Good Governance: Board Assessment

Last time I wrote about the importance of nonprofit boards’ duty of assessing the organization’s executive director, or if you prefer, the CEO or president.  A very important and necessary basic responsibility of the board of directors.

This post is about evaluating the boardnonprofit board

OK, it seems obvious that the main employee of an organization should be evaluated periodically, if not annually. Especially if the individual is paid, but it’s not a bad thing if they aren’t either.  So the next question, is why should we take the time to assess the board? Really – we’re volunteers!

There are plenty of good reasons and I’m going to tell you a few you can’t ignore.

  1. To determine if the board is doing it’s best.
  2. To find out what the board as a whole thinks of how it’s doing.
  3. To find out what individuals know about their responsibilities.

Simple. Straight forward. Fairly easy to accomplish. Not painful.

Outside or Inside?

A board evaluation can be done by an outside consultant service or in-house as a self-assessment. There are online assessments and consultants who will undertake a board evaluation but it is likely that both of those will charge a fee and that may present a hindrance to a tight budget.

On the other hand you could find a prepared, generic assessment and administer it to your board members, but the downside of that is they may not answer honestly if they know you’ll be looking at their answers.

Consequently my preference is actually a combination of the two. You can distribute a generic assessment, or tweak one to address your organization’s specific needs, but then have your board members mail their completed questionnaire to a third party for tallying. This way their answers can remain anonymous and they’ll be more likely to be truthful with their answers.

There are several resources available for assessment in the form of questions, surveys and self-evaluation which will make this responsibility manageable for any board.

Where do you start?

Start by asking the dubyas:

  • Why do you want to assess the board?
  • What do you want to know?
  • Will knowing the answers help?
  • Who will create the assessment?
  • Who will tally the answers?

Have questions?  Give the PCNRC staff a call or email and we’d be happy to help. By the way, board assessment is a service that the Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center offers free to Allen County nonprofits.

Small group, BIG conversation

What do board term limits, millennials, and “founder’s syndrome” have in common? The answer is last week’s Stewardship Lunch! A group of six people met to share their nonprofit experiences. In our free flowing conversation at JK O’Donnell’s, it was a small group that discussed big topics.

Stewardhip Lunch 07.22.2015The topic that stuck with me the most was the answers to the question – “what is one thing you wish you knew before being a board member.” One answer was telling potential board members that they have to give and fund-raise. Number five of the 10 Basic Roles and Responsibilities of Board Members is to raise funds. For brand new board members, this is key information and something that needs to be communicated upfront when recruiting.

A second answer was that every board member does indeed have a role. It is not just filling a spot and keeping the chair warm. Board members each have the 10 Basic Roles and Responsibilities to follow and the need to fulfill their individual purpose. The purpose might be your area of professional expertise or something that you feel very passionate towards.

The third response had to do with an organization “[clicking] in your heart.” For the health of the organization, potential or already serving board members need to know and be reminded that there is an expectation to give 100%. Giving a tour to a board recruit will help determine if there is a good fit.

The next Stewardship Lunch is Tuesday August 25, 2015 at 11:30 am, Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits. Email to RSVP.

Job Opportunity: Habitat for Humanity – Part-Time ReStore Associate

The Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 3837 N. Wells St. is seeking a part-time sales associate.

The ReStore is a unique retail environment that sells new and used donated building supplies, home improvement merchandise and household items to the public.

Qualified candidates will have a “customer first” mindset and a desire to work in a nonstandard retail environment. This is an opportunity for a positive, people-oriented individual who wants to apply his/her skills to raise funds to support Fort Wayne Habitat’s mission of building homes, communities and hope.


  • Interacting positively with donors and customers.
  • Assisting with the retail operation, including operating the cash register and making sales.
  • Providing superior customer service to donors and customers.
  • Following all store policies and procedures.

Candidates must have a flexible schedule and be able to work anytime Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Wednesday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Total hours will vary from 20 to 29 hours per week. Continue reading

Final episode of Social Media Series 2015

You are invited to the LAST Social Media Series for the summer of 2015! Join us to get answers from professionals and connect with your peers.

Who: Jaclyn Garver, Media Relations and Communications Coordinator at Ivy Tech

JGarverJaclyn Garver is the creator and editor/primary writer of Green Light, a section of the College’s news and events blog for the campus and community. She has also written blogs for previous employers like The Journal Gazette, including the successful new-to-Fort-Wayne blog, Making Myself at Home. Jaclyn has a degree in newspaper journalism from Kent State University and specializes in writing conversational copy that addresses and connects with her audience.

What: In “Blogging for non-profit: Find your voice–and your audience,” Jaclyn Garver will go through her tips and suggestions to build and maintain a blog with your organization’s audience in mind.

Where: Allen County Public Library, Meeting Room C

When: Wednesday August 5, 2015 @ 11:30 – 1 pm

Format: Lunch and networking from 11:30 to 11:45, presentation from 11:45 to 12:45, and then Q&A, networking, and filling out evaluations from 12:45 to 1:00. *Please note you are welcome to bring your own lunch. Lunch will not be provided.

How: Sign up here to attend.

Job Opportunity: WFWA PBS39 – Account Executive

Account Executive – Studio 39 Productions

WFWA PBS39 seeks an account executive with demonstrated success in establishing local contacts and achieving marketing goals to market PBS39 production services.

Position Overview:

Reporting to the Corporate Development Director, the Account Executive-Studio39 Productions is a sales position responsible for marketing Studio 39 video production services, securing Studio39 production contracts with area corporations/businesses, organizations and foundations, and servicing those clients by ensuring that their projects run smoothly.

WFWA PBS39 is known throughout the northeast Indiana region as a highly trusted media institution. It has earned a reputation for high-quality broadcast productions. PBS39 proudly brings the same professionalism and creativity to Studio39. Studio39 is available to those whose non-broadcast communications needs include high-quality, effective and award-winning production services. Businesses throughout northeast Indiana can reap the cost-effective benefits of this regional production resource. Continue reading

My Top 5 Tools for Grant Writing

top 5You could be one of two categories of people reading the title of this blog post – (1) yes, yes, and yes! or (2) quickly closing your browser or deleting the email notification. Everyone has a reaction to “grant writing.” I admit that when I first starting in nonprofits I was the second category of person – running for the hills. Grant writing process is indeed daunting, requiring specific parts and a different style of writing. I became more confident as I learned some useful tools for writing proposals and grant applications.

 Here is a top 5 list for grant writing:

 5. Statistics

In graduate school, my statistics book was titled “Statistics Without Tears.” I did not shed one tear; however, I am thankful that gathering statistics is a lot easier than having to do the math myself! Consider yourself fortunate that there are statistics out there for you to use in your grant proposal. Statistics will help quantify your project and specifically in your need statement. Finding statistics too just got a lot easier. On the PCNRC’s home page under “Links,” you’ll find a whole page of creditable sources for statistics. Click here to go directly to the statistic PCNRC page.

4. Budget

There are two budgets you need. First one is the organization’s general operating budget and the second one is a budget of how much the project will cost. The general operating budget will give you a understanding of how much of your resources that can be added to the grant proposal and good internal statistics about how money is spent.

The second budget, how much the project will cost, will get you thinking about your project and how much money you will need. When I have written proposals, I like to do a rough budget first before writing. It helps me identify different pieces in the project, such as material or personnel costs. I will also research costs and perhaps vendors. I can then wrap my brain around the entire project and what is involved, including who, when, why, and how.

 3. 990s

I was asked once, “why all the excitement about 990s?” I’ll tell you why! It is because the 990s is a treasure trove of information.  For one, it offers a financial picture about their overall health. Secondly, there may be qualitative information about their board of directors and even mission statements. Thirdly, and my number one reason to get excited about 990s, is you will be able to look at who funders give money to and how much! This is imperative to determine how much to ask for and if they give to organizations like yours. You most certainly want to review 990s (and at least the last three) before you write.

 2. Grant Readiness

In the Grant Basics I class we offer at PCNRC, we ask “Are you grant ready?” Well of course, right?! You are ready to get those funds into the organization’s bank account. Nope, that’s not what I mean. Asking if you are grant ready has to do with important questions about competitiveness and creditability as an organization. In this context, creditability means having 501(c)3 status, board of directors, positive track record, etc. All of these pieces of the puzzle need to be in place before writing grant proposals. Why you might ask? Well, I answer you with a question – why would funders award a grant if you weren’t a 501(c)3, or had a solid infrastructure, or strong leadership? You are an investment and they want to give to a sustainable entity.

 1. Strategic Plan

Having a strategic plan at your fingertips will greatly help you stay in line with the organization’s long term direction. Think of it in terms of not mission drifting. It is key to match the organization’s mission with the project being proposed.


Programs this week – 7/22 & 7/23

When: Wednesday July 22, 2015 @ 11:30 am

What: Stewardship LunchFoellinger Logo

Connect with the Foellinger Foundation’s Stewardship Nominees in a small, intimate group to talk about effective, meaningful board governance.

Where: JK O’Donnell’s – 121 W Wayne St., Fort Wayne

How: RSVP is required. Email Elise, to reserve your seat! Please note lunch is on your own. Limited seating.


Picture1 When: Thursday, July 23, 2015 @ 4 pm

What: 23@4 – Internships

In this information session Elise will present the mutual benefits for having internship opportunities and how to get started with an internship program.

Where: Meeting Room B – Main Library