How to Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Board Self-Assessment offers a means for analyzing and discussing governance strengths and weakness. It’s a way for the board to step back and examine its own effectiveness, which results in effective governance improvements.

The development of a successful board assessment process requires planning time, as well as participation of board members. The first step in determining the scope of the evaluation is to determine who will be the target audience for the assessment. This could include the entire board, specific committees and/or individual directors. A solid plan will determine the evaluation method. Common methods include surveys, interviews or facilitated discussions. Once the scope and method of evaluation are determined, it is time to begin designing and disseminating questionnaires.

Some boards opt to conduct the assessment internally while others employ an outside consultant. A third party consultant can ensure a thorough and impartial analysis, which is especially important if your board does not have the time or the resources to conduct the evaluation on their own.

It is vital that board members assess themselves. However it is also crucial that nonprofit boards focus on the group. It is easy for nonprofit board members and their facilitators to become distracted by evaluating individual responses and neglect the board as a unit.

A successful self-assessment helps boards clarify expectations, reveal deficiencies in the composition of the board, align board knowledge with the organization’s strategy, address concerns of investors regarding diversity and turnover and enhance board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, public companies report the results of their boards’ evaluations.

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