Nonprofit Board Performance Problems and How to Overcome Them

Many nonprofit boards are facing performance issues. Some boards are under legal scrutiny and need to improve. Others want to improve their value to donors or the community. There are others who require specific board governance issues. However, regardless of the pressure the best practice is for every board to pursue some form of board evaluation. However, a performance assessment is a daunting undertaking especially if the procedure is not something that the board has experienced before. The right tools and guidelines can help any board overcome hurdles and be successful.

The first step is to determine the issue. The most common problems are that the board serves too much as a «rubber stamp» for management decisions or gets involved in operational decisions which should be left to the CEO and management team. The board might also be confused about their legal obligations and the best way to safeguard themselves.

In these situations, the board must define and clarify its mission and provide clear lines of communication between the board and the management team. The board must also ensure that it has the right structures in place to carry out its obligations. This may include committees and officer positions that are responsible for collecting and analyzing data about the performance of the board. Finally, it is important that any agreed-upon actions resulting of a board’s assessment are acted upon and regularly monitored. Otherwise, the momentum that was created during the evaluation process could fade.

examples of organizational assessments

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