Committee and management structure
With all playgroups there will be a range of tasks that need to be done. Some of these tasks relate to the running of individual playgroup sessions and others are about the overall functioning and management of the playgroup. Management and decision-making tasks that need to be done may include:
- Tasks related to the hiring of the venue – for example negotiating hire arrangements, collecting and storing keys, organising cleaning and building maintenance
- Organising or setting up playgroup sessions
- Purchasing toys and equipment
- Setting and collecting fees and managing the playgroup’s finances
- Promoting the playgroup
- Organising fundraising activities
- Receiving enquiries and enrolling new members
- Applying for grants
For information about the tasks involved in organising or setting up playgroup sessions please see the section on Organising playgroup sessions.
Ideally having a system for sharing the tasks means that the group has more people, skills and ideas to draw on. When one person takes on all of the tasks and responsibilities for running the playgroup it can lead to that person experiencing burn-out, others feeling disconnected and can also impact on the longer-term sustainability of the group. Getting more people involved has lots of benefits including contributing to a greater sense of ownership within the group as well as helping to create a more sustainable playgroup as families leave and new families join. Delegating tasks to others and asking for volunteers helps avoid overloading individuals and encourages more people to contribute to the group.
How tasks are organised varies from group to group, but generally most playgroups having some system or process for organising how these tasks get done. Some playgroups will have informal or casual arrangements and processes in place while others will choose to have more formal structures and systems such as committees or organising groups. Incorporated groups are required to have a management committee, see the Incorporated Playgroups section.
Whatever system your playgroup adopts, Playgroup WA recommends keeping things as simple and as easy as possible so that the work of running the playgroup doesn’t outweigh the enjoyment of being part of a playgroup. It is also a good idea from time to time to reflect on your processes and systems to make sure they are still relevant, effective and required and adjust them if necessary.
Different Management Structures
Informal management structures
Typically, small or single session groups may choose to use informal arrangements and systems for working out what needs to be done and who can do it. Decisions about processes and who is responsible often get decided through discussions within the group during playgroup sessions. In some situations, a small group of people take responsibility for organising things informally or may rotate tasks between different people for periods of time. Even with these kinds of informal structures it may be helpful to have some information documented so that everyone is clear about how things work, what needs to be done, and how they can contribute.
Formal structures – committees or organising groups
Some groups, including larger, multi-session playgroups will choose to have a more formal structure such as a Management Committee or other organising group. For the purposes of this document, we will use the terms “committee” when discussing all forms of formal management structures.
Committee members volunteer their time and expertise and usually take on specific roles. There are specific requirements regarding committee roles and responsibilities for incorporated playgroups (see further information at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Unincorporated playgroups may still want to document some key information about how they would like their committee or management group to function and about the decision-making processes that will be in place.
Key committee positions
Key committee positions include President or Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer with a range of other positions such as:
- Enrolment/Contact Officer
- Fundraising Coordinator
- Purchasing Officer
- Session Leader/s (often helpful for multi-session playgroups)
- Promotions Officer
Each playgroup needs to determine what tasks need to be done, the committee positions they need to look after those tasks, what other representation they need (for example representatives from each session) and how big their committee or management group will be. Information about key committee positions is outlined in the sample Committee Roles and Responsibilities document.
Recruiting committee members
Recruiting new people to participate on the committee or management group can be challenging, however there are some things you can do that might make it easier to encourage people to step up and take on a role. Some ideas to help recruit committee members include:
- Provide clear information about the roles and tasks involved (see suggested role descriptions).
- Review your positions and processes to make sure they are still appropriate for your playgroup.
- Communicate the process to everyone well ahead of time. Provide information about the importance of the committee as well as a contact person so potential members can ask questions.
- Ask committee members to help recruit people.
- Approach individuals personally and invite them to take on a role.
- Invite prospective committee members to attend a meeting before nominating for a role.
- Have a nomination system that is promoted to all members.
- Consider re-organising roles if people are not able to commit to the position for the whole time. For example, some positions may be able to be shared.
- Offer incentives for committee members such as reduced fees.
- Make it mandatory to have a representative from each session on the committee.
- If your committee positions are changed at an AGM or special meeting, consider holding this meeting at a time that is more likely to suit families. Make the meeting relaxed and enjoyable to encourage more people to come along and to nominate for a role.
- Review your regular meeting frequency, times and arrangements and think about changes that might make it easier for people to participate.
Keeping committee members
Once you have a committee it is important to work in ways that encourage committee members to feel valued and motivated to continue. The following ideas may provide some helpful tips about keeping committee members:
- Respect and support each other
- Regularly review committee roles to make sure that they stay manageable and relevant
- Ensure that committee members are clear about their roles and expectations on them
- Have reasonable expectation about what you want to achieve and how much work is involved
- Be flexible about how and when you have meetings
- Try to keep meetings relaxed and enjoyable
- Acknowledge the contribution of committee members – make sure they know that their work and contribution is appreciated and let others know as well.
Replacing committee members
People resign from committees for a variety of reasons. If this happens:
- Thank them for their contribution.
- If the reason for resigning is not clear, talk with them to see if there is anything that might encourage them to remain on the committee including any changes to committee processes required.
- Check your playgroup’s policies and procedures to see if there are any guidelines you need to follow. Incorporated groups should consult their constitution.
- Inform the members of the vacancy and invite nominations to fill the position.
- Provide any incoming committee members with information about the role and duties of their position.
- Where possible organise a handover from the outgoing committee member.
At the changeover of a committee or organising group it is a good idea to plan a ‘wind up’ meeting or process to hand over records, bank details and change account signatories. Ideally this should be as soon as possible after the AGM or election process.
Suggestions for ensuring a smooth handover of responsibility are outlined below:
- Include job descriptions for the committee positions and/or instructions about tasks.
- Ensure the finances and financial records are in order.
- Arrange for the change of signatories for bank accounts.
- Ensure all records and relevant information is provided to the incoming management group or committee.
- Allow time for incoming committee members to find out about the job they are taking on and to ask questions.
- Provide contact information for outgoing people.
- Have contact information for the new management group or committee available for everyone.
- Provide information about any upcoming events or important dates and processes.
- Set a date for the first meeting for the new committee or management group.
- Celebrate the success of the past year and acknowledge the efforts of volunteers in your group.
It’s important to ensure the following items are explained to the new committee or management group and handed over to them:
- All financial records
- Inventory of equipment
- Accident and injury book/records
- If the playgroup is a member of Playgroup WA handover Playgroup WA membership and insurance information
- Venue details, key arrangements, contact names and numbers
- Playgroup policies, guidelines and information pamphlets
- A file containing any useful resource material such as activity ideas, outings and events information, fundraising flyers and useful contacts
- Minutes of meetings
- Past applications for grants
- Relevant correspondence
- Information on where/ how attendance records are stored – transfer electronic records.
If your playgroup is incorporated you will also need to ensure the new committee has been given a copy of:
- Incorporation certificate
- The playgroup constitution
- A copy of the lease if applicable.