Why Today's Nonprofits Need Effective Board Management Tools | npENGAGE

Why Today’s Nonprofits Need Effective Board Management Tools

By on Nov 17, 2020

Tagged:   

digital transformation, board of directors, nptech

Have you ever wondered why board management is crucial to any organizational structure? The clear-cut answer is that board members play a vital role in the success of the organization. They’re responsible for making strategic decisions that promote the team’s work and advance them toward their mission. Overall, the prosperity and future of the organization depend upon the rationality, integrity, and engagement of board members.

As the executive director at your nonprofit, it’s your job to provide the board with the resources it needs to get work done efficiently. Instead of using several individual platforms to organize tasks for your board to act upon, your team will find the most success in investing in a dedicated board management platform that handles a range of processes.

A board management platform consolidates many of your day-to-day processes including meetings, and we’ll explore a handful of them in this guide. Specifically, we’ll cover benefits such as the ability to:

  1. Connect remotely.
  2. Conduct engaging meetings.
  3. Quickly access important materials.
  4. Communicate between meetings.
  5. Control access to information.

The right board management software can make a major difference in your board’s operations. Ready to learn more about the benefits of investing in a dedicated board portal? Let’s dive in!

Benefit #1: Connect remotely.

Right now, your team is having to adhere to social distancing regulations, interrupting your ability to meet in-person on a regular basis to discuss your initiatives. While going digital is oftentimes a choice, many nonprofit boards must do so now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some board software providers have recognized the challenge of going remote and offer dedicated tools to ease the transition to digital meetings. For instance, video conferencing abilities and integrated collaboration tools allow these individuals to continue working together without compromising their health.

However, the benefits of virtual meeting tools extend beyond the pandemic! According to Boardable’s guide to virtual board meetings, meeting virtually provides benefits like:

virtual nonprofit board meeting tips

  • Increased attendance. The ability to go remote allows more board members to attend with just a couple of clicks, instead of worrying about travel time and costs. This way, members are much more likely to set aside time to attend your meetings, which is especially helpful for boards that regularly struggle to meet quorum.
  • Greater board member diversity. Virtual meetings eliminate geographic barriers, meaning that you can have a more diverse team from around the country (or even the globe!). In turn, you’ll benefit from a range of perspectives based on different backgrounds.
  • Enhanced nonprofit governance. The availability of a secure online environment makes it easy for the chair to plan and execute virtual meetings. In turn, this allows the board to refocus their attention on governance issues that may otherwise be overlooked.

Incorporating today’s technology makes for a much more convenient and engaging virtual meeting experience—regardless of the distance. Some solutions even come with video conferencing tools that allow for the much-needed “face-to-face” element that closes the gap and promotes effective communication.

Whether you’re going fully remote or only a few members are attending remotely, virtual meeting tools can help create a much more engaging digital boardroom for many organizations.

Benefit #2: Conduct engaging meetings.

Meetings are when your board members collaborate to discuss your organization’s strategic moves. The last thing you want during these important meetings is to look around and see board members checking their emails, texting their friends, or doodling. This is where the right board management tools can make a major difference.

Having a systematic process in place for meetings will engage members, eliminate stress, and improve your nonprofit’s overall performance.

To help your board members thrive and stay fully engaged during their meetings, you’ll want to make sure they have access to features like:

  • Scheduling tools. It can be difficult finding a meeting time that works for everyone. After all, your board members lead busy lives outside of your nonprofit’s work. Scheduling tools will simplify this process by finding the time that works for the highest number of people, eliminating the frustration of having to manually coordinate everyone’s schedules!
  • Role assignments. During board meetings, everyone should be aware of what their responsibilities are to help them run smoothly. Within your board management portal, you should be able to assign duties such as designated notetaker, facilitator, and timekeeper within your board meeting agenda.
  • Polling tools will allow you to gauge opinions on everything from serious strategic decisions to more lighthearted decisions like the theme for your annual gala. Plus, your software should funnel all of the results into a dashboard, so you can quickly determine the winning option.

Empowering your team with tools like these will lead to a much more engaging and collaborative boardroom. And by hosting efficient meetings, you’ll find that board and committee members are better equipped to make necessary decisions that directly promote the health and financial sustainability of your work.

Benefit #3: Quickly access important materials.

Nonprofit boards handle and produce many documents throughout the year. With a board portal that offers document management, board members can access relevant information that’s necessary for decision-making with only a few clicks. A dedicated document center will house all of the files your board needs in one place.

Traditionally, nonprofit boards are limited to printed documents that are handed out at each meeting. However, transitioning to board software grants board members remote access to important materials like:

Materials for Nonprofit Board Meetings

  • Past meeting minutes
  • Meeting agendas
  • Committee reports
  • Financial reports
  • Committee charters
  • Audit reports

Not only is housing these important documents within one platform more efficient, but a board portal also offers a higher level of security that board members can’t match using their personal or business emails. Software like this gives administrators specific control over who has access to what information, because not every board or committee member needs to see every file.

Whether they’re in a meeting or communicating outside the boardroom, your members will appreciate being able to access documents quickly (and securely!) instead of rifling through papers or waiting until the next meeting.

Benefit #4: Communicate between meetings.

If 2020’s events have taught us anything, it’s that nonprofit boards need the ability to communicate quickly and securely to continue collaborating and strategizing regardless of any unforeseen obstacles.

Luckily, one of the major benefits of board management tools is the ability to communicate in real-time, allowing for urgent decisions to be made quickly instead of waiting for the next meeting. No need for board members to rely on lengthy email chains or to play phone tag with one another!

Today’s nonprofits reap the benefits of access to tools like discussion boards to continue communicating outside of the boardroom. Plus, this guide mentions that some board platforms even offer mobile apps, so board members don’t have to wait until they have access to a desktop. Between-meeting discussions will allow members to:

  • Prioritize the most important issues for their agendas.
  • Approve meeting minutes ahead of time using electronic signatures.
  • Discuss important topics and make timely decisions using polling tools.
  • Follow up on assigned tasks and stay on schedule.

By providing dedicated communication tools (like discussion boards and remote voting), board members gain direct access to one another. With this level of connectivity, not only will you drive more productivity between meetings, but you’ll also build rapport and improve morale.

Nonprofit boards are increasingly implementing board portals to promote growth and fulfill their duties. These platforms embrace efficiency, providing board members with the opportunity to spend less time in the boardroom and more time driving real change.

The four benefits covered in this article only scratch the surface. From cutting down on administrative costs to consolidating your board’s processes into a single system, there are plenty of other reasons why more and more organizations are turning to these solutions each day.

Regardless of why you choose to implement one of these systems, it’s important to conduct sufficient research ahead of time. That way, you’ll be able to select features that are most relevant to your needs and therefore select a platform that suits your unique nonprofit board. In no time, you’ll have a more productive, engaged, and collaborative board.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeb is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a nonprofit board management software provider. He is also the founder of two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree, as well as a board member of United Way of Central Indiana and ProAct. Jeb is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

About Boardable: 

Boardable is an online board management portal that centralizes communication, document storage, meeting planning, and everything else that goes into running a board of directors.

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