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Board Self-Assessment gives a framework to analyze and discuss governance strengths and weakness. It’s a way for the board to step back and assess its own effectiveness, which in turn leads to effective governance improvements.

Planning, time and engagement of board members is essential to develop an effective board evaluation process. The first step is to determine the scope of the evaluation. It could be the entire board, specific committees and/or individual directors. A good plan will specify the method of evaluation. Common methods include surveys, interviews, or facilitation of discussions. Once the scope and evaluation methodology are decided, it’s time to begin designing and distributing questionnaires.

Some boards decide to conduct the assessment internally, while others hire an outside consultant. A third-party consultant can ensure a thorough and impartial analysis, which is particularly crucial if your board lacks the time or the resources to conduct the assessment on their own.

While it is vital for board members to assess their own performance, it is equally important for nonprofit boards to focus on the group as in its entirety. It is easy for nonprofit boards and their evaluation facilitators to get bogged down in evaluating individuals’ responses and not take the time to evaluate the board as a whole.

A successful self-assessment can help boards clarify expectations, reveal gaps in the board composition and align the knowledge of the board with organizational strategy, address concerns of investors about turnover and diversity and improve board procedures and practices. A growing number of public companies are disclosing the results of their board’s evaluations in their proxy statements.