Nonprofit Governance

Nonprofit Governance 2018-07-09T21:05:00+00:00

Board Best Practices Assessment

Nonprofit Board Trends

BoardSource’s “Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices,” contains a variety of interesting data and conclusions with implications for nonprofit boards of directors, based on surveying nearly 1,800 nonprofit CEOs and board chairs. Among the top three trends cited in the conclusions, Strategic Planning is recognized as one of the top three. Moreover, when asked about factors impacting organization performance, “Board adaptability in the face of environmental change” was cited in the top three factors, suggesting the need to watch changing circumstances, trends, social and competitive developments (which we address in the Strategic Thinking section of our Strategic Planning services).

Here’s some interested data on organization performance from the above Board Source survey. It found that nonprofit boards that assess their own performance regularly report stronger agency performance.

Interestingly, as a parallel to these data, when the Texas Education Agency assessed school board training and student evaluations, there was a strong correlation between board training and student performance.

Board Governance Self-Assessment

Following development and board approval of a strategic plan, our clients have often found it helpful for us to conduct a Board Governance Self-Assessment. This is an online survey to help board members assess their board’s performance and prioritize areas for improvement.

In each of three key sections, board members are asked to individually and anonymously compete an online survey to assess their board’s activities versus best practices in each governance category:

Section 1:  Determine Strategic Direction

  • Strategic planning
    • Portfolio of programs
    • Organizational alignment
    • Legal compliance and public disclosure

Section 2:  Secure Sustainable Resources

  • Human resources
    • Financial resources
    • Financial oversight
    • Responsible fundraising

Section 3:  Provide Governance and Operational Oversight

  • Governance
    • Leadership
    • Marketing and public relations
    • Information technology and knowledge management

Then the survey asks: What are the top 2 or 3 things the board should focus on in the next year or two?


Individual, anonymous board member completion of the self-assessment and presentation of summary results at a board meeting can produce significant benefits:

  • Effectively communicates best governance practices to board members
  • Discussion can gain alignment on board priorities for the next couple of years
  • Helps identity board roles in implementing the strategic plan, in addition to what the agency staff is delivering

Improving your board’s performance can help improve your organization’s performance.