The Maine Association of Nonprofits has perfectly summed up the critical importance of regular self-assessments for boards:
A strong, vibrant board of directors is a clear indicator of a healthy organization. Yet even the best organizations need a periodic check-up to ensure that they cannot just survive but will really thrive in today’s environment. To check your board’s vital signs, or to put in place practices and strategies for a healthy and energized board, the best place to start is with a board self-assessment.
Self-assessment and evaluation are worthwhile and critical components to ensure your board is functioning at its highest level and working to accomplish its mission. It may result in board training (an overlooked area) or some focus or action (review by-laws, create fundraising committee, research executive compensation etc.).
Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree (scale of 1-5 five being agree strongly) with the following statements.
- The board did well during the pandemic.
- The board monitors and evaluates the performance of the executive director on a regular basis (at least every other year).
- All members participate on some level in the evaluation.
- Annual performance goals are set by the board and CEO.
- The board reviews the compensation package of top executives for reasonableness.
- The process of review and compensation is documented in writing.
- There is a succession plan in place.
- Board members discuss organization-wide policy issues, rather than managing the day-to-day affairs of the organization (i.e., not micromanaging the staff).
- The board reviews personnel policies periodically.
- The board ensures a whistle blower policy exists.
- The board ensures a document destruction policy exists.
- Board members regularly read and prepare for board meetings ahead of time.
- There is a diversity of board members.
- The diversity mirrors the client base.
- There is sufficient diversity training of the board.
- All members participate in fundraising for the organization.
- There is a strategic plan in the last few years and board meetings use the strategic plan to measure progress.
- The board reviews and understands financial statements regularly.
- Financials controls are in place.
- (Open-ended) Do you have suggestions for improvement?
You can develop your own grid or questionnaire, adapt one found on web, or hire a consultant to help with the process.
Here are some additional resources you might find useful:
- Board Self-Assessment tool and link to free guide Is Your Board Ready for Self-Assessment? (Maine Association of Nonprofits)
- Sample self-appraisals for the board as a whole and individual board members (Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability)
- Successful board self-assessments (BoardSource)
- Dalhousie University Board Self-Evaluation https://library.wyo.gov/downloads/ldo/pdf/boards/BoardEval2.pdf
- Board Self–Evaluation Questionnaire – Governing Goodwww.governinggood.ca › 07 › Board-Self-Evaluation
- Stanford University https://nonprofitdocuments.law.stanford.edu/corporate-governance/practical-tools/board-self-assessment-questionnaire/