How to Assess Board Performance — Part Three

Measuring performance is essential for achieving desired results and maintaining organizational health. Over the past two weeks, we’ve outlined the importance of board self-assessment (BSA), the first two elements of the BoardSource BSA, and how to utilize the BSA to measure performance in your organization.

Today’s column will explore the third section of the BoardSource BSA: the work.

The work section includes:

  • Mission, vision, and strategic direction
  • Funding and public image
  • Program oversight
  • Financial oversight
  • Chief executive supervision and oversight

This section of the BSA is designed to assess how well the board knows its responsibilities.

Mission, Vision, and Strategic Direction

We have written extensively on mission, vision, and strategic direction.

Getting clear on mission, vision, and values is essential, as it then enables the board to set the strategic direction of the organization.

The BSA questions encourage the board to reflect on mission, vision, and values. It asks whether the statements are relevant, if they get to the heart of the organization’s purpose, and if they are used to make decisions.

The BSA also pushes the board to consider how the needs of stakeholders are met, how responsive the organization has been to those dynamics, and if the organization is tracking progress against goals. While staff plays a big role in executing a strategic plan, creating that plan and clarifying direction is a primary role of the board.

Funding and Public Image

Nonprofits need resources to meet community needs, and boards need to ensure that a constructive partnership exists with the chief executive and senior staff so there is a shared responsibility with resource development that is aligned with strategy.

BSA questions invite board members to consider their role in fundraising and donor engagement, their ability to hold fellow board members accountable, and their personal philanthropy. This portion also focuses on the overall organizational revenue mix, the advocacy efforts needed in terms of public support, and the board’s overall role as ambassadors for the organization.

Program Oversight

The board’s involvement in programming can be a surprise for some because it is not the board’s role to get into the weeds of daily organizational and program operations. However, this portion of the BSA is all about oversight. How does a board know if the organization is fulfilling its mission if the board does not have access to programmatic outcomes and data?

The questions ask whether board members understand the programs and how they relate to mission, what measures are used to assess performance, and how well the board delegates operations to the chief executive. Having a board dashboard that highlights key performance indicators (KPIs) is a powerful tool to use.

Financial Oversight

This portion typically scores very high as most boards feel good about their financial oversight abilities and practices. The questions in this portion ask about the basics to ensure that the board is engaged in the annual budgeting process and that financial reports are regularly reviewed. It also asks about policies, risk management, insurance, and compliance. It’s not enough to just review the monthly P&L — it is essential that the full board (not just the finance committee) reviews the results of the audit and deeply understands the organization’s financial profile.

Next week, we’ll review the final section on the impact.

Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO

2022-04-21T19:52:50+00:00April 21st, 2022|