Board Evaluation Processes

Board evaluation processes help governing Boards determine how well they are carrying out their responsibilities and identify strategies to develop areas that need improvement.

The objective of a Board evaluation and self-assessment is to help the Board improve its own work, and to move the Board to the next level of performance.

The purpose of a Board evaluation and self-assessment is to allow Board members to better understand their own roles and responsibilities and how they can more effectively fulfill their obligations.

The evaluation process can develop the Board’s team building skills, provide a structure for problem solving, and increase accountability within the organization.

In our experience of facilitating many Board evaluations, the main instigators of Board evaluation processes are the Chair (usually if there is an issue they want to bring out), the nonprofit CEO (usually when it is part of a general governance update process) and sometimes funding agencies or key stakeholders (usually in response to a perception of underlying governance problems).

About the Process

Board evaluations are typically based around nonprofit Directors rating themselves, or the Board as a collective, or rating both themselves and the collective Board. This rating is done on a series of questions related to their responsibilities and functions as a Board. The results of this self rating are then compiled and analysed, usually by an experienced external governance facilitator, and a report delivered to the nonprofit Board.

Covered in the Board evaluation should be:

- Clear knowledge of the Organization's Mission and Purpose

- Engage in Strategic Process

- Foster a conscious culture

- Board work program

- Strategic thinking skills of Board and CEO.

- Ensure Sound Risk Management Policies

- Support the CEO and Review CEO's Performance

- Relationship between Board, CEO and Staff

- Enhance the Organization's Public Image

- Carefully Select and induct new Board members

- Individual Board member Self-Evaluation

One of the most common complaints about Board evaluations is that they did not result in any, or many, changes. One of the key strategies we use that helps keep the Board focused is to develop a Board work program that specifies which recommendations are to be undertaken, who is responsible for ensuring that it occurs, and when that recommendation should be implemented. This provides a formal accountability and project plan for the Board, which is more likely to result in the recommendations being actioned.

If you choose to undertake a Board evaluation, firstly conduct a governance audit, ask for evidence of ratings as part of the evaluation, and implement a Board work program based on the recommendations. These three strategies will assist in your Board extracting the most value from the evaluation process.