In the previous sections, the importance of strong and effective governance has been emphasized. If the board does not evaluate, however, all the good work it does can be in vain. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations need to evaluate their work as a way to be accountable and transparent to their stakeholders. It's a task that is often overlooked or under-rated in the non-profit field. Non-profit boards may feel they don't have the expertise or knowledge to carry out evaluation, or they may tackle it only when faced with an organizational crisis or at the special request of a third-party such as a funder.
Board evaluation is a key part of the board governance structure and is different from an evaluation of programs and services. Boards need to take ownership and control over their evaluation. To evaluate effectively a board first needs to ensure that there are benchmarks in place, many of which have been touched upon in previous sections such as:
- Having clear board job descriptions
- Hiring competent senior staff
- Having a strategic plan
- Having a strong chairperson
- Holding effective board meetings
- Adopting a governance structure that fits with the culture of the organization.
Bert Providence, a board member for Community Literacy of Ontario, has done some specific work with the CLO board around evaluation including evaluation of meetings and board-staff relations. You can view a brief video clip to hear more about his work with board evaluation at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO1krryzRq8.