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But Who’s Watching the Board?


by Steve Yoder, Community Development Regional Educator, Purdue Extension 


Community Boards of Directors are tasked with many responsibilities, from creating a mission statement to raising funds in support of that mission. As fiduciaries of an organization, they are stewards of the public trust and must make decisions that are in its best interest.

If an organization is large enough, a board might hire an executive director to run its day-to-day operations. If this is the case, the board is also responsible for evaluating that executive director’s performance.

But who, exactly, evaluates the performance of the board? Who makes sure it is doing a good job? It’s actually the board’s own responsibility to conduct a self-assessment, from time to time, to help it see what it is doing well, and where it could use improvement. According to BoardSource—a leader in board governance training–it is standard best practice for boards to conduct a self-assessment about once every two or three years.

An assessment doesn’t have to be a big production. A board can create a simple, anonymous, online survey where members can rank the board’s effectiveness. For example, they may be asked to give the board a score between 1 and 5 (with 5 being the highest score) in response to statements such as “board members know their responsibilities as board members” or “the board’s bylaws, policies, and procedures are up to date”. Following the online survey, the board can review the results as a group and commit to working on areas that need the most improvement.

When I served as an Executive Director for a non-profit organization, this type of assessment was extremely useful in helping my board better understand its duties and where it needed to focus its efforts. If you are interested in using a board assessment tool to improve your board’s performance, you can find many examples online, or contact me at if you have questions.

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