Image of Nancy Ridenour, a femal wearing a black long-sleeve top with the following words in a light yellow circle: Nonprofit board assessments: How to evaluate board members

Nonprofit Board Assessments: How to Evaluate Nonprofit Board Members

Nancy Ridenour, NLC Board Chair Tips

How do you know if a nonprofit board is carrying out its duties successfully? Nonprofit board assessments are essential to measure board effectiveness and ensure board members govern the organization appropriately.

What is a board evaluation?

A board evaluation is a process for assessing a nonprofit board’s performance and the extent to which its members fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Typically conducted annually, nonprofit board assessments analyze things like effectiveness, accountability and transparency. Board evaluations provide a critical check-up to ensure your organization is not only surviving but thriving.

How to Conduct Nonprofit Board Assessments

The Nonprofit Leadership Center utilizes BoardSource’s Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards to annually self-assess its board. The evaluation asks board members to evaluate how effectively it is carrying out the following responsibilities:

  1. Determines the organization’s mission and purpose and advocates for them
  2. Selects the chief executive officer
  3. Supports and evaluates the CEO
  4. Ensures effective planning/strategic direction
  5. Ensures adequate resources
  6. Builds a competent board and assesses its performance
  7. Ensures resources are managed effectively
  8. Determines and monitors the organization’s programs and services
  9. Enhances the organization’s public standing
  10. Ensures legal and ethical integrity

To engage the entire board in the process, use these tips for conducting your nonprofit board assessments:

  • Hold all board evaluations in a live setting, either in-person or utilizing video conferencing.
  • Ask members if they believe the board is effectively carrying out each task. Enable anonymous voting for each question.
  • Once voting is complete, discuss the results as a group to determine what can be done better and how. The process should stimulate engaging conversation and help strengthen and unify the board. It also helps new board members better understand the board’s role and how it’s performing.
  • Encourage sub-committee chairs to review results in their next committee meeting to discuss how they align with the committee’s roles and expectations.

Sample Board Evaluation Templates

While you should customize your board evaluation tool for your nonprofit organization, there are a variety of board self-evaluation templates to help you get started:

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Ultimately, board members have a responsibility to serve as effectively as possible. Nonprofit board assessments will help nonprofit board members create a culture of continuous improvement toward advancing a shared mission.