Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why is Board Self-Assessment So Important?

The past two years have been far from the norm and have required nonprofit boards to step up and take their roles even more seriously than they have in the past. As you begin this new year, it is the perfect opportunity to provide your board members with the opportunity to reflect on key roles, provide candid feedback on what is working, and offer ideas to further strengthen your work. Regular Board Self-Assessment is considered a “best practice” for increasing the engagement and effectiveness of your board.

Here are four good reasons to integrate an assessment debrief into an upcoming board meeting, working session, or retreat:

Education – It is critical for boards to regularly review and discuss their roles and responsibilities. An assessment creates an opportunity to move from textbook theory to application. It is easy to get caught up in one or two roles and lose perspective on the bigger picture.

Engagement – An assessment requests input from all board members and then engages the full board in discussing the results and defining actions to be taken.

Reflection, Evaluation, and Perception – Ah… the unexamined life. Do we all view our work the same way? How are we doing? Step back from the routine reports and activities to explore how we can work smarter and leverage our efforts in support of our mission.

Prioritization – What should we be focusing on? Beware of assessment tools that merely ask you to rate everything and then produce a long list of problem areas. You need to know where you are already strong, what areas are most important in the next few years, and which areas are worth investing your scarce time and resources.


The Charitable Advisors on-line assessment is adapted from a framework developed and placed in the public domain by the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company that identifies nine critical roles of the board. It helps prioritize efforts and solicits input on committee work and board member commitment. The cost is only $325 for the on-line assessment and summary report in PowerPoint. In Central Indiana, Bryan can also provide a 1 ½ - 2 hour on-site board training and debrief, including the cost of the On-line Self-Assessment, for $750.

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