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Many nonprofit boards have performance issues. Some boards are subject to legal scrutiny and need to improve. Others want to improve their value to donors or the community. There are others who require specific board governance issues. It is essential for all boards, regardless of the pressures, to carry out some type of evaluation. A performance evaluation may seem intimidating, especially if it is a new process for the board. The proper tools and guidance can aid any board in overcoming obstacles and achieve success.

The first step is to understand the issue. The most common problems are that the board serves too much as a “rubber stamp” for decisions taken by management or is involved in operational matters which should be left to the CEO and management team. Similarly, the board may be unsure of its legal obligations and how it can protect itself from them.

In such instances the board must clearly define its role and define it and communicate clearly between the board team and management. The board should also ensure that it has structures that can be used to carry out its duties. This may include committees and officer posts that are charged with collecting and analyzing data about the board’s performance. In addition, it is essential that any agreed-upon actions resulting from a review of the board are acted upon and monitored regularly. The momentum created during the evaluation can be lost.