Many nonprofit boards face issues with their performance. Some are under pressure to improve their performance due to legal scrutiny, some want to improve their standing in the views of donors or in the community, and other boards must address specific issues of board governance. Regardless of the pressure it is a good idea for every board to conduct an evaluation of its board. But, a performance review can be a daunting endeavor especially if the process is a new one for the board. Fortunately the right guidance and tools can assist any board to overcome the obstacles and reach success.

The first step is to identify the problem. The most frequently encountered issues are that the board acts too much as a “rubber stamp” for decisions made by management or becomes involved in operational issues that should be left to the CEO and management team. The board may be confused about their legal obligations as well as how to safeguard themselves.

In these situations, the board must define and clarify its role and establish clear lines of communication between the board and management team. The board must also have structures in place that will allow it to perform its obligations. This may include committees or officer positions whose main responsibilities are to collect and analyze information about board performance. It is also important to follow-up on any actions agreed upon that result from an evaluation. Otherwise, the momentum that was created during the evaluation process may fade away.

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