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posted on Oct 9, 2018
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A 360-Degree Organizational Assessment is a tool for gathering information that can be used to help senior management and board members gain a better understanding of how your organization is doing, to help make better strategic decisions. Just as there are 360 degrees in a circle, the 360-Degree Organizational Assessment places the organization at the center of a circle and looks at it from the viewpoint of its many stakeholders.

Seek Feedback from varied stakeholders

In a 360-degree assessment, the board seeks feedback from those who stand around the outside of the circle as well as inside it: this can include clients, the wider community, volunteers, donors, funders, and staff.

Staff

Consider asking staff to anonymously complete a questionnaire to get their perspective on the agency’s strengths and weaknesses. On the questionnaire, make it clear that these comments are one way, not the only way, the board is conducting the assessment. Here are some sample survey statements:

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements:

  • [Organization Name] consistently does quality work.
  • I am proud to be an employee of this organization.
  • I am embarrassed to be an employee of this organization.
  • The duties of my job are clear to me.
  • I have confidence in the staff leadership of this organization.
  • Most of the time, I have enough time to complete my work assignments.
  • Most of the time, I have adequate information to do my job.
  • This organization is financially unstable.
  • I am respected by my supervisor.
  • I am respected by people who report to me.

Foundation, corporate, and government funders:

Board members can conduct a series of telephone interviews with foundation and government program officers, in which a board member asks, for example, for comments on the quality of written proposals submitted, quality of communication and interaction with the agency, the agency’s reputation in the community, and suggested areas for improvement or change. Here is an excerpt from a sample interview script:

“As you know from the letter you received last week, [Organization] is conducting a 360-degree assessment of our organization. I’m a board member of [Organization], and I want to ask you a few questions…

  • How well acquainted are you with [Organization]’s programs and operations?
  • What do you think [Organization] does very well?
  • Are there some activities you think we do poorly, or that need improvement?
  • How would you characterize the quality and promptness of our proposals and reports?
  • From your direct interactions with [Organization], what is your general impression?
  • If there were one thing you would like to see [Organization] change, what would it be?

Donors and volunteers

Staff and board members can conduct telephone interviews with major donors and key volunteers, asking for feedback on how well the agency involves and informs them, and seeking perceptions about the agency’s effectiveness. Here are some sample questions:

  • How did it come about that you are a donor to [Organization] (or a volunteer with [Organization])?
  • You have many choices in where to make donations (or volunteer). What made you choose [Organization] as one of those places?
  • Have we thanked you appropriately? Too much? Too little? On time?
  • Have our staff been appropriately responsive to you, in giving you information about [Organization]’s procedures, organization, or clients? What, if anything, do you have questions about?
  • If there were one thing you would like to see [Organization] change, what would it be?

Clients or patrons:

Consider holding one or two focus groups with clients or patrons, facilitated by an experienced focus group leader, where they can give feedback on current services and unmet needs. A more extensive client survey can involve a written questionnaire, a telephone survey, or in-person interviews. Some examples of questions:

  • How did you first hear about [Organization]?
  • What was your first contact with [Organization] like?
  • What makes it difficult for you to use [Organization]’s services? What bothers you about [Organization]?
  • What do you wish that [Organization] did that it doesn’t do now?
  • [Organization] is thinking it may need to charge for some of the services that are now free. What would your reaction be to something like this? (Hand out a sample fee schedule)

How to use the information gathered

What you do with the information depends on what information you receive.

For example, maybe funders inform you that grant reports are well-written but often late. This information should go to the Executive Director. Maybe staff consistently report satisfaction or dissatisfaction with specific aspects of the organization; these can be useful information for the management team.

A few caveats...

  • The information gathered in a 360-degree assessment needs to be used with care. Critical comments definitely need to be shared, to the extent that they can drive improvement; however, the original wording of a comment does not necessarily need to be preserved.
  • Also, keep in mind that a 360-degree Organizational Assessment is not the same as an assessment of the Executive Director. Certainly, 360-degree assessment is also a good way to evaluate your senior leadership, but the questions would be different.
  • Finally, a 360-degree assessment is not a replacement for ongoing feedback.

To learn more…

To learn more about non-profit organizational governance, come to an upcoming workshop:

Board 101: A First View

Click here to register Wednesday, November 21, 2018. 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Board 201: A Complete Look at Being on a Board of Directors

Click here to register Saturday, June 22, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Related Blog Posts:

[1] J. Masaoka, "A 360-Degree Look at the Organization: Seeing Ourselves as Others See Us," Blue Avocado, [Online]. Available: http://www.blueavocado.org/content/360-degree-look-organization-seeing-ourselves-others-see-us. [Accessed 16 August 2018].
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