Develop your board

What is Develop Your Board?

The Develop Your Board project (DYB) has been developing validated surveys which can be used to evaluate the performance of nonprofit boards and management committees. The project focused on the board as a governance team, rather than taking a legal or theoretical approach. We’ve been going through the lengthy validation process in order to be confident that the scales we are using measure what we say they measure. The project is also breaking important new ground because there’s no validated evaluation instrument for nonprofit boards in the Australian context.

The project has completed pilot testing and the original surveys have been refined extensively. The evaluation tools are available for free from the DYB website. The project has been approved by the QUT Human Research Ethics Committee (no. 1400000389).

Who is it for?

All nonprofit boards and management committees can use the DYB evaluation. The more organisations that come on board, the better the validation process. It’s vital to get more data to establish meaningful benchmarks for the diverse nonprofit sector. As a databank of results builds up, nonprofit boards and management committees are able to benchmark their results against their previous results and/or against other nonprofit boards and management committees.

The surveys currently available are:

  • A Whole of Board evaluation survey
  • A Chair/President evaluation survey

Does it work?

Preliminary testing on the Whole of Board and Chair surveys has had promising results, indicating that validity and reliability of the items (questions) and variables is quite sound. We have also been able to test the results of a small number of boards against information gathered by interviewing and observing, and the results accord well. Comments from several boards that have completed the evaluations also indicate reliable results.

Just doing the surveys can be beneficial, by helping board and management committee members think about governance processes and particularly about how, together, they work as a governance team.

How do we get started?

Participating in the project is easy. Once your board or management committee decides to participate, we set up and send to you a ‘board code’. That code makes it possible for us to pull out your board’s data when reporting the results, while individuals’ responses remain anonymous. The surveys are available from a link which we also send to you, and all surveys can be done at participants’ convenience. The two main surveys take about half an hour each. Most boards choose to do both the Whole of Board and the Chair/President evaluation, but some choose not to do both (or to delay one). Your board or management committee would certainly find the DYB board evaluation worthwhile.

Contact the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) to register your interest to take part in 2021. Email: acpns@qut.edu.au.

How do we find out our results?

Once your board or management committee members have completed the board evaluation, contact us and request the report of results.

The Whole of Board report has a series of simple column graphs showing both the average and the range of responses on each variable. We also provide an Appendix comparing your board’s or management committee’s average performance against exploratory benchmarks (the benchmarks are not yet ‘validated’). It shows with simple colour-coding on each variable where your board or management committee sits in comparison to all the nonprofit boards and management committees that have completed the Whole of Board evaluation and received a report.

The Chair/President evaluation is sent directly to your chairperson or president, who may choose whether and how to distribute it. It shows the chair’s own responses on each variable, plotted against the average and range of responses of all other board members.

Where can we find out more?

More information about the project and nonprofit governance is also available from this website. Some nonprofit boards and management committees will be able to get professional assistance to use the results of their evaluations, but for many this is not possible. The Wiki has information about governance responsibilities, practice and links to other resources. This will also help you understand your survey results and decide what you are doing well and why, and identify areas for improvement.