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Why board evaluation makes a difference

As a member of the board or management committee of a nonprofit organisation you are in a unique position to influence your organisation's performance.

While there are obviously other factors affecting organisational performance, particularly senior management, staff and volunteers, the board is able to consider and influence all these issues.

A reflexive board has to give high priority to its own development and maintenance. Boards that reflect on their practices and processes in a meaningful way are in a better position to aid overall organisational performance — they can learn from past experience and look to their future development.

The Developing Your Board surveys have been revised. The new (shorter) DYB board evaluation surveys are available now.

Get started on evaluating your nonprofit board or management committee using the free DYB online board evaluation.

How do we measure board effectiveness?

Determining appropriate measures of effectiveness for nonprofit organisations is difficult.

Evaluating the effectiveness of a nonprofit board can be even more problematic.

Nonprofit governance is different in a number of respects from 'for-profit' governance. For example —

  • Nonprofit organisations are 'mission' driven, not 'profit' driven. There is no one way to measure achievement of mission.
  • Nonprofit organisations often have multiple stakeholders who are all critically important to the organisation, often with conflicting primary interests
  • Many nonprofit organisations are small in size, but subject to accountability standards drawn from regimes involving large 'for profit' organisations
  • Nonprofit boards / management committees are generally voluntary
  • Nonprofit boards / management committees, like their organisations, are generally under-resourced.

In addition, government funders and regulators may prescribe quality standards for nonprofit boards in receipt of government funding. 

Useful Web resources
  • Gavin Nicholson, Cameron Newton, & Myles McGregor-Lowndes, (2012) 'The nonprofit board as a team : pilot results and initial insights', Nonprofit Management and Leadership, vol 22 no. 4, pp. 383-528, via QUT e-prints
  • Herman and Renz (2002) Nonprofit organizational effectiveness: practical implications of research on an elusive concept, published by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership (U.S.) - Herman and Renz are highly regarded researchers in this field. This is about organisational effectiveness, but includes discussion about how the board may affect this.
  • Good Governance Guide from Governance Matters - includes indicators for board effectiveness, board operations, strategic planning and other elements of board and organisational functioning
  • Conscious Governance video clips on board development – devised as "thought starters" for Board development sessions, and for Board induction.
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