February 16, 2022

5 Resources for Nonprofit CEO Performance Appraisals

In the last year, have you had a performance appraisal? Even before the pandemic, many, if not most, nonprofit CEOs and executive directors had not. (45 percent, Daring to Lead, 75 percent Social Impact Architecture.)

You may feel you’re better off without an evaluation because CEO assessments can create wounds, discouragement, and exit plans when done poorly.

Yet, when done well, performance appraisals create hope, organizational learning, aligned expectations, and personal growth.

Below are five resources (generated for a recent CEO Conversation) to help spur your board to provide a CEO/executive director performance appraisal. You’ll find the resources divided into two categories:
tools, such as an evaluation form and
the process, that is, steps to take to complete an evaluation.


1. Blue Avocado: Executive Director Evaluation Form—a 2011 article with a good overview and form. Strengths: The form educates users about the executive director’s role. For example, you rank: “Appropriately provides both support and leadership to the board.” Cons: The tool’s extensive and, at first glance, looks overwhelming.

2. Nonprofit CEO Evaluations: 5 Best Practices for Your Team—a 2019 post that includes evaluation questions. Its value is the best practice list. You can find most of the other content elsewhere. Strengths: The performance appraisal best practices list. Cons: The distracting pop-ups.

3. Compensation Data Reports—the leading HR association, SHRM, teamed up with Salary.com to provide salary data. You can buy an individual report for $245 and customize it by geographic location and budget size. Strength: Buying third-party salary information takes the job off your board’s to-do list, and the data may help you get a raise. Cons: It’s not free, and sales staff follow up a lot!

The Process

4. Evaluating the Executive Directors: Your Role as a Board Member–-this is a three-page booklet that shares a ten-step performance appraisal process. Strengths: It outlines an ideal approach from soup to nuts. It offers an exemplary ongoing process to monitoring organizational and executive performance at every meeting. Cons: You’ll probably need to simplify the process to reflect your time constraints.

5. A Simple Way to Conduct an Executive Director Performance Review—my favorite resource. Joan Garry writes this post to board members. The tone is practical, friendly, and occasionally humorous. Garry offers a ten-step process to get down to work and not make a hash out of the executive leader’s performance evaluation. Strengths: If you provide this tool, you will be able to find a board member or two to lead this effort. Cons: To review Joan’s accompanying evaluation tool, you’ll surrender your email.

Share these tools with your board chair to empower them to evaluate your performance.

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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