Assessment of the Chief Executive FAQ

What is BoardSource?

BoardSource supports, trains, and educates more than 60,000 nonprofit board leaders from across the country each year. With more than 25 years of experience, BoardSource provides leaders with an extensive range of tools and resources, including webinars, live training sessions, customized diagnostics, and original publications to increase their effectiveness and magnify the impact of their mission. BoardSource is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit our website, e-mail us at [email protected], or call us at 202.349.2583.

Why is the Assessment of the Chief Executive (ACE) Important?

While the chief executive is typically surrounded by people — board members, staff members, funders, and stakeholders — leaders of organizations are often isolated from information about their own performance. The board assessment of the chief executive is one of the most important — and sometimes the only — vehicles for the executive to obtain input into his or her performance. It is a critical process for the executive’s and the organization’s success, and an essential function of the nonprofit board.

What is the process for conducting an assessment with BoardSource?

Please click here to view our full process and timeline. We estimate that it will take on average one month from the date of purchase to the date the facilitator receives your organization’s final report to conduct an Assessment of the Chief Executive (ACE) with BoardSource.

How much does your assessment product cost?

Pricing for our ACE tool varies on your membership with BoardSource.  To purchase the ACE tool, please click here.

$0-$699 Organizational Members | $899 Individual Members | $1,199 Nonmembers

To learn more about our membership offerings, please click here or reach out to our member relations team at [email protected].

Will my name and e-mail address be used for any purpose other than conducting this assessment?

No. It is the policy of BoardSource that all individual identifying information provided by survey participants remains confidential. Names and e-mail addresses provided to BoardSource are not, under any circumstances, shared with any other companies or organizations. Please review the Privacy Policy here.

Will anybody in my organization see my answers?

No. Your answers are kept confidential. They are submitted directly to BoardSource and individual answers cannot be accessed by anyone on your board. Only the aggregate answers are shared with your board via a data report. Answers to open-ended questions will be grouped together in random order in the data report. The text will appear exactly as it was entered, but it will not be attached to specific participants. Please review our assessments privacy policy here.

Will the facilitator see my answers?

No. The facilitator cannot link responses to individuals. The facilitator, however, is given information about who on the board has completed the assessment. Please review our assessments privacy policy here.

What is the difference between assessing the chief executive and assessing the organization?

Often, performance on the organization’s goals (as identified in the mission, strategic plan or annual plan) are used as a de facto assessment of the chief executive. If the organization meets its goals, the chief executive is seen as having met his or her annual goals as well. While the overall performance of the organization is a critical aspect of the chief executive’s leadership role and should be considered in the assessment process, there are other skills and talents that go into the leadership and management of the organization that should be taken into account as well. These leadership and management functions are a primary focus of the ACE tool.

Should the assessment results be tied to compensation?

The outcomes of the assessment are one critical point in the discussion of the chief executive’s performance and in decisions about adjustments to the chief executive’s compensation. However, there is no “magic formula” that correlates specific ratings on the assessment to specific changes to compensation. Compensation decisions are complex and need to take into account the organization’s policies and approach to compensation, the terms of the chief executive’s contract, length of tenure, market-based benchmarking data, and specific performance metrics or bonus criteria, in addition to the outcomes of the assessment process.

How often should the assessment process be undertaken?

The chief executive needs regular feedback from the board on his or her performance, therefore we believe that the assessment process should be completed annually.

How long do I have to complete this survey?

Your deadline for completing this assessment is included in the e-mail sent to you. We estimate it will take each individual around 30-45 minutes to complete the assessment.

Can I start and resume the assessment at a later time?

If you wish, you can begin the assessment and then return to complete it at a later time. Your answers are saved every time you move to the next page. To have your answers included in the data report, you must complete the entire assessment before the deadline date. You will find the deadline date for the survey in the e-mail you received.

How will I know how far I’ve progressed through the survey?

The white bar at the top of the page will turn blue as you progress through the survey so that you can track your progress.

How will I know that my survey has been successfully submitted?

When you see “We thank you for your time spent taking this survey. Your response has been recorded”, you can feel confident that your survey has been successfully submitted. Below this confirmation language, you will see a link on the right to download a PDF of your responses. We encourage you to click the link to download the PDF and save for future reference.

Can I change my answers once my survey has been completed?

Yes. If the survey deadline has not already passed, you can change or edit your answers. Please contact a BoardSource Assessment Services Representative at 202.349.2583 or [email protected] and request that we reopen your survey. If you wish to change a response after the deadline has passed, you must contact your organization’s facilitator to inquire about the possibility of doing so.

Who should lead the assessment process?

Typically, the assessment process is led by the one of the board officers (the Chair, the immediate past chair, or the chair of the Governance or similar committee).

Should the staff of the organization participate in the assessment process?

The full board is responsible for the overall performance and impact of the organization, so it is important that each individual board member is invited to participate and that the insights that the process yields come back to the full board. The chief executive is also encouraged to complete the same set of questions with a self-assessment lens so that their view of their overall performance can be compared with that of the board.

Many organizations find that including staff is beneficial to learning more about the chief executive’s work within the organization. BoardSource has found that the ACE can be a helpful tool for those purposes, but has also begun to hear that some leaders, especially leaders of color, find this practice to be problematic. We are continuing to listen and evaluate to surface important considerations for boards inviting staff feedback in this manner. If your board has opted for a 360 approach, we suggest using the final results as a professional development tool rather than as a formal evaluation of your chief executive. This survey is not designed as a 360 tool, so many questions will not be applicable for staff. Staff (and board members) who do not feel informed enough to respond to a question are invited to select the “N/A/Don’t know” response. If you have identified staff in your participant list, please know that their responses to the survey will automatically be segmented out in the final report for optimal analysis.

Should the Chief Executive complete a self-assessment?

We recommend that the chief executive complete the assessment and the ACE provides a vehicle for this. The ACE report presents the chief executive’s responses separately from the board’s responses, enabling the board to compare and contrast their perceptions from those of the chief executive. In addition, many chief executives also prepare a self-assessment narrative highlighting key aspects of their performance over the past year.

What is the difference between the Assessment of the Chief Executive (ACE) and a 360 assessment?

The ACE tool is a board-run undertaking designed to carry out its governance role of ensuring that the chief executive is effectively carrying out his or her responsibilities. Typically, only board members and the chief executive participate in this process. While the results of the ACE have clear implications for the chief executive’s professional development, the ACE is primarily a vehicle for performance review. A 360 assessment is a tool for leadership and professional development and typically involves the person’s supervisor, peers and direct reports. The 360 assessment process is typically undertaken and “owned” by the individual being assessed. The individual is free to accept, reject or ignore the feedback received. A 360 assessment is primarily a vehicle for performance development and enhancement.

Can we customize the survey?

The survey includes a section for annual performance goals for the chief executive, which are unique to each organization. Additionally, there are fundraising questions that can be toggled off if they are not applicable. Any additional customizations (such as adding or removing questions) are not permitted.

Can we have a report that compares this year’s data to last year’s / previous year’s data?

Yes, we offer year-to-year report for the ACE. There is a fee of $250.00 associated with a year-to-year report. Your partnering BoardSource assessment services account representative will be able to assist you with payment so please reach out to them at [email protected] to let them know of your interest.

If you have further questions, please contact a BoardSource Assessment Services Account Representative at 202.349.2583 or [email protected].