By now, I’m sure you’re all on board (pun intended) with the importance of building these community partnerships. But wait! Before you run off and start recruiting, here are 5 key principles to take into consideration prior to establishing these committees.

1. Define the advisory committee’s focus.
It is important for the committee to have a clear content or operational focus. Perhaps you want a committee comprised solely of people with lived experience related to your nonprofit’s mission—i.e. people who have experienced houselessness or survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence. This kind of advisory committee might be crucial in making sure the programs your organization implements actually serve the community effectively.

2. Consider what perspectives are important (and outreach accordingly).
There’s nothing wrong with putting out a broad recruitment announcement for committee members, but that shouldn’t be the only way that you build your committee membership. After all, general announcements may not reach the people and organizations that are important to your work.

3. Create structure.
Structure is crucial to developing and sustaining an effective advisory committee. However, structure does not have to mean rigidity. In fact, your committee’s structure should be flexible enough to adapt to your nonprofit’s changing needs and dynamics.

4. Provide your advisory committee with clearly defined projects and activities.
There are few things more important to the overall engagement and functioning of an advisory committee than this principle. Too often, advisory committee members show up, listen to a staff person talk, and then leave without feeling as though they have actually been given a chance to contribute.

5. Ensure that your committee members know their value and impact.
Have you ever contributed time and energy to a project only to never find out if (and/or how) your contributions were ever utilized? Such an experience can be incredibly demoralizing and will almost surely lead to opting out of participation in the future.

Read the full article about nonprofit advisory committees by Shannon Rose at Blue Avocado.