How do nominations for committee positions work?

Borthwick Chris Jul2019lg

In this help sheet series, Our Community’s resident agony uncle, Chris Borthwick, offers answers to frequently asked questions about issues not-for-profits are facing.

Dear Agony Uncle,

My question is about nominations for committee positions. How can people move and second a nomination before the AGM? Can people be nominated from the floor at the AGM if there were nominations in before the meeting?

Agony Uncle's answer

In general terms, the first question to ask here is "How formal are we?"

Different organisations have different levels of tolerance for stretching or breaching the constitution. Large ones with large bank balances are understandably rigorous; small ones with shoebox accounting tend to do whatever's convenient.

Your constitution may say something like "Nominations for committee positions must be received 14 days in advance on the attached form” (or it may not, leaving it all to the judgement of the board). If it does, then you normally wouldn't get to nominate anyone at the meeting itself, with the frequent exception of the situation where fewer people have been nominated than there are vacancies, when there's generally an agonised appeal for volunteers (though the gaps may also be filled at a later date by the casual vacancy provisions). If your constitution doesn't make specific provisions, then in the first instance the board chair would say what the procedures were.

As to what the rules should be, there are competing pressures. There's some point in getting the names before the members in enough time for the names to be checked and the manifestos, if any, read; on the other hand, greater flexibility may make it easier to fill the slots.

You can ask for nominations to be seconded in advance - just include a line for it on the form. Bear in mind, though, that any formality, no matter how apparently trivial, is going to discourage some applicants.

Best wishes,
Agony Uncle.

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