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Nonprofit Managers Evaluation: Best Practices For Your Team

Posted on 10 October, 2022 at 16:40

By Rutendo Chinzou

Summers in Chirundu are rather hot and dusty with stagnant air with hints of frustration on their faces, coupled with the distress of the hot weather, the management team seemed tense and apprehensive during a project close-off meeting. “You cannot afford to turn a blind eye to performance-related issues. Yes, we have come to the end of the Chinyaradzo project, its effectiveness and efficiency have been measured but what about individual performance? How well did you contribute to the program?” Mr. Chinyaka was speaking with a lot of passion here and this made the rest of the managers a bit uncomfortable. Wiping of the sweat on his forehead, he concluded “This is not meant to put anyone on the spot or to make anyone feel attacked so your attitudes have to line up.  It is a concerted effort to better ourselves to ensure we perform to the bream of our potential in the coming year. Year-end is the perfect time for some self-introspection and performance assessment.”


But does management need assessment? One could obviously question this from a viewpoint that the management team sets the direction and course for the organisation, it sets performance measures and metrics. The reality is that everyone needs feedback and review to continue growing in their field. Often, the more responsibility you hold in an organization, the more public that evaluation process becomes and this is the case for nonprofit leaders. Many within the nonprofit systems may undergo a highly private review process. Conversely, the CEO and management team are typically engaged in an evaluation by the executive board.

Management Evaluation Process

Nonprofit management team evaluations must follow a predetermined set of guidelines, which was included in the employee contract. Ideally, there is no disparity between expectations. These guidelines should outline how and when the performance evaluation will be completed, what criteria the performance will evaluate, and how the findings will be utilized for professional growth. This should all take into consideration the needs of the nonprofit organization as well as the individual. It is also up to the board how the evaluation will take place and this may include;

a)      A self-evaluation process

Most managers are ambitious, energized self-starters. Chances are that they will have an extensive list of expectations for themselves. The self-evaluation process allows the managers time to review the goals they set in the year and think about how more progress could be made in the coming year.

b)      Reflection reports on personal performance and growth plans

After or in addition to a self-evaluation process, it may be beneficial for managers to bounce their insights to the board. What areas surprised them? Where could they have used more support? What seems the most challenging of the growth plans, and how can the board help the executive succeed?

c)       Reports from staff, beneficiaries, funders, or other partners

You may have heard of this called a “360-degree evaluation.” The efficacy of this method on its own is under some scrutiny, but the perspective of those who work with the managers can certainly be beneficial to some degree. The crucial point of these nonprofit managers’ assessments is to make sure they are productive, and not just an airing of unspoken grievances.

d)      Intermittent observations conducted by the board

Regular doses of smaller feedback can also be helpful to nonprofit leadership.  For example, board members could weigh in on what is working and what could improve in their observation. It’s important that this doesn’t become personal, but always has the growth and success of the whole organization in focus.

Quantitative Evaluation Metrics

Fundraising Goal Completion: Did we meet our development goals set for the year? Did we meet our goals of donor retention, average donation amount, and specific campaign goals? While this is a yes or no question, of course, it is important to remember that there are often factors outside anyone’s control.

Increase in donors, gift size, constituents served, or projects completed: Are trend lines moving in the right direction? Are we building a good story to tell the community and possible funders? If not, why not, and what can the board do to help turn the tide?

Growth of organization metrics: Executive directors will most likely have a goal of increasing the scope or depth of services provided. Whatever the desired measurement of the mission is, a periodic evaluation of progress needs to be recorded.

Qualitative Evaluation Metrics

Leadership skills: Is the management able to inspire the staff and volunteers to do their best work? What is turnover like under this executive, and what do people say at their exit interviews? Where does management want to build more leadership skills? This is an especially important area that affects almost everything else the executive director does.

Relationship-building skills: One major responsibility of management is to foster beneficial relationships with a number of stakeholders. Depending on the type of organization, it may be important to build rapport with other complementary nonprofits or community organizations. Additionally, the executive director should work to build trust with board members and key staff members.

Problem-solving and decision-making skills: Does management meet standards of timeliness and professionalism? Can they demonstrate an ability to develop and follow an action plan? These considerations not only affect the effectiveness and growth of operations, but they also affect how your nonprofit is represented to the public.

Tips on evaluating performance

i.                     Keep things fair, objective and open

ii.                   Keep written records of evaluations from each year

iii.                 Set SMART goals at the end of each year

iv.                 Include representatives from all levels


Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

NMap Technologies