A Look in the Mirror at Board Effectiveness

The overriding responsibility of every member of every board of directors is oversight – to continually monitor and assess the effectiveness of  the organization they serve.

But when was the last time your board took a look in the mirror at it’s own effectiveness?

Even the most effective boards can lose their “edge” over time, especially volunteer boards whose membership and leadership changes each year.  Many nonprofit boards have adopted the best practice of performing an annual self-assessment.  The self-assessment process can be very difficult, especially if there has not been a consistent pattern of evaluating the board’s performance in the past.

Consider the following items, as you develop a self-assessment checklist. Does the board…

  1. Periodically align the organization’s activities with the organization’s mission (based on Form 1023’s exempt purpose – approved by the IRS in the determination letter)?
  2. Actively participate in fundraising? Describe how every member participates? Monetarily and nonmonetarily?
  3. Support/evaluate the chief operating officer? Describe.
  4. Communicate strategically and effectively with each other? Describe candid discussion policies.
  5. Determine how each member represents the organization? Who communicates what to the public? How often is the mission and accomplishments communicated to the public?
  6. Annually review compliance with laws and regulations affecting the tax-exempt organization?
  7. Have a short and long-term financial strategy?
  8. Explain how financial statements and other financial data are used to monitor operating results of organization.

This is a short list of potential considerations. You might consider reviewing BoardSource’s governance series to determine your board’s effectiveness and governance responsibilities. You might also consider having specialists provide other considerations as you develop a personalized assessment. Good luck.

Posted by Jay Shellum

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