There are several elements to a good evaluation. Let me mention those first.

I like to see evaluations which:

  • Make sure that the evaluation is a good match for the job description. You may even want to go through job description first, as a group with the executive director, to make sure it is complete and reflects the board’s expectations for the director. This will help you capture the routine performance issues.
  • Take a look at the goals set for your organization. If you don’t have a formal strategic planning process (which you are required to have, by the way) then you can look at grant applications to find the goals and objectives you’ve promised funders or other stakeholders that the organization will accomplish. This may include the State Plan for Independent Living, as well, because usually that plan includes goals for the centers.  You can ask your director to gather these and to report to the board on the progress on these goals over the past year. This will help you capture progress made over the past year.
  • Invite the director to comment on all the areas prior to the board assessment, since often there are elements of the job that the board will not have detailed knowledge of.

There are many different ways to score these elements. Some centers use a numerical score, usually 0 through 5 or 7 and translate to a numerical score. Others us language like, “failed to meet expectations” “met some of the expectations”, “expectations met”, “expectations exceeded”.

You can find some additional advice and a sample form tailored to non-profit directors at

One place that is a little tricky sometimes is how to get input from the entire board without complicating the process unnecessarily. I see several approaches to this, but the least effective is an attempt to write the evaluation with the entire board in an executive session. It is cumbersome at best.

Some streamlined approaches might include:

  • The board chair asks the members to provide her/him with their comments, then the chair creates a draft and reviews it with the Executive Director and includes that individual’s input into the form before going back to the board.
  • An evaluation committee or the executive committee completes the first draft of the evaluation and then that is reviewed in executive session with the board to be finalized before inviting the executive director to join them and provide feedback. (This is awkward because the ED is providing feedback after the board members have already made comments. If you choose this, make sure there is time for the ED to be heard before you finalize that section.)
  • Have the executive director complete the self-evaluation first, then the board chair or committee completes their draft with that information at hand.

The most important thing is that the evaluation takes place at least annually and provides an opportunity for the board and the executive director to discuss the past year’s performance and what support the board is willing to provide to the ED in the coming year to assist with meeting expectations and challenges that are discussed.

Tips for Boards — Evaluating the Executive Director

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