The following is from the Board Café, a discussion forum and newsletter for Directors of non-profit organizations, but the self-assessment itself is more widely applicable for Directors of any organization.
At a regular physical check-up, the doctor may begin by
asking the patient, “How are you feeling?” The answer is
important. Although some patients may feel well but have a
hidden disease, the patient’s own sense of well being is
still an important indicator. In a similar way, when a
board asks itself, “How do we feel about our board and our
organization?” the answer is a useful indicator, if not an
error-proof test. An annual poll of board members lets
the board get a sense of how its members feel. There are
many such surveys, but here’s a short one you can try.
Give board members a scale to choose from for each answer,
such as 1 – 5, with 1 being Not Confident and 5 being Very
Confident. You might also ask your executive director (and
other staff who frequently work with the board) to fill
out a similar survey, and then use the results of both to
kick off a discussion where people reflect on the survey
results and establish objectives for the year about board
BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY
Please rate your assessment of the Board of Directors’
performance on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 = Not At All
Confident, and 5 – Very Confident.
How confident are you that as an effective governing body,
- Monitors and evaluates the performance of the executive
director on a regular basis?
- Ensures legal compliance with federal, state, and local
- Ensures that government contract obligations are
- Monitors financial performance and projections on a
- Has a strategic vision for the organization?
- Has adopted an income strategy (that combines
contributions, earned income and other revenue) to ensure
- Has a clear policy on the responsibilities of board
members in fundraising?
- Has adopted a conflict of interest policy that is
- Currently contains an appropriate range of expertise
and diversity to make it an effective governing body?
- Regularly assesses its own work?
How confident are you that most or all board members:
- Understand the mission and purpose of the
- Are adequately knowledgeable about the organization’s
- Act as ambassadors to the community on behalf of the
organization and its constituencies?
- Follow through on commitments they have made as board
- Understand the role that volunteers play in the
- Understand the respective roles of the board and
- Are appropriately involved in board activities?
- What information-whether about the organization, the
field (such as immigration), nonprofit management or
nonprofit boards-would you like to get to help you be a
better board member?
- When you joined the board, did you have ideas on how
you would help the organization that haven’t happened? If
so, what ideas?
- What suggestions/questions do you have for the board
chair or the executive director about the board, your own
role, or any other aspect of the organization?
- Would you like the board chair to contact you about
- Would you like the executive director to contact you
about getting together?