Board Self-Assessment is an essential function of the board, and provides an excellent platform for analyzing and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of governance. It is a way for the board to take a step back and examine its own effectiveness, which in turn will lead to improved governance.

The development of a successful board assessment process requires planning, time and involvement of the board members. The first step in determining the scope is to determine the audience that will receive the assessment. It could be the entire board, committees or directors individually. A well-designed plan will identify the evaluation methodology. Interviews, surveys or facilitated discussion are the most common methodologies. Once the scope of the evaluation as well as the method of evaluation have been established the next step is to create and distribute questionnaires.

Some boards decide to conduct the evaluation in-house while others enlist an outside consultant. A third-party consultant can ensure a fair and thorough analysis, which is essential when you do not have the time or resources to conduct the test yourself.

It is crucial that board members assess themselves. However it is also crucial that nonprofit boards concentrate on the entire group. It is easy for nonprofit boards and their evaluation facilitators to get caught up in evaluating individuals’ responses and neglect examining the board as a whole.

A successful self-assessment is able to help boards clarify their expectations for each other, uncover weaknesses in the composition of their boards and align the expertise of the board with the organizational strategy and address concerns of investors about turnover and diversity and increase the effectiveness of board procedures and practices. In a growing number of cases, public companies are publishing the outcomes of their board’s assessments in their proxy statements.