Board Assessments

This article first appeared in Volunteer Victoria’s E-Link newsletter on August 12 , 2011. Sign up for E-Link and keep current with news and information from Volunteer Victoria.

New drivers are sometimes nervous about shoulder checks – afraid that if they take their eyes off the road ahead they might drift into another lane. Experienced drivers seem to have many reasons why they don’t need to look around – everything from there is never anything to worry about and it takes time away from things that are more important, to it is just a pain in the neck.

When it comes to driving non-profit organizations, board assessments may be the equivalent of the shoulder check. Some boards complete regular assessments to scan their environment, identify obstacles in their way, communicate their intentions, and adjust their speed or direction, while others take continuous quick glances to make sure that they are not in imminent danger. Some boards never complete assessments – they rely on others who share the road to reduce risk and behave as predicted – and hope that their journey always ends safely.

The Board Performance Self-Assessment  Questionnaire (BPSAQ) Project, part of a research study being carried out by Profs. Vic Murray of Victoria, and Yvonne Harrison of the State University of New York, Albany, provides a road-map for new and experienced boards and board members. 

This project provides:
· A website ( through which boards can access a comprehensive questionnaire covering the major issues that affect board performance.
· An easy method of distributing this questionnaire online to board members and those with whom they interact.
· Automatic compilation and summary of all responses.
· Two detailed reports on the overall performance of the board on 9 dimensions of effectiveness.
· Advice on how best to use these reports to achieve needed changes in governance practices.

Note: All responses to the Board Self-Assessment Questionnaire are anonymous and confidential. Cooperating organizations receive only statistical summaries of results.

For more information on the BPSAQ project contact:
Prof. Vic Murray at, phone: 250 595 7436 or
Prof. Yvonne Harrison at

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