This section is only concerned with non-entrepreneurial clubs, i.e. those clubs run by a committee staffed with volunteers. It deals with an ideal world and not all these ideas or suggestions are applicable, or relevant, to your Club. Depending on the structure of your Club, of your Committee and on the personalities that compose them, you may want to apply or discard some of these ideas.
This is to be considered as a set of guidelines to help making committee work both profitable to the Club and enjoyable to the members.
The powers of the Committee, the frequency of its meeting and the process of nomination and election will usually be defined by the constitution of the Club.
Briefly, the part on power will deal with membership application (and power to refuse with or without reason given the application of a person), disciplinary sanction against members, the power to act on behalf of the Club and the dealing with the Club's assets.
The organisation of the Committee's work will usually be left for the Committee to decide and the main discriminant factor will be whether the Club has retained the service of an employee to act as club administrator or whether all work is done by volunteers.
In this chapter, we shall assume that no professional administrator has been hired. However, should the Club elect to hire one, the two main functions that would be affected are the Secretary and the Treasurer.
This chapter will not be dealing with the Masterpoint Secretary position (see Chapter 5. for detailed description of the function)
Organisation of work
Three basic functions must be filled in any committee (President or Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer).
Furthermore, a bridge club should also have a Masterpoint Secretary (see chapter 5.) and an Ombudsman (or Recorder)
A general remark is that the work is better performed if done through sub-committees the chairperson of which will report to the main Committee.
These sub-committees can and should be staffed by co-opting club members from outside the main Committee. Keeping in mind the fact that committee people are volunteers and have a private and a professional life outside the Club, it is better to spread the workload. It also has the effect of grooming club members for future Committee positions, thus avoiding the race every year before the AGM to fill positions from too small a pool of volunteers.
These sub-committees should be chaired by a Committee member, which makes for easy reporting and which ensures that the Committee policy is followed.
A list of possible sub-committees is as follows:
- Tournament (with at least 2 sub-committees: Rules & Ethics and Appeals)
- Teaching / Lessons
- Social / Entertainment
The general principle is that all actual work is delegated to the sub-committees and that the agenda for the Committee meeting is a list of the sub-committees reports (apart from the procedural requirements of minutes approval) plus the Chairman's report.
Should this principle be adopted, three important consequences will ensue:
(a) The incoming correspondence must be copied and distributed for action by the Secretary to the relevant sub-committees WITHIN 48 HOURS of receiving it;
(b) The main Committee meeting will be short.
(c) The outgoing correspondence, generated by the sub-committees, must be copied to the Secretary who will keep the main correspondence file for the Club.
This system cannot work if the Club does not practice proper delegation, i.e. delegation of both authority and responsibility to the sub-committees chairpersons. For instance, your Club may want to give all the sub-committees authority to spend up to $xxx without reference to the main Committee, or authority to deal on behalf of the Club with administrations and outsiders in their areas of responsibility.
Organisation of meetings
The frequency of meeting is assumed to be monthly, but your constitution may decree otherwise.
In order to have smooth, reasonably quick and productive meetings, it is probably a good idea to observe the following rules:
- The Secretary to check with all Committee members whether they have some matter they want to add to the agenda for next meeting;
- Agenda for the meeting and minutes of last meeting to be distributed to all Committee members one week in advance. This will serve as a notice of the meeting;
- Reports from the sub-committees to be included in the meeting papers and distributed together with the agenda if they include matters that need reading beforehand;
This should ensure that everybody arrives at the meeting with a good idea of the points that will be discussed and no time will be lost briefing members.
Note must be made of the number of members attending the meeting to satisfy the quorum requirements and thus validate the decision taken at the meeting.
The Masterpoint Secretary may attend the meetings or may simply report through Tournament or Finance.
The Ombudsman or Recorder
The following is reprinted from the programme of the Lindfield Bridge Club with kind permission of this Club.
The club has appointed one of its members to act as recorder. This position exists for recording any events which occur at the club, which are seen as not being in the best interest of the Club.
Members should report to the Recorder, perhaps after first consulting the Director, events in the following categories:
- Suspicion of cheating or deliberate passing of illegal information;
- Offensive behaviour;
- The occurrence of psychic bids.
Periodically, the Committee may request to see the Recorder's book, and may take action if an individual has repeatedly been reported. Reports must be made in writing and placed in an envelope and either handed to the Office Administrator or posted to the Club. Forms and envelopes are available in the foyer. Verbal reports will not be accepted.
It should be noted that in all cases, the basic principle that no member can be accused without being made aware of the source and nature of the accusation and without being given the right to answer, must be protected.
The Ombudsman may attend the meetings or may simply report through Tournament or Rules & Ethics. Obviously, his / her input will be required if the Committee has to deal with a complaint against a member.
The short description of the position is that the Club Secretary is in charge of the records of the club, and handles all correspondence. In effect, it means that the Secretary is the hub of the Club.
The skills required are:
- Effective communication
- Sound administrative proficiency
- Recording and maintaining in an appropriate hard cover register all Minutes in relation to Committee, General and Extra-ordinary meetings of the Club;
- Act as contact point for Club and Committee members;
- Prepare all material required (including but not limited to Minutes, Agendas, Notice of Motions, Correspondence, etc) for the AGM and Extra-ordinary meetings including Motions passed by the Committee and requiring member ratification;
- Read minutes of previous meetings to the club members or members of the committee;
- Communicate with President and Committee members to create an Agenda for meetings and ensure agenda is followed/completed at such meetings. Establish a list of matters pending or arising for action at or before next meeting;
- Receive and distribute correspondence to the relevant person or Sub-Committee for action. Follow up as necessary to ensure timely responses;
- Write all letters, and answer correspondence on behalf of club (except for the letters written by sub-committees of which the Secretary is given a copy). A copy of all inward/outward correspondence (regardless of which Committee Member responds) is to be maintained in a Correspondence File kept with the Minute Book;
- The Secretary should also acknowledge receipt of all important letters written by a member, irrespective of the sub-committee to which this letter was given for action;
- Distribute flyers concerning other clubs' events, Congresses and competitions that may interest members. Prepare and post entry sheets for club events;
- Support / assist the President and Committee Members in the efficient running of the Club, especially by:
- Making sure entries to all events for which the Club nominates or selects representatives are sent on time;
- Always having a copy of the current year calendar;
- Reminding President and members of all coming events.
It is expected that a minimum of six hours per month is required to carry out this role. A notebook for keeping a record of enquiries whilst playing club events is advantageous
Refer to the page Treasurer / Accounting Functions in the Financial section for a detailed discussion of the Treasurer role.