Organizational Sustainability



The following plans show the range of activities you can do in building your Board according to the specific roles you want it to play.

The Foundation for Civil Society Tanzania(FCST) plans to form Board committee on sustainability aside from engaging the Board, staff and members on the need to address sustainability issues.

Officers of FCST are convinced that the most immediate strategy for its own organizational sustainability is pursuing actions as follows: Form a Board committee on sustainability; engage staff, Board, and members in discussion on sustainability; ensure appropriate skills mix in the Board; and have a permanent agenda in staff and Board meetings on sustainability.

The Catholic Welfare and Development believes in and plans to build a strong board with investment and legal skills

ABSA Foundation believes that the relevance and marketing of the foundation should engage the leadership and draw on their vision and strategic leadership. This will result in buy-in of organization and promote its relevance.

The East Africa Association of Grant Makers plans to mainstream fundraising as a Board committee. That way, will put in place a dedicated body that will constantly pursue reflection or in-depth determination of ways and means that will ensure financial sustainability of the Association.

The International Network of Women’s Funds recognizes that to ensure sustainability it needs to review, reconstitute, and rematch its Board according to its members’ skills.


To help you assess the effectiveness of your Board, you may use the following tools. The first tool is intended to help you determine the “state of affairs,“ of your Board. By identifying the gap and its source, you will be more able to strengthen your Board.

(Note: Gap refers to the discrepancy between what you think the condition should be, and what it actually is now. For example, your organization may not have criteria for selecting members, or falls short of the criteria below, in which case you answer “No”. You may state the gap as “My organization has not developed criteria for Board members.” Next, find out what the source of the gap is. Is it lack of time to prepare one? Or lack of knowhow? Or the need has not been recognized?

Yes No Gap Source of Gap
1. Is my Board multisectoral and does it include a representative from the community/sector my organization serves?
2. Does my organization have criteria for selecting board members?
3. Do we have a clear and transparent process for selecting board members? (not always through an election)
4. Do my board members attend at least 85% of meetings and other functions?
5. Do my board members have job descriptions or terms of reference?
6. Does my board have functioning committees?
7. Is there a written policy regarding my Board’s relationship with the Executive Director/CEO?
8. Does my board have a board development program?
9. Does my Board have a succession plan?


After identifying the gaps and their sources, you may find the following useful in addressing them. The “Milestones” in the tool refer to documents or situations that tell you are close to achieving your task, such as “Development of a set of criteria for selecting Board members”.

Gap Source of Gap Critical Activities to Address Gap Persons to Involve in Addressing Gap Resources Needed to Address Gap Source of Resources Milestones Time frame
Gap 1              
Gap 2              
Gap 3              
Gap 4              
Gap 5              
Gap 6              
Gap 7              
Gap 8              

Suggested Activities

The following are activities you might wish to conduct as you work toward building an effective Board.

  1. Reviewing board composition
  2. Developing criteria for board selection
  3. Preparing a job description for board members
  4. Preparing a board development plan
  5. Identifying and forming board committees