Before You Begin

  1. Check state and federal requirements. This is especially important before creating a finance or audit committee charter.
  2. Reread the section of the nonprofit’s bylaws that pertains to committees. The bylaws inform the board on how to create committees.
  3. Unless it’s a standing committee, the board will generally need to vote on creating a committee to accomplish a certain task.

Writing the Charter for Your Committee

  1. The board writes the committee charter for the committee and delegates the committee’s powers.
  2. Write any legal requirements into the charter.
  3. With the committees’ purpose in mind, the board incorporates details such as what the committee needs to accomplish and when as listed in the above section on How to Structure a Committee Charter.

Reexamining Your Committee Charter

  1. Once your committee charter has been written, reexamine it against your bylaws to be sure it meets all requirements.
  2. Committee charter best practices suggest nonprofit boards reexamine the committee charters of standing committees annually. This is also a good time to refresh standing committees with new members.

Next, we’ll look at a charter template for a committee.

Example of a Board Committee Charter Template

FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE (or whatever type of committee is being formed)

Purpose – (Example of a Finance Committee purpose statement)

The Finance Committee shall assist the board of directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities related to income and expenses consistent with the board’s long-term goals. The Finance Committee shall review staff compensation and benefits for staff and make recommendations to the board.


The board will appoint the committee chair, co-chair, and members and each will serve a term of one year. The board may fill vacancies on the committee and may remove a member from the committee at any time without cause.

The committee shall have a minimum of three members and a maximum of five members. The committee is closed to non-members of the committee and the public.


The committee has no expressed or implied power or authority.


(List all appropriate responsibilities of the committee here.)

The committee will report its activities to the board at least on a quarterly basis.


The committee will meet at least quarterly and more often as needed. A majority of the committee members shall constitute a quorum. The committee chair will keep a copy of the committee meeting minutes and forward a copy to the board secretary. The committee chair may invite any director, officer, staff member, expert, or other advisor who isn’t a member of the committee to attend, but these individuals have no voting power.

The committee will review its charter at least biannually and recommend any proposed changes to the board for review.

This charter was written by Susan Smith and approved by the board on January 1, 2011. This charter was last updated on March 3, 2023.

This template for a committee charter is a basic tool for creating your own.

Examples of Types of Committee Charters

  • Executive Committee Charter (or steering committee charter)
  • Governance Charter
  • Audit Charter
  • Finance Charter
  • Fundraising Charter
  • Membership Charter
  • Facilities Charter
  • Nominating and Recruiting Charter
  • Compensation Committee Charter
  • Investment Committee Charter

Committee Charter Examples

The following nonprofit committee charter examples will give you some concrete ideas for creating your own template for a committee charter.

Any of these sample committee charters would prove useful for a nonprofit committee charter template.

Other Useful Tips for Creating Your Own Committee Charter

A committee charter template provides boards with a basic idea of how to create a board committee charter of any kind. There are a few other tips that boards should consider in creating committee charters.

  • Store all committee charters in your board management system.
  • A committee charter may be used for any purpose as long as it coincides with the bylaws.
  • A committee member should take minutes at every meeting and they should be stored with the board’s important documents. The best place to store them is in your board management system.
  • The board and bylaws may permit committees to go into executive session. If so, this should be stated in the committee charter along with the reasons the committee can enter executive session and the types of matters an executive committee can discuss.

The Benefit of Storing Committee Charters Electronically

Nonprofit boards generally don’t have enough time to accomplish everything they wish which is why a board management system is so valuable for nonprofit boards. A board management system streamlines many of the routine tasks boards routinely perform such as creating board books, sharing calendars, storing your governance documents, and much more.

The granular permissions feature of BoardEffect’s platform is especially useful for committees as it enables the board to give and deny access to workspaces designated for committee work as needed.

Learn how to simplify governance for your nonprofit board with BoardEffect by requesting a live demo today!


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