Supporting the Executive Director/CEO

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Sometimes Nonprofits fail to carry out a performance review on the Executive or CEO managing the organization. The Board expects him/her to conduct performance evaluations on their staffs, but fail to support the leader with similar feedback. This is doing a disservice to the leader. Failing to provide feedback can lead to uncertainty, strained working relationships, mistrust and possibly poor performance and turnover.

What are the criteria to be considered in doing a performance evaluation for the chief executive? A recent article by Boardsource Resources+Resolutions [1]has provided an excellent list of areas that Boards should consider when evaluating an executive. They are:

  • Planning for the future. Working with the Board to clarify the vision and mission and how to implement it.
  • Fundraising. In partnership with the Board, developing strategies to provide for the financial goals of the organization.
  • Administration. Working with staff to develop, maintain, and use appropriate systems for successful operations of the organization.
  • Board Relations. Maintaining harmonious and productive relationships with the Board.
  • Communications and Public Relations. Promoting the organization and being an advocate for the mission.
  • Financial Management. Ensuring the resources are managed wisely and efficiently.

The Board needs to decide factors to evaluate for each one of these areas so that the measurements are consistent and agreed upon. In order to be clear and specific, it may be helpful to define what the executive does well with each factor, and what areas he/she might perform better. Remember, the purpose of the evaluation is to support, define, and provide useful feedback.

If the Board is large, a committee who knows the executive best, may be appointed to gather the data, organize it, and present it to the chief executive. Either way, the Board should be briefed and feel a part of the evaluation process.

BoardSource provides an on-line survey that is comprehensive for each area, and is confidential. There is a cost for the survey, but also a sample survey to be viewed on-line. I especially liked the step-by-step instructions for how to use the survey and conduct the process.

[1] BoarsSource, March 3, 2016, Are You Following Recommended Governance Practices

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,