Many nonprofit boards have performance issues. Some are under pressure to improve due to legal scrutiny, while others want to boost their worth in the views of donors or in the community, and others must address specific issues of governance. Regardless of the pressure it is a good idea that every board pursue some form of board assessment. However, a performance appraisal is a daunting undertaking, especially if the process is not something that the board has experienced before. Fortunately the proper guidance and tools can assist any board to overcome its challenges and achieve success.
The first step is to determine the problem. The most common problems are that the board acts too much as an “rubber stamp” for management decisions or becomes involved in operational details that should be left to the CEO and management team. The board might also be unsure of their legal obligations and the best way to protect themselves.
In these situations, the board must define and clarify its role and also establish clear lines of communication web between the board and the management team. The board must also make sure that it has structures that can be used to carry out its tasks. This could include committees and officer positions that are responsible for gathering and analyzing information about the performance of the board. It is also important to follow up on any agreed actions that result from a board evaluation. Otherwise, the momentum created by the evaluation process can dissipate.