Performance evaluations are an important tool to help organizations assess their effectiveness against established metrics. Many not-for-profit organizations spend a great deal of time and resources monitoring and evaluating the performance of their programs, finances, employees, and vendors. However, when it comes to evaluating the performance of boards and committees, many do not know where to begin or what criteria should be used in such an evaluation. As a result, these evaluations are often delayed or sometimes never completed at all. For an audit committee, a self-evaluation of its effectiveness is even more important because of the significance of its responsibilities.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) provides a good starting point for audit committees that are planning to conduct a self-evaluation. The AICPA Audit Committee Toolkit: Not-for-Profit Organizations includes an audit committee self-assessment tool that contains guidelines and questions to help audit committees determine their strengths and weaknesses.
Some of the metrics addressed in the questions include:
- Financial literacy
- Use of the audit committee charter to guide meeting agendas
- Strength of financial-reporting processes due to interactions with the audit committee
- Participation in continuing education relevant to audit-committee responsibilities
No two audit committees are alike, and any self-evaluation should be tailored to your committee’s specific needs. One way of tailoring a self-evaluation is to base the questions on your audit committee charter. This will help you focus your assessment on the responsibilities that are important to the committee and to the organization. Armed with the results of a self-evaluation, your audit committee will be able to improve upon its effectiveness and help fulfill its responsibility to the board.