The Board Evaluation: Upping Your Game

board development and revitalization impact roles and responsibilities Dec 12, 2023
The Board Evaluation: Upping Your Game


Do your criteria for the annual board review need to be renewed and refreshed? Is it the same old, same old? Do the results drive an improvement plan? How can you raise the stakes? Who does the work?

We know that Board evaluation is a key component of effective governance, but not all boards engage in a regular year-end review.

We assess our performance because we want to get better. We want to have an open and honest discussion of our strengths and areas for improvement. We want to model to the senior staff our commitment to the mission and to continual improvement.

The Governance Committee will lead the process with clear and written criteria – best practices, implementation of strategic plans and work plans, board behaviours and culture, and board member agreements.

But maybe it’s time to go a bit further – both to broaden the scope of the annual review and to spark discussion about how to make a better and bigger impact.


Forces for Good, which we have recommended previously, offers a few suggestions for your consideration, each based in best practices.


For example:

  • My organization embraces a network mind-set, working collaboratively with other groups to advance the larger cause.
  • My organization shares knowledge, cultivates field-wide leadership, and develops collective resources within our network or field.
  • My organization deliberately develops emerging leaders within the organization and also within our larger network.
  • My organization advocates for policy reform, in addition to providing direct services.
  • My organization effectively combines service and advocacy, drawing on direct service programs to inform advocacy agendas, and vice versa.

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  • My organization evaluates what works using practical tools designed to track outcomes, not just outputs.
  • My organization can effectively launch new programs and also terminate programs that don’t produce sufficient results.
  • My organization changes the way local, national, or global businesses fundamentally operate.
  • My organization builds effective, win-win alliances with companies.
  • My organization is funded in part by revenue generated from sales of products or services.
  • My organizations executive director effectively shares power and decision making with the senior team and board of directors.
  • My organization creates meaningful, emotional experiences for volunteers.
  • My organization deliberately cultivates high-profile evangelists.


Of course, the criteria you select and use must be ones with which the board agrees. Evaluations or assessments should be simple, straightforward and likely done during a meeting so you are sure that they are completed. They should also result in a work plan for improvement. At the Board level, this would likely be done by the Governance Committee, which would compile the results for Board review and develop an improvement plan for Board approval.


Our mission is too important to allow the Board and its members to think that they are above review and improvement. We can all get better, and we must.


What are your main “pain points” dealing with board evaluations?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.




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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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