Are We Doing a Good Job?
by Jan Masaoka
At a regular physical check-up, the doctor may ask 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 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 an important indicator, if not an error-proof test. We suggest an annual poll of board members to get a sense of how the board is doing. 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 Very Unsatisfied and 5 being Very Satisfied. 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 activities.
HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU THAT THE BOARD . . .
- Understands and can convey the organization's mission and purpose?
- Is confident that the organization is in compliance with federal, state and local regulations?
- Has procedures that report that government contract obligations are fulfilled?
- Has a strategic vision for the organization?
- Knows enough about the organization's programs and services?
- Monitors and evaluates the performance of the executive director on a regular basis?
- Provides financial oversight for the organization, including approving a realistic budget?
- Monitors financial performance and projections on a regular basis?
- Has adopted a fundraising strategy and reflects on its successes?
- Has a clear policy on the responsibilities of board members in fundraising?
- Acts as ambassadors to the community on behalf of the organization and its clients/patrons?
- Understands the role that volunteers play in the organization and the organization's philosophy of volunteer management?
- Appreciates the respective roles of the board and staff?
- Currently contains an appropriate range of expertise and diversity to make it an effective governing body?
- Effectively involves board members in board activities and responsibilities?
- Periodically assesses our own performance as a board?
A related article from the Board Café on "360 Degree Evaluation of the Agency" can be found on our website-www.boardcafe.org under "Board Meetings, Board Packets, Tools", or go directly to the article.
For a more comprehensive board self-assessment, the National Center for Nonprofit Boards publishes the "Self Assessment for Nonprofit Governing Boards Kit," which includes a user's guide and fifteen 20-page questionnaires, $169.00 for non-members and $126.75 for members; available at 1-800-883-6262 or http://www.ncnb.org.
Original publication date: 5/18/2000
© 2000 CompassPoint Nonprofit Services/National Center for Nonprofit Boards