Why Board Evaluation?
“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.” This is the Maine Association of Nonprofits summary of the need for assessing your board of directors. It applies to all of us in the nonprofit sector.
Two Approaches: Self Assessment and Independent Evaluation
I suggest you use both. An annual self-assessment can identify ongoing needs and allow the board to address needs before they become problems. I start with a basic question: What is the mission of our nonprofit, and how can I advance that mission?
When it’s time to select an independent evaluation contractor, think of the size of your organization—budget, staffing, board size, committee structure, etc.
Goals for Evaluation
Working with your board, determine your goals for the evaluation.
What do you want to know? Are there specific problems to address? It is critical that everyone—you, your board and the contractor—have a shared understanding of the goals.
Think about timing. Avoid high-activity program times and seek input from board members and your contractor.
What documents will your contractor need to see? When? Do you need to go through a bid process? What is your budget?
These questions will guide you to select a contractor that fits your needs.