Making assessment an organizational mindset

Self-assessment might not always be the most pleasant undertaking, but it is necessary.

Of course mission is what a nonprofit is all about, but stopping to look and see what is going on is a way to ensure that mission is being fulfilled as effectively as possible.

In his book “The Social Profit Handbook,” David Grant maintains that nonprofit leaders need to make assessment an integral part of their operations. This assessment mind-set must run through the entire organization, he writes. In fact, it must be at the center of an organization’s culture, not peripheral to it.

This mind-set includes everyone in the following ways:

* Executive directors/CEOs: Signal that assessment work matters to you and to the organization. Remember, you don’t have to do it yourself. Help your staff and board through the “groan zone.” Help board and staff acquire a shared knowledge base.

* Board members: Be sure an assessment system exists. Model the practice by assessing yourself. Avoid the trap of under-investing in organizational development.

* Foundation officers: Be sure to respond to (and promote) the right measures. Respect local measures. Consider teaching grantee organizations how to better self-assess.