Simplify board management in 2021
Through our work with over 100 small and medium-sized nonprofits, my partner Christine Deska and I have identified one trait common to almost every organization:
Executive directors and key staff are struggling to keep their board members engaged, spending unnecessary time involved with repetitive tasks, and efficiently disseminating information to board members.
Board portals are designed to specifically address these challenges.
We also realized that several of the existing board portals on the market were priced outside the available budget for small and medium sized nonprofits. As a result, we saw an opportunity to help and created the board management solution BellesBoard.
Implementing a board portal has a direct impact on the bottom line. In fact, our research has shown that a board portal can easily save a nonprofit organization in excess of $9,000 annually in recovered staff time. This time can then be redirected to other activities such as fundraising, event management, and getting more done with less outside resources.
In order to accomplish such a beneficial goal, a board portal should meet four criteria: The portal should be 1) full featured, 2) affordable, 3) easy to implement and 4) easy to use. This article will address each of these criteria in more detail.
A board portal should be full-featured
Nonprofits today are constantly being asked to do more with less. That is why organizations invest in board management software that will eliminate repetitive tasks, increase collaboration and improve efficiency.
To the extent possible, an organization should avoid compromise when selecting a board management solution. Why? Because they want to avoid the additional cost that will be required as a result of outgrowing their initial solution and having to upgrade to a more robust solution down the road.
A board portal vendor should also have a history of continuous innovation. For example, the board portal should also contain a mobile app so that board members have access to relevant information 24/7 on a smartphone or tablet.
A board portal should be affordable
The National Center for Charitable Statistics lists more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. According to GuideStar, the vast majority of these nonprofits are small, grassroots organizations.
These organizations tend to be underserved when it comes to technology. Budgets are stretched and every dollar counts. If your organization fits this demographic, ask your board portal vendor if they can provide a net return on investment (ROI) analysis that will estimate the annual savings that can be achieved after deducting the cost of the portal.
A board portal should be easy to implement
One of the common stumbling blocks that organizations encounter is getting started! As we said earlier, organizations today need to do more with less.
Having invested the time to find a solution to accomplish that goal, and having made the selection, they now must find the time to enter their meetings, governance material and documents, committee and board rosters, financial and program metrics, and related tasks. This is where things often bog down.
The sooner your organization can begin to realize the benefits of a board portal, the more likely they will achieve the savings that can be achieved by eliminating repetitive tasks, increasing collaboration and improving efficiency.
A board portal should be easy to use
Board members are busy people. For the most part, they do not engage with board-related information on a regular basis. When they do, it is imperative that they can get to the information they need easily and quickly.
Board engagement suffers if board members are asking questions such as “Where are the by-laws?”, “When is the next committee meeting?”, and “What is Mary’s contact information?” Even more disruptive is if they must call or email staff members to get the answers.
A board portal puts all this information literally at one’s finger tips. Board engagement is directly related to how easily and quickly these questions and more are answered.
When choosing a board portal solution for your organization, here are four criteria you should consider. The board portal should be
• Easy to implement; and
• Easy to use
The result will be that board activity will be easier to manage, more cost effective and your board members will better ambassadors for your organization.
Our customers tell us that BellesBoard hits the mark on all four criteria. Feel free to contact me to learn more about BellesBoard or to arrange a brief demonstration.
Nonprofit Sector Strategies, PBC