April 28, 2024

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 board of directors prefer short meetings. And it’s tricky to squeeze time in for the board to evaluate their performance.

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 board members 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 check in with each member then.

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? 


Click The Best Free Board Assessment Tools for more about board assessment and three additional free tools.

You can keep up with me. Subscribe to my newsletter, Karen’s CEO Solutions. 

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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