Building Capacity in Nonprofit Boards: Learning from Board Self-Assessments

Judith L. Millesen, Joanne G. Carman


Boards of directors of nonprofit charitable organizations have long been responsible for serving essential purposes and performing critical agency functions. Given these responsibilities, it seems reasonable to expect that a periodic review of a board’s capacity to effectively govern a nonprofit charitable organization be conducted. Using data collected from 800 individuals serving as board members of 42 different performing arts nonprofits, this study reports on board member evaluations of their individual and collective participation in the governance process through a self-assessment undertaken to inform decision-making and build capacity at both the board and organizational levels. Findings suggest the need for more (or better) training/orientation opportunities; focused, intentional, and tailored recruitment processes; clear communication, greater role clarity, and specificity regarding board performance expectations; greater understanding about best practices and the need to add value; and time to cultivate openness and collegiality among the board members and between the board and staff.


Nonprofit Governance; Self-Assessment; Capacity Building

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.