Of course, there is no one right answer about the benefits of standing committees. But, I do have a bias against standing committees that have been around forever without revisiting their purpose.
What is the purpose of the committee? Is their charge clear? Is it defined in terms of outcomes that benefit the organization? What has the board delegated to this committee and is the board providing oversight to assure that the assigned work is getting done? If you have a current strategic plan, is the committee assigned strategies and outcomes that support advancement on that plan?
Committees that have a long history frequently, but not always, end up acting independently of the organization’s envisioned future and strategic direction. That committee’s work may or may not support the current strategic plan. There is a comfort zone for individuals who have been on a committee and in a position to define their own work and see it as somewhat independent of the rest of the organization.
If this is true of the standing committees of your organization, it might be worth an investment of the board’s time to review all committee charges (purpose statements, commissions, whatever you want to call it) and determine how those committees can best support the strategic plan and strategic initiatives. It may mean rewriting or refining the current committee purpose statement in terms of outcomes. In my experience, when the delegation of work to a committee changes from what the committee has comfortably done over the past many years, the folks on the committee will grumble and then, when held responsible for the outcomes, will either jump in and contribute or leave.
If you decide on investing in revisiting the purpose statements of all committees, it may also help the board identify the right person to be the next chair – someone who is on board with outcomes and board oversight.