At the Society for Nonprofits, Fisher Howe provides a checklist for nonprofit board member performance. Because nonprofits are supported by public funding, their board members are ultimately responsible to the public trust. More specifically, board members must establish the principles and policies for the organization, provide oversight to the organization’s executives and employees, and are answerable for all that the organization does, and how it does it.
Howe highlights five performance responsibilities for which the board has fiduciary responsibility. They include:
- The mission, including purposes, programs, priorities, and vision.
- Selecting and regularly evaluating the chief executive.
- Finances, including review and approval of the budget, oversight of the independent audit, and oversight of investments.
- Program oversight and support.
- Work with staff to identify, cultivate, and solicit financial support.
In his article Howe also provides a 25 point checklist that can be used to evaluate board member performance. Click here to read more about nonprofit board member performance and to access the performance checklist.
Give yourself a score from 0 (low) to 5 (high) for each of the following questions to see how well your board performs.
____ 1. Does your board assume responsibility for the organization’s mission?
____ 2. Does your board hold periodic strategic planning to review the organization’s purposes, programs, priorities, and vision for the future?
____ 3. Does the board select, compensate, and regularly evaluate the chief executive?
____ 4. Does the board approve and oversee adherence to the organization’s budget?
____ 5. Does the board take full responsibility for arranging and overseeing an annual audit?
____ 6. Does the board take full responsibility for investing the organization’s funds?
____ 7. Does the board oversee and evaluate (but not manage) the organization’s programs?
____ 8. Does the board support the organization’s staff?
____ 9. Are board members advocates for the organization in the community?
____ 10. Do board members partner with staff in raising funds for the organization?
____ 11. Do board members attend all board meetings and participate actively in committees?
____ 12. Do board members contribute personally to the organization at least once a year?
____ 13. Do board members constantly review the board’s composition, including size, tenure of members, and rotation?
____ 14. Do staff and board leaders work productively together?
____ 15. Do board members continually recruit new members?
____ 16. Is the board diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, and other factors?
____ 17. Does the board contain people with all the required skills, such as fundraising, finances, and marketing?
____ 18. Are new board members given a rigorous orientation before attending their first meeting?
____ 19. Does the board’s committee structure work well?
____ 20. Are board officers’ terms and selection process effective?
____ 21. Are board meetings held often enough to be productive?
____ 22. Do board members receive an agenda in plenty of time to review it before a board meeting?
____ 23. Do board members always fully disclose and try to avoid conflicts of interest?
____ 24. Does the organization’s fundraising conform to approved practices?
____ 25. Are the organization’s annual report and Form 990 available to the public?