10 Things to consider in your Nonprofit Board Evaluation

A Guide to Ensuring Governance Effectiveness

4 people discussing board evaluation numbers and figures on an ipad

As a nonprofit organization, the effectiveness of your board of directors is crucial to achieving your mission and serving your community. Regularly doing a board evaluation can help identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. In this post, we’ll provide you with valuable tips on how certain criteria to assess your board’s performance, and we’ll also share external resources that can guide you through the evaluation process.

1. Establish Clear Evaluation Objectives:

Before diving into the evaluation process, it’s essential to outline clear objectives. What specific aspects of your board’s performance are you aiming to evaluate? Are you focused on board member engagement, fundraising efforts, or governance policies? Identifying your goals will help you tailor the evaluation process to your organization’s unique needs.

2. Utilize Self-Assessment Tools:

Self-assessment tools can be incredibly valuable in the board evaluation process. These tools often include surveys or questionnaires that board members can complete anonymously. They allow directors to reflect on their individual contributions, as well as the overall effectiveness of the board. Consider using self-assessment resources like those provided by the Council of Nonprofits.

3. Seek External Expertise:

Sometimes, an external perspective can provide valuable insights into your board’s performance. Consider bringing in a nonprofit consultant or facilitator with expertise in board evaluations. They can guide the process, ensure impartiality, and offer recommendations for improvement. (Want to know more? Ask us!)

4. Leverage Individual Evaluations:

Evaluating board members individually can help identify areas where they excel and areas that may need improvement. You can use evaluation forms like the one provided by Adelphi University. Encourage honest self-assessment, and emphasize that the goal is personal growth and collective success.

5. Conduct Group Discussions:

In addition to individual evaluations, consider organizing group discussions or workshops where board members can openly share their thoughts and insights. Facilitated conversations can uncover important issues and lead to collaborative solutions. It’s an opportunity to discuss challenges, align on goals, and strengthen teamwork.

6. Review Governance Documents:

Take a close look at your organization’s bylaws, policies, and governance documents. Ensure that your board is adhering to established guidelines. An external auditor or consultant can be invaluable in this process, as they can provide an objective assessment of your governance practices.

7. Measure Fundraising Effectiveness:

Nonprofit boards often play a significant role in fundraising efforts. Evaluate the board’s performance in this area by assessing their involvement in donor cultivation, grant applications, and overall fundraising strategies. Are fundraising goals being met, and is the board contributing effectively to financial sustainability? Reviewing financial reports and fundraising data can provide valuable insights.

8. Assess Board Diversity and Inclusivity:

Board diversity is essential for well-rounded decision-making and representation. Assess your board’s diversity in terms of race, gender, age, and expertise. Ensure that it reflects the community you serve. Evaluating inclusivity within board meetings and decision-making processes is equally important. Use tools like the one offered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to evaluate inclusivity.

9. Review Meeting Effectiveness:

Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of board meetings. Are meetings well-structured, productive, and focused on key priorities? Review meeting agendas, minutes, and attendee engagement. Consider using a board management software like BoardEffect to streamline meeting processes and enhance collaboration.

10. Continuous Improvement and Action Plans:

The evaluation process should lead to actionable insights. Identify areas that require improvement and create a detailed action plan. Assign responsibilities and set deadlines to address the identified issues. Regularly revisit your action plan to ensure progress is being made.

External Resources for Board Evaluation:

In conclusion, regularly evaluating your nonprofit board is a vital component of ensuring your organization’s success and fulfilling its mission. Utilize these tips and external resources to conduct a thorough and meaningful evaluation. Remember that the ultimate goal is to strengthen your board’s performance, enhance governance practices, and drive positive change within your nonprofit.

By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and accountability, your board will be better equipped to navigate the challenges of the nonprofit sector and make a lasting impact on your community.