Evaluating Your Nonprofit Board of Directors

One of a nonprofit’s most valuable assets is its board of directors. To create this value, a board must be diverse, dedicated and eager to assist your agency in fulfilling its mission. In today’s competitive philanthropic environment, it is essential to regularly measure the functionality and influence of your nonprofit board and determine practices and strategies that will strengthen its impact. Conducting a thoughtful board self-assessment is a solid place to begin.

Our suggestion is to give some real, honest reflection on the following questions about the nonprofit board you support or the one(s) you are a member of:

  • Does each of your board members clearly understand the organization’s mission, vision, services and programs in order to make meaningful contributions in a leadership capacity?
  • Assessing your current board, what are their profiles? Consider areas including demographics, individual skills and interests, dedication to your agency’s mission, appropriate level of diversity and reflection of the population served by your agency.
  • Does each member of your board feel engaged and involved in the oversight of your organization on a regular basis?
  • Does your nonprofit regularly recruit new members? If so, by what process? Is a standardized interview conducted and a set of standard questions asked?
  • What do orientation materials for new members include? How are they used for onboarding new people? Does your organization have a formal orientation procedure in place for all incoming board members?
  • Is your board directly involved in setting fundraising goals and are they actively involved in the fundraising process as required by your nonprofit?
  • How do you train your board members to be effective fundraisers?
  • What are your board’s three greatest strengths and how have these contributed to the overall success of your nonprofit?
  • What are your board’s three most significant weaknesses and how have these held your nonprofit from operating at its optimal level?
  • Does your board culture encourage and welcome open discussion of issues, even when members are not in agreement? Is there a mutual level of respect among all board members?
  • Does your board have an adequate number of well-functioning board committees and/or other workgroups to support your organization’s operations?

Taking this to the next level may include an open discussion among board members about one or more of the questions above. It might be an easy thing to do, but the information gleaned can be invaluable for helping to move your nonprofit board to its next level of greatness.

For information on any of these questions or other ways to evaluate a board of directors, please feel free to contact us.

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