Board self-evaluation is a process that allows nonprofit boards of directors to examine their own performance and improve the way they goes about their work.
As nonprofits grow and the needs of their constituency change, boards often do not keep pace by examining the nonprofits’ mission and purpose. Some boards seem to function well, but suffer from a lack of a shared vision. Board members may also have different perceptions about the organization’s purpose.
Increasingly, boards are turning to self-assessments as a vital governance tool. Selfassessment gives the board an opportunity to step back from its everyday business and address larger, more fundamental issues. In addition to allowing boards to reflect on how well they are meeting their responsibilities, self-assessment helps boards focus on integral aspects of their work—from strategic direction setting and oversight to fund-raising and ministry outreach. Self-assessments can shake boards out of micromanaging the organization’s work and redirect their focus to governance issues. It can lead to a more engaged board—and a higher performing one.
Boards use a variety of tools and processes for assessments. Some design their own; others use questionnaires created by other organizations or consultants. Some ask outside experts to assess their performance, while others rely primarily on their own member input.
Some use interviews. Some use questionnaires. Some use both. Some use online self-assessments for quicker turnaround of results and ensured confidentiality. No matter what tool a board uses, a good self-assessment needs to ask relevant and clear questions; collect systematic feedback from a variety of sources; and make use of the information for developmental purposes, not as a report card.
Sample Board Self Evaluation forms. ECFA has three sample board evaluation forms. Each is to be completed by an individual board member to evaluate:
• Sample #1 – the board as a whole
• Sample #2 – their own personal board performance and involvement