In 2001, in collaboration with BoardSource, Washington DC, DARC undertook a study of the structures and practices of NGO governance in Nigeria.  The study was part of a larger project to document NGO governance practices in West Africa.  The outcome of the study confirmed that Nigeria, like other developing countries, had witnessed rapid growth in the non-governmental sector but organizational governance was largely rated poorly.  NGO boards in Nigeria at the time served more as a registration requirement than a functional governance role.  Board membership comprised friends and family of founders with little thought given to the value-add of the board candidate and to diversity.


In response to these findings the DARC/BoardSource partnership sought to strengthen the governance practices of the sector through programming that sensitizes organizations to the principles and best practices of good governance, the roles and responsibilities of governing boards, and the importance of upholding the public trust as one of the fundamental bases for institutional development.

DARC’s governance program has since become a core institution building strategy and the organization has, over the past 18 years, conducted board assessments, orientation and development exercises for some of Nigeria’s leading NGOs and facilitated board development training for over 93 NGOs in Nigeria.

Governance assessment is an important first step for board development efforts and its governance assessment process offers many benefits to boards and the organizations they have oversight for.  The process affords board members opportunity to form a shared understanding of the board’s role and responsibilities; helps identify strengths of the board and opportunities to improve governance practices and/or processes; helps to strengthen or redirect the work of the board; builds team work within the board and highlights opportunities to engage board members more effectively; helps in the identification of skills gaps in board composition, as it relates to the organization’s strategic plan; models accountability to staff; and builds credibility for the organization among donors and other constituencies. The outcome, findings and key recommendations of a governance assessment exercise form the basis of a board development action plan.


The main instruments of DARC’s governance assessments are self-assessment surveys and member interviews. The five-part process also includes governance and organizational materials audit, data analysis and reporting and an outcomes meeting. The process ensures complete anonymity and confidentiality, with only the consulting team having access to   entries and other commentaries of members.