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TOOL 5 Review – The Board’s Annual Self-Assessment Survey

By John Pearson

Look in the Mirror!

Peter Drucker wrote, “Self-assessment is the first action requirement of leadership: the constant resharpening, constant refocusing, never really being satisfied.”

Do boards really take this wisdom seriously? According to a ECFA governance survey, board members were asked: “In the last two years, have you had an outside person help your board look in the mirror to do self-assessment for how it could improve?”

  • Good news: 31% said yes!

  • Bad news: 69% did NOT say yes.

There’s a plethora of possibilities in this week’s tool to help your board look in the mirror—to ensure you are constantly improving in God-honoring governance.

TOOL #5: THE BOARD’S ANNUAL SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY

Select the board’s self-assessment survey option that best fits your board’s culture and your board’s aspirations for continual improvement.

Tool #5 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, includes 30 robust pages of survey templates—for all shapes, sizes, and opinions of board members.

The big idea: every board (even the “best” boards) can improve, but if you don’t look in the mirror at least once a year, you’ll easily perpetuate boardroom routines that may no longer be effective.

This resource includes an introduction, “Why Assess?,” and three sections:

  1. Do-It-Yourself (with seven add-water-and-stir evaluation options)

  2. Assessments Facilitated by a Consultant or Board Coach

  3. An assessment template: “Best Governance Practices” Survey

For a quick dip into the self-assessment pool, consider ECFA’s new board self-assessment, NonprofitBoardScore™. This free online survey delivers immediate feedback and is designed for board members to complete multiple times (perhaps every six months) to measure improvement. (Church board members can self-assess using ChurchBoardScore™.)

D-I-Y Option 5 (page 40) features a quick one-page 20-point board member self-assessment that asks board members to evaluate the board on a five-point scale from “Strongly Disagree (1)” to “Strongly Agree (5).” Questions include:

  • Our board ensures that the ministry has an active strategic planning process in place.

  • Our board annually affirms and “owns” the ministry strategy.

  • We expect every board member to be an annual giver.

  • Our board has policies—and the spiritual integrity required—to ask an underperforming board member to resign.

  • Our board approves the CEO’s annual measurable goals that align with the strategy.

The survey also lists the average scores of 1,754 board members who completed the ECFA survey in 2019—so you can compare your ratings with other board members.

Why look in the self-assessment mirror? Peter Drucker adds, “Self-assessment can and should convert good intentions and knowledge into effective action—not next year but tomorrow morning.”

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: What committee or board member is tasked with conducting the board’s annual self-assessment?

MORE RESOURCES: Share this one-question discussion starter at your next meeting: “You’re driving away from a typical board meeting and you say, ‘That was a great board meeting today!’ Tell me, what happened at the board meeting to provoke that response?” Read more in “Ask the Gold Standard Question,” Lesson 2, in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Click here to read Tim McDermott’s color commentary.

 

This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

 


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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