One of our recommended best practices for nonprofits and ministries is to conduct a board evaluation on a regular basis, at least once every two years. And, while the board as a whole may be doing a great job, it is also helpful to have board members evaluate themselves. In other words, an honest self-assessment.
I know that for many, the whole idea of self-assessing is scary. It can be really difficult to be completely honest about ourselves and how we are performing. Quite honestly, we can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but when we sit with ourselves and look deeply, we recognize that we can’t fool ourselves.
As you think about your individual board performance, answer these questions.
- Can you recite the mission of the organization?
- Do you know your responsibilities as a board member?
- What is the primary reason you serve on the board of directors?
- Are you an active member on one or more committees?
- Do you contribute financially to the organization?
- Would you be willing to do more to support the organization if you were asked to?
- Do you attend board meetings regularly?
- Do you prepare in advance for board meetings by reading minutes, reviewing financials and the agenda for the meeting?
- If you miss a meeting, do you follow-up with someone else on the board to find out what you missed?
- Do you understand the difference between the responsibilities of staff and the responsibilities of board members?
- Do you strengthen and support the mission of the organization with your time, skills and financial support?
- Do you make decisions objectively always remembering to decide based on what is in the best interest of the organization?
It is particularly helpful to have all board members assess themselves and then have a board member compile the results and share them with the rest of the board. This information then gives the board an understanding of where board members are and an understanding of how to strengthen the organization beginning with individual board members. In many cases, board members are passionate about the mission of the organization, but are unaware of their roles and responsibilities and how they can best serve.
One of the key functions of the board of directors is to support the mission of the organization. Assessing their individual performance on the board will demonstrate to themselves and the rest of the board how well they are performing this function.