Evaluate your executive director

It is the responsibility of an organization’s board of directors to appraise and evaluate the performance of their executive director (also called the “nonprofit CEO”) every year.

The evaluation should be done in a climate of camaraderie for the mission of the organization and to reward and celebrate accomplishments and define areas that need improving. It should be based on performance rather than personality traits. When conducting the evaluation, try not to let personal likes or dislikes interfere with the CEO’s overall performance.

Here are some of the performance indications that should go into an evaluation:

1.  Relationship with the board of directors. Does the CEO communicate in a timely manner? Does s/he establish good working relationships not only with the president and executive committee but with all board members? Does s/he understand the role of the board and staff? Is s/he accountable to the board? Has s/he set up a climate of growth and development?

2.  Human resources and personnel functions. Are management systems firmly in place? Are there regular staff meetings? Are there performance standards and job descriptions for the staff and are the staff evaluated annually? Is there a process for resolving conflict and disagreements? Is staff turnover low? Is morale high?

3.  Leadership within the staff. Is your nonprofit considered a learning organization? Are staff members involved in appropriate staff decisions? Is the climate one of risk and growth? Does the staff function as a team? Are there clear lines of authority? Is there an emphasis on staff development? Do people look forward to coming to work and do they have fun on the job?

4.  Media, marketing and public relations. Does the organization have a media and public relations plan or strategy? Are you “positioned” well in the business community and with the religious community and the government? Are you also positioned well with your donors, supporters and stakeholders? Do you communicate effectively with your constituencies? Do you effectively get the word out about your mission and impact?

5.  Financial management. Does the CEO provide monthly reports to the board that include cash flow, income and expense reports and balance sheets? Do you have an annual audit? Are you operating within your budget?

6.  Fundraising and resource development plans. Do you have a three-year fundraising plan? Do you have a 12-month fundraising operational plan? Are you communicating with your donors and funders? Does everyone in the organization know your funding needs? Are you raising more “controllable income” each year? Is your budget growing or decreasing?

7.  Property management. How do your offices look? Are they clean and welcoming to the staff and guests? Do you have sufficient space to house your programs and people? What are your long-term property needs and do you have a plan for them?

8.  Planning. Are you driving through the rear-view mirror or are you anticipating the future? Do you have short and long-range plans with road-maps that can help you get where you want to go? Do you have regular planning retreats?

9.  Professional growth and development. Do you periodically bring in a consultant or other resources to help assure the highest quality products and people? Is there money allocated for staff and board members to join professional associations, chambers of commerce, and statewide nonprofit associations?

10.  Relationships with government agencies and strategic partners. If you are a nonprofit that receives federal and state dollars, ask the following questions: Does the organization have a process to report back to the government agencies? Are you lobbying and promoting your issues and causes around public policy issues? Are you building alliances and strategic partnerships?


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