I want our board to assess how we’re functioning, and I’m looking for a checklist or resource to guide the discussion.

Our Trustee Handbook lists characteristics of effective foundation boards, which you might find helpful:

  • The board has a well-defined board governance system with rules and processes that allow it to function efficiently and effectively.
  • Board members are fully acquainted with the purposes, goals, history, and potential of the foundation they govern.
  • Board members are united in their support of the foundation’s mission and grant program.
  • The board meets with enough frequency to accomplish its work.
  • Each board member accepts personal responsibility for ensuring that the mission is carried out and that all rules, regulations, and procedures are followed.
  • Board members periodically disclose any real or perceived conflicts of interest and follow the board’s policy in dealing with them.
  • The board regularly evaluates the outcomes of its programs, builds on its successes, and learns from its
  • The board communicates regularly and openly with the public about its mistakes.
  • The board recognizes its staff and grantees as partners.
  • The board takes its own education very seriously and is open to different points of view.
  • The board plans for the future, develops a process for renewal, and addresses the issue of succession.

Source: Anne Morgan, Ph.D.

For a more formal assessment, you may want to consider our Practical Board Self-Assessment, which includes questionnaires that allow you to rate your board in the areas below. You can complete any or all of the sections, as relevant to your needs.

  • Trustee roles and responsibilities
  • Board effectiveness and dynamics
  • Governance
  • Grantmaking
  • Legal and tax compliance
  • Investments
  • Financial oversight
  • Board meeting assessment
  • Individual board member self-assessment

You’ll find additional ways to assess your board in the article Board Assessment: Three Common Methods.

Still have questions?

Members can access staff experts through our Q&A service by calling 202-580-6560, or post a question to the member community to hear form peers in the field.

Explore our Q&A archive