Board Room: Assess your board of directors for future success

Nonprofit board assessment will provide a better understanding of board and committee performance responsibilities and priorities for board activities going forward.

A board assessment is designed to identify the areas of strong board performance and areas that need development, identify priority areas for the board to focus on over the next 1 or 2 years and to permit different views to emerge.

The Maine Association of Nonprofits summed up the critical importance of performing regular self-assessments for boards:

“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.”

According to a recent Board Source Nonprofit Governance Index, 58 percent of chief executives and 56 percent of board members think their boards are well informed about their responsibilities. Boards of large organizations (71 percent) and foundations (68 percent) tend to be better informed of these duties. Boards that are better informed are also described as more engaged and more effective.

Thirty percent of boards have assessed their own performance within the last 12 months, another 20 percent within the last one to three years, and 10 percent more than three years ago. Of the boards that did a formal evaluation in the last three years, 66 percent were rated as “very effective” by their chief executives. Of the 33 percent of boards that have never done a formal board evaluation, 58 percent were rated “ineffective.”

We have found many board members do not have a clear grasp on their responsibilities and fiduciary obligation. It is the responsibility of the board and staff to make sure a good orientation is performed with updates at board meetings. Good governance, although being practiced more effectively now than in the past, still has a ways to go. Stronger governance has been accomplished due to the new IRS 990 put in place requiring board members be accountable for oversight however board members need guidance, especially new board members. As a board member you must remember you were asked to join the board because of your unique skills and passion for the cause – share your skills as much as you do your passion.

Through an effective board assessment, board governance practices are reinforced and the spirit of a strong culture of accountability and transparency is realized. Please call us for assistance in performing a Board Assessment with your Board. References will be provided.

Contact us for a free consultation or for assistance in conducting your own Board Assessment >>

By Jeanne Reaves
At Jeanne Reaves Consulting, Jeanne specializes in coaching executives in a variety of industries. As a certified Personality Consultant, Jeanne employs technology and techniques to help her clients understand their executive teams’ unique abilities, maximize their productivity and manage them more effectively to enhance earnings.