Non-profit Board of Directors Self-Assessment Survey

The following is from the Board Café, a discussion forum and newsletter for Directors of non-profit organizations, but the self-assessment itself is more widely applicable for Directors of any organization.

At a regular physical check-up, the doctor may begin by
asking 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
still 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 a useful indicator, if not an
error-proof test. An annual poll of board members lets
the board get a sense of how its members feel. 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 Not Confident and 5 being Very
Confident. 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


Please rate your assessment of the Board of Directors’
performance on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 = Not At All
Confident, and 5 – Very Confident.

How confident are you that as an effective governing body,
the board:

  1. Monitors and evaluates the performance of the executive
    director on a regular basis?
  2. Ensures legal compliance with federal, state, and local
  3. Ensures that government contract obligations are
  4. Monitors financial performance and projections on a
    regular basis?
  5. Has a strategic vision for the organization?
  6. Has adopted an income strategy (that combines
    contributions, earned income and other revenue) to ensure
    adequate resources?
  7. Has a clear policy on the responsibilities of board
    members in fundraising?
  8. Has adopted a conflict of interest policy that is
    discussed regularly?
  9. Currently contains an appropriate range of expertise
    and diversity to make it an effective governing body?
  10. Regularly assesses its own work?

How confident are you that most or all board members:

  1. Understand the mission and purpose of the
  2. Are adequately knowledgeable about the organization’s
  3. Act as ambassadors to the community on behalf of the
    organization and its constituencies?
  4. Follow through on commitments they have made as board
  5. Understand the role that volunteers play in the
  6. Understand the respective roles of the board and
  7. Are appropriately involved in board activities?

Please comment:

  • What information-whether about the organization, the
    field (such as immigration), nonprofit management or
    nonprofit boards-would you like to get to help you be a
    better board member?
  • When you joined the board, did you have ideas on how
    you would help the organization that haven’t happened? If
    so, what ideas?
  • What suggestions/questions do you have for the board
    chair or the executive director about the board, your own
    role, or any other aspect of the organization?
  • Would you like the board chair to contact you about
    getting together?
  • Would you like the executive director to contact you
    about getting together?

This article is from the book Best of the Board Cafe, a compilation
of the best Board Cafe articles, a CompassPoint-Wilder
Book. To learn more about the Board Cafe, please visit their Web site.

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