When a major piece of work or a complex issue needs to be tackled, a large committee will not always produce the best result. This is an opportunity to form a sub-committee, which reports to the Group Trustee Board. The full rules relating to sub-committees and how they are formed can be found in POR.
A sub-committee has the advantage of being:
- small enough to meet more frequently than large groups and to function more quickly
- able to look at some issues in greater detail
- able to draft in those with special knowledge or skills.
There are however some key issues to bear in mind when setting up a sub-committee. They need:
- a Chair who would normally be a member of the main Trustee Board
- a clear remit and job to do
- a clear definition of the limits of authority and who they report to.
Try to include a range of people on any committee and make it specific to their role to serve on it. Leaders in the Scout Group often have more than enough to do, so look elsewhere for people who are not so committed.
The Group Trustee Board may establish any number of sub-committees to manage the work that it deems necessary. Taking on such responsibilities will help free up the time of section leaders to let them do what they are good at – running their sections. Obviously, the more people who are involved in helping out the Group, the more that will get done.
Any sub-committee will require a separate Chair. Having a separate team for these duties lifts a huge weight from the leaders, and having a separate Chair ensures that they are organised and focused. It is normal for the Chair of a sub-committee to be drawn from members of the Group Trustee Board. If this was not the case there would be no clear line of report. The Group Scout Leader and Group Chair are ex-officio members of any sub-committees set up in this way.
Chairing a sub-committee is no different to any other meeting. There are key three stages:
- preparing for meetings
- at a meeting
- after and in-between meetings.
The key messages are that you need to be well prepared, involve those who are part of your team and ensure that the task moves forward. Remember that people will lose interest if they are not involved or if they don’t believe that you are all making progress.
It's up to the Group Trustee Board to set clear objectives for any sub-committee. If you are asked to be a Chair for a sub-committee, ensure that you are given clear and achievable aims. For example:
- How long will the sub-committee last – is it responsible for the management of a single event or more long-term objectives?
- What budget has the Trustee Board allocated to the sub-committee?
- Is the sub-committee expected to generate funds for the Group, and if so, how much?
- How regularly will the activities of the sub-committee need to be reported to the Group Trustee Board?
Check with your Group Chair or Group Scout Leader (GSL) to see if any guidelines exist for any sub-committees you become involved in. If not, it may be worth the sub-committee Chair and GSL or Group Chair drawing one up. This will help ensure that all parties are aware of the expectations, main tasks and key criteria of the sub-committee. Regular reports to the Group Trustee Board will allow them to keep track of the progress of the sub-committee, ascertain whether any additional support is required, and review the sub-committee’s key targets.
Taking these steps early on will help make any sub-committee more effective and focused.
Sub-committees can be set up for a wide range of purposes such as a new headquarters project, celebratory Group camp or organising a family social evening. These can be formed and dissolved as and when they are deemed necessary by the Group Trustee Board.
Below are a few examples of some typical sub-committees. They are provided to outline some of the common tasks and responsibilities associated with sub-committees; they might help you find an area that you could further support the Group, or provide guidance for a sub-committee you are currently involved in. Sub-committee members do not need to be on the Trustee Board but they could be. Typical sub-committees might be:
- Fundraising sub-committee
- Communications sub-committee
- Group Headquarters sub-committee
- Social sub-committee
Other sub-committees may be established to do specific short or long term tasks.
All Scout Groups need funds to provide their wide variety of activities and events, purchase equipment, provide badges and so on. Some establish a sub-committee or small working group to help them do this, usually under the direction and guidance of the Group Treasurer.
Some of the sub-committee’s main tasks could include:
- to raise funds for the Group
- to co-ordinate all required fundraising activities for the Group
- to be the main point of contact for the Group regarding any Group fundraising requirements, internally and externally
- to communicate effectively, as a sub-committee, and with the Group Trustee Board.
Any fundraising committee must include at least two members of the Group Trustee Board, in addition to the ex-officio members. No Section Leader or Assistant Leader may serve on such a fundraising sub-committee.
There are a number of ways that a fundraising sub-committee can help raise funds for the Group. For example they can ensure that the Group is using the Gift Aid scheme for membership subscription payments, organise a fundraising campaign, plan a specific fundraising event, encourage online donations or develop links with local businesses/individuals. For any fundraising scheme you will have to think very carefully about:
- what you want to do
- why you want to do it
- what you need the money for
- what the benefits will be.
A successful or repeatable fundraising scheme can be extremely valuable for a Group. It brings all kinds of direct and indirect benefits. However, for every successful scheme that attracts new supporters, another could fall flat, get rained off or have the sponsor pull out at the last moment. You must always evaluate the fundraising potential against the risk of losing money. A well-run event can make money, take your message out to a wider public, involve existing supporters and bring in new supporters. But many absorb a great deal of energy for very small returns.
The Group Trustee Board may feel that a communications sub-committee is worthwhile for your Group. Such a subcommittee can help provide an achievable plan to enable the Group to communicate effectively at all levels with parents, young people, other members in the Scouts, the media, the general public and members of
Some of the sub-committee’s main tasks might be to:
- provide and maintain a useful and informative website
- provide a newsletter of Group activities available to all
- maintain and improve the image and profile of the Group
- develop and enhance communication throughout the Group
- be the main point of contact for the Group regarding communication and media issues.
Local media and press publicity can be very influential for members of the public. The best way to generate positive coverage for your Scout Group is to contact your County Communications Manager (Assistant Regional Commissioner (Communications) in Scotland) who will be happy to help you. This relationship could be managed by one designated person, who could be a member of the sub-committee.
There are a number of other roles that could be delegated to individuals with the required skills and commitment. For example a Group Communications Manager could maintain contact with local newspapers and other media, your Group may have a Group magazine editor to work with the Group Secretary to promote the activities within the Group, or you may need a website/social media manager to be responsible for all the Group’s online presence.
There are thousands of charities in the UK. It’s therefore vital for the Scouts to stand out from the crowd. To help achieve this, we need to make sure any materials a Group produces promote the #SkillsForLife young people local will develop while with the Scouts. They need to follow the Scouts’ brand guidelines and visual identity including colour pallet, fonts and design.
To help, the Scouts has a brand centre which can be used to help create on-brand materials without expense or expertise. Find out more about these support materials.
Let’s show how we help young people develop #SkillsForLife in a uniformed way so that we attract more volunteers and increase our funding. When we speak with one voice and present a consistent image of the Scouts, we can build recognition and support locally and nationally.
Most Groups need to look after the premises which they use, whether it is their own property or a room or building that they share. Group supporters are a valuable source of help for building maintenance, painting, cleaning and general duties to make sure that premises remain fit for purpose. The Group Trustee Board could ask a volunteer to act as a headquarters/maintenance manager or they may decide a headquarters/maintenance sub-committee is necessary.
The sub-committee or manager will help co-ordinate this role in order to improve and maintain the condition of the premises the Scout Group uses and ensure compliance with health and safety requirements and any other regulation appertaining to the use of the premises.
Scout Groups need equipment to run an exciting programme of activities for their young people. Equipment costs money, and each item will represent a good deal of hard work in fundraising. It follows, therefore, that everybody in the Group needs to look after the equipment.
The care and control of the equipment could be the responsibility of an Trustee Board member who has taken on the responsibility of Quartermaster. The Quartermaster should work closely with the adults in the Group and also with the Group Treasurer, who is responsible for the inventory and insurance of the equipment.
Having someone to deal with the day-to-day upkeep, repair and booking in and out of equipment will really help to ensure equipment is looked after and available for use when needed.
The key elements of the role could be to:
- operate the booking arrangements for equipment
- control the issue and return of equipment
- check the condition of equipment
- maintain the equipment
- give advice about the need for refurbishment or replacement of equipment
- advise the Group Treasurer of the need to modify the inventory.
It's a role that requires a good deal of patience and flexibility. Remember that the equipment is there to be used; working with the leader team will help make sure this happens.
Some Groups have their own minibus, trailers or other items that need looking after, and often Groups arrange transport to take members to activities. A Trustee can help support and advise the Group Treasurer in order to keep on top of the maintenance and care of any motor vehicles belonging to the Group. This will ensure that all vehicles are properly registered, licensed and insured as necessary, and that all requirements as to their condition, testing and the license requirements for drivers, as well as any other matters are fulfilled. Taking on this role could be a good way of taking the load off the section leaders.