A regular process of evaluating the board’s performance can help to identify strengths and weaknesses of its processes and procedures and to provide insights for strengthening orientation and educational programs, the conduct of board and committee meetings, and interactions with board and staff leadership. Many boards will find it helpful to conduct such a self-assessment annually; others may prefer a schedule that coincides with the terms of board service or regular long-range planning cycles. A number of print and online tools, ranging from sample self-assessment questionnaires to more complex evaluation procedures, can help an organization design a board evaluation or self-assessment process that best meets its needs.
The board should establish clear guidelines for the duties and responsibilities of each member, including meeting attendance, preparation and participation; committee assignments; and the kinds of expertise board members are expected to have or develop in order to provide effective
governance. Many boards assign responsibility for oversight of the board evaluation and development function to their executive committees or to a separate board development
committee. Board members with this responsibility should be empowered to discuss problems of attendance or other aspects of board performance with individual members to ascertain whether the problem can be corrected or the individual needs to resign or be removed from the board. Removing a non-performing board member generally requires the action of the full board or, if the organization has members, the action of the membership.
There are no federal or state laws or regulations requiring governing boards of nonprofit organizations to evaluate the performance of the board as a group or as individuals.
The Revised Model Nonprofit Corporation Act stipulates that directors may be removed through
judicial proceedings or by a vote of the board if “a director has engaged in fraudulent or dishonest conduct, or gross abuse of authority or discretion, with respect to the corporation…and removal is in the best interest of the corporation.”1 In judicial proceedings, a court may also stipulate that the director who is removed may be barred from serving on the board for a proscribed period of time.
These questions – from the Principles Workbook (PDF) – are intended to prompt discussion about the principle, assess the polices and practices of your organization, and encourage your organization to take steps to identify where improvements should be made.