Evaluating your board ensures a constant awareness of how well it is functioning, recognises what’s been achieved and pin points what can be improved, thereby contributing in general to an NPO’s good governance.
Evaluating your board can include:
- Reviewing the past performance of the board as a whole and of individual board members.
- Examining what has changed in the external environment that shapes the work of your NPO and board – for example, are there new risks that threaten the NPO like an economic recession with funding cuts?
- Looking at what can be done to improve the way the board functions and meets. Making future plans based on realistically assessing what has happened in the past.
Ways of doing a board evaluation:
- Ask questions at the end of board meetings to assess the NPO’s progress and the board’s role in this.
- Draw up a detailed questionnaire for board members to assess progress made in organisational governance by the board.
- Ask community members and donors to comment on the NPO’s progress, including the board’s role.
- Budget for and appoint an independent consultant to formally evaluate the board’s governance role, including board development. If you are doing a general evaluation of your NPO, ask the consultant to include board performance as part of the evaluation.
Some questions to guide a board evaluation:
- Do board members understand their roles and responsibilities?
- Do board meetings happen often enough or too often? Are they too long?
- Are board meetings well focused and chaired?
- Do members receive all the information they need to prepare for meetings?
- Do all members prepare for meetings?
- Do board members regularly attend meetings? If not, how is this dealt with?
- How are the executive members of the board performing in their positions?
- Is there a need for fresh faces, energy and leadership on the board?
- Is the board sufficiently focused on NPO governance and oversight?
- Does the board contribute meaningfully to the NPO’s direction, vision and strategy?
- Is enough time spent on helping to raise resources for the NPO?
- Are gaps identified in evaluations followed up and do they lead to meaningful board development and improvements in governance?