I have been a long time member of a local expat community and have been serving on the committee for many years. We have been ticking along quite nicely for ages, organising a few events a year, sometimes new people joined the committee, some got bored and left. All very informal, consensus based and working well.
Since last year, however, one committee member began inviting more and more of her friends to our meetings, over time essentially taking over the committee by that group of close friends who are now almost in a position to outnumber any voting, any decision making, steering the community their way. Needless to say some long term members had enough and left, which further strengthens the newcomers numbers.
Currently our constitution permits new committee members to be voted in by the existing members present on a meeting and they immediately assume all rights - namely voting about events, money, etc. That's clearly suboptimal and is already causing problems.
Why they do it? I'm not entirely sure - we are only a small community, some 200 members across the town and a few hundreds dollars of annual budget. No big money, no big influence, the committee members are volunteers and not paid, sure they may score a free beer here or there but other than that no idea why they even bother... Must be an ego thing I guess. "Hey I'm a committee member, see!"
How to deal with this?
We decided to update our constitution after many years to deal with the problem before it's too late.
One idea is to introduce two levels of committee membership - New member and Active member. People could earn the Active member status by being the main organisers of an event for the benefit of the whole community. Only Active members could vote during the meetings on all questions while New members could only vote on issues directly related to the event/project they are organising (if any - most don't seem to bother working for the community at all, they only bother to eagerly agree with everything their mates say). This setup should effectively block the newcomers from running the show before "proving themselves". What do you think? Is it a good approach?
Have you got any other idea on how to deal with this kind of unwelcome "hijacking" of a committee?