Assess Your Chief Executive – Even If That Person is a Volunteer

Nonprofits that operate with a volunteer executive director are often faced with the conundrum—should this person undergo an annual evaluation in the same way that a paid executive director would be assessed?  Or, should the evaluation be skipped because the salary adjustment issue is off the table?

The issue of evaluating the executive director is more complicated than simply being a precursor to providing your leader with a salary adjustment.  Even in the best of times, some nonprofits evaluate their executive director and do not follow that evaluation with a salary adjustment.  Failing to evaluate the executive director means that the board misses a major opportunity to assess how the chief executive is working to lead the organization toward fulfilling its mission.  In effect, the board is giving up its important responsibility for ensuring the accountability of the chief executive’s performance.  Without an evaluation of this individual, the board has no formal way to provide input as to how the chief executive leads the organization.  Moreover, it might also lead to a situation where there is a tremendous amount of power residing with the chief staff person.

With respect to volunteers, the organization’s policies and procedures should also “address initial assessment or screening, assignment to and training for appropriate work responsibilities, ongoing supervision and evaluation, and opportunities for advancement,” as clearly stated in the Standards for Excellence® code.

Did you know?  The Standards for Excellence® program’s educational resource packet, “Compensation and Employee Evaluation,” includes sample evaluation forms for chief executive officers. The packet is free and available to Standards for Excellence Institute® members.  It is available through the members only section of our website.  Hard copies are also available upon request.

Log in to access this educational resource packet. Not a member? Join now!


About Amy Coates Madsen

Amy Coates Madsen serves as the Program Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute.
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