Your 5-Minute Nonprofit Board Evaluation

What Makes a Great Board Member: Gives generously, shouts out staff, does homework, attends events, helps fundraise, sees the big picture, avoids micromanaging, acts as your ambassador, listens more than talks

Let’s face it, you and your #boardofdirectors prefer short meetings. And squeezing time in for the board to evaluate their performance is tricky.

Yet, evaluation is how groups get better. Reviews increase accountability, so getting some board evaluation on the agenda is essential.

Here’s a tool that solves the dilemma and gives you a baseline measure of your board’s strengths in five minutes. (Or longer! See optional questions below. Add 15-30 minutes.)

How Do You Use the Tool?

1. Handout (or post if you’re virtual) What Makes a Great Board Member?

2. Ask your #boardmembers to rank the board as a whole on each item from one to five, with five being low. Therefore, since there are nine traits, the most incredible board on the planet scores a 45.

3. Invite individuals to share where they scored the board’s highest. (Critical: Focus on your board’s strengths, not shortcomings.) What’s going well?

4. Ask the members to write their total scores on an index card and collect them (or privately send them to the board chair in chat.) Total these and divide by the number of members to find your baseline.

5. (Optional) Invite the group to share what would make the board even better. List the response. Follow up with a question about how the group wants to get there. Invite the members to pick one area to work on in the next six months and retest.

6. Thank your board for all it does.

Here’s a Secret

Is this perfect? Heck no, but it gets the job done. It also reminds your board of directors of their commitments, celebrates what’s working, and engages your members in thinking about how they work together.

When will you do your next board evaluation? 


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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis Consulting guides executive directors and CEOs to generate the resources, boards, and support they need to make remarkable progress on their missions. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps nonprofit leaders get answers, generate revenue, and grow their mission. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality based on her work with or visits to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations and her experience leading board and team events. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.