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Board Self-Assessment provides a platform for analyzing and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of governance. It allows the board to step back and evaluate its own effectiveness, which will lead to improved governance.

Planning, time and engagement of board members is essential for a successful board evaluation process. The first step in determining the scope is to determine the audience that will receive the assessment. This could include the entire board, specific committees, and/or directors individually. A good plan will identify the evaluation method. Interviews, surveys or facilitated discussions are all common methods. Once the scope and evaluation method are determined, it is time to design and disseminating questionnaires.

Some boards decide to conduct the evaluation internally and some choose to hire a third-party consultant. A third-party consultant will help ensure a thorough and objective analysis, which is particularly important when your board doesn’t have the time or resources to conduct the assessment on their own.

While it is vital for board members to evaluate their own performance, it is equally important for boards of nonprofit organizations to focus on the group as in its entirety. It is easy for nonprofit boards and their evaluation facilitators to get bogged down in assessing individual responses and not take the time to evaluate the board in its entirety.

A successful self-assessment will help boards clarify expectations, reveal gaps in the board composition, align board knowledge with the organization’s strategy, address concerns from investors regarding diversity and turnover and improve board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, public companies report the results of their board’s assessments.