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How to Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Board Self-Assessment provides a platform to analyze and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of governance. It’s a method for the board to take a step back and examine its own effectiveness, which in turn can lead to improvements in governance.

Time and planning, as well as the engagement of board members is essential for a successful board evaluation process. The first step is determining the scope of the assessment. It could encompass the entire board, committees or directors individually. A good plan will identify the evaluation method. Common sites methods include surveys, interviews or facilitation of discussions. Once the scope and evaluation method are established, it’s time to start designing and disseminating questionnaires.

Some boards decide to conduct the assessment in-house, while others hire an outside consultant. A third party consultant can ensure a thorough and impartial analysis, which is particularly crucial when your board lacks the time or resources to conduct the evaluation on their own.

While it is vital for board members to review their own performance, it is equally important for boards of nonprofit organizations to focus on the group as in its entirety. It is easy for nonprofit board members and their facilitators to become focused on evaluating individual actions and not pay attention to the board as a group.

A successful self-assessment is able to help boards clarify expectations, reveal gaps in the composition of the board and align knowledge of the board with organizational strategy, address concerns from investors regarding diversity and turnover and improve the effectiveness of board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, public companies publish the results of their board’s evaluations.

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