Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How's Your Board Doing?

The first step to an effective nonprofit Board of Directors is to clearly define and communicate the board's roles and responsibilities. And the next step? You need to put in place a process for doing an annual assessment of the board's work.

A board assessment - much like an employee performance review - is a terrific opportunity to engage board members in a frank discussion about what's working and what needs improvement. Here are some questions you should be asking:
  • Mission and programs: Do your board members know your mission statement by heart? Does your mission statement accurately reflect your current organizational goals? Are your programs consistent with your mission?
  • Board composition: Do you have a full board? Does your board reflect your constituency? Is your board diverse - in regard to gender, demographics, expertise, community connections, age? Do you have policies in place about board recruitment and attendance?
  • Board orientation and training: Is there are a board job description in place? Do you have an orientation procedure and packet of key documents for new board members? Are board trainings and retreats scheduled that are appropriate and constructive?
  • Structure and meetings: Is the size of the board appropriate for providing the resources needed to govern your organization? Are your board meetings constructive? Are they fun? Do they start and end on time? Do your committees actually meet regularly and do the work that needs doing? Is there a good working relationship between the board the Executive Director?
  • Governance and finances: Do you have a Policy and Procedures Manual? Do you review and update it annually? Do board members regularly review financial statements? Do they really truly understand the numbers they are looking at?
  • Community Relations & Outreach: Do your board members serve effectively as advocates in promoting your work? Is your messaging throughout all forms of media - from printed brochures to your website to social media - consistent with your mission?
  • Fundraising: Has everyone on the board made a significant (for them) annual contribution? Do board members actively participate in making connections, soliciting contributions, developing and implementing annual fundraising plans, and participating in important annual events?
You should use your annual assessment to motivate, energize and revitalize the board. Honestly address shortcomings - but don't forge to celebrate achievements. Be sure to take time to define priorities and goals.

And your final step? Take the information and feedback you've gotten and develop a detailed one-year action plan that defines what needs to be done, how you're going to do it, who is responsible, and when it's going to be accomplished.