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Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors

Last night I was skimming through a book about fundraising. I was surprised to see that members of the Board of Directors are tacitly supposed to give to the charity. So I googled a bit and found this Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors (courtesy of Greater Twin Cities United Way).

It’s hard to assess in how far the CouchSurfing Board is meeting these requirements, apart from 4 (recommended) and 15 (essential): all 5 members of the board have American citizenship, are living in California, are in their thirties, there is one female member and 3 out of 5 are receiving a salary.

Most of the other points don’t seem to be available for public scrutiny (at this point it’s even unclear to me if there are any bylaws).  It would be nice if there were a bit more clarity about this charity.

Indicator Met Needs
E 1. The roles of the Board and the Executive Director are defined and respected, with the Executive Director delegated as the manager of the organization’s operations and the board focused on policy and planning
R 2. The Executive Director is recruited, selected, and employed by the Board of Directors. The board provide clearly written expectations and qualifications for the position, as well as reasonable compensation.
R 3. The Board of Directors acts a governing trustees of the organization on behalf of the community at large and contributors while carrying out the organization’s mission and goals. To fully meet this goal, the Board of Directors must actively participate in the planning process as outlined in planning sections of this checklist.
R 4. The board’s nominating process ensures that the board remains appropriately diverse with respect to gender, ethnicity, culture, economic status, disabilities, and skills and/or expertise. NO
E 5. The board members receive regular training and information about their responsibilities.
E 6. New board members are oriented to the organization, including the organization’s mission, bylaws, policies, and programs, as well as their roles and responsibilities as board members.
A 7. Board organization is documented with a description of the board and board committee responsibilities.
A 8. Each board has a board operations manual.
E 9. If the organization has any related party transactions between board members or their family, they are disclosed to the board of directors, the Internal Revenue Service and the auditor.
E 10. The organization has at least the minimum number of members on the Board of Directors as required by their bylaws or state statute.
R 11. If the organization has adopted bylaws, they conform to state statute and have been reviewed by legal counsel.
R 12. The bylaws should include: a) how and when notices for board meetings are made; b) how members are elected/appointed by the board; c) what the terms of office are for officers/members; d) how board members are rotated; e) how ineffective board members are removed from the board; f) a stated number of board members to make up a quorum which is required for all policy decisions.
R 13. The board of directors reviews the bylaws.
A 14. The board has a process for handling urgent matters between meetings.
E 15. Board members serve without payment unless the agency has a policy identifying reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses. NO
R 16. The organization maintains a conflict-of-interest policy and all board members and executive staff review and/or sign to acknowledge and comply with the policy.
R 17. The board has an annual calendar of meetings. The board also has an attendance policy such that a quorum of the organization’s board meets at least quarterly.
A 18. Meetings have written agendas and materials relating to significant decisions are given to the board in advance of the meeting.
A 19. The board has a written policy prohibiting employees and members of employees’ immediate families from serving as board chair or treasurer.
Indicators ratings: E=essential; R=recommended; A=additional to strengthen organizational activities

6 Responses to “Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors”

  • Ha!

    A charity that serves white, western, middle-class, computer savvy freeloaders? PlEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!!

  • You forgot ‘male’.
    And not so computer-savvy, that is illustrated by the website.

  • Interesting checklist. I did a quick tally of the BeWelcome/BeVolunteer Board (disclosure: I am part of it) and came to this result:

    Met Needs work N/A
    Essential 4 0 2
    Recommended 4 3 1
    Additional 4 0 1

    Some things aren’t relevant for BeWelcome because nobody is getting paid, so there is no executive director and we don’t (can’t) pay for training for the board. The recommended criteria that “need work” are not easy: diversity is quite hard in the board (not doing too bad though) and legal counsil is expensive. A conflict-of-interest policy (nr 16) seems a bit over the top for now. Some elements could be more formal and more visible in BW, but they are there nevertheless.

    All in all, I’m quite happy with the result and proud of the people that made it happen (mainly my predecessors).

  • hi guys

    I’ve enjoyed researching about good governance in non-profit orgs, as Kaspar has with fundraising, and can recommend the following links. Thanks Kasper for this great topic! One of the most important roles we can play as part of any non-profit group is as informed, engaged members. I evaluate 501c3 non-profit arts groups here in the US, as part of a government commission, and find a lot of confusion all around on what exactly constitutes a ‘charity’ generally…it’s a pretty broad definition here…and CS is indeed formally legally registered as a public charity in New Hampshire.

  • Hi guys.
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    I used Windows XP.

  • Thanx for this beautiful place in internet!!!

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