By Jonathan Arehart, Founder of BoardSite — a board of directors management platform that centralizes key administrative tasks like meeting scheduling, document management, and online voting in a secure digital platform.
Between coordinating busy schedules and deciding on agenda items, it’s often difficult for nonprofit boards to be truly productive. BoardSite is a unique digital platform that helps nonprofit boards of directors stay organized, compliant, and engaged.
BoardSite’s features are designed specifically with nonprofits in mind. The platform streamlines important processes like onboarding, voting, and creating agendas, so you’ll have more time to discuss the issues that really matter. Here’s how board portal software like BoardSite can help your nonprofit’s board be more productive and successful and follow good governance practices.
5 Productivity Challenges for Board Members
Nonprofit boards face a variety of challenges that impact their overall productivity. When your board can’t work to the best of their ability, it holds your entire organization back from reaching its true potential. Acknowledging these problems is the first step to improving your board’s operations and processes. Here are some of the biggest productivity challenges that board members face.
1) Difficulty coordinating schedules
One of the biggest challenges for any board is managing the directors’ busy schedules. Many of today’s nonprofits have remote or hybrid work setups, which means that directors are likely to be working in different time zones or locations. Flexible work schedules have also become the norm over the past few years, so even if your directors are in the same time zone, they may not work the same hours.
Additionally, many board directors are successful professionals with very busy schedules. They are likely to be juggling a variety of professional obligations in addition to family life and other interests outside of work.
These factors make it very difficult to schedule board meetings, which are necessary for productivity. It becomes particularly difficult when you have a large board and are trying to coordinate dozens of schedules that are constantly shifting.
The process of onboarding new directors can also hold your board back from being truly productive. It takes time to get new members up to speed on your organization’s goals, challenges, and communication styles, especially if your operations are disorganized.
The onboarding process often requires group or one-on-one meetings, and new members typically need to read a variety of written material as well. These steps are necessary to ensure that your entire team is on the same page, but if they’re not done efficiently, it can hold your board back from being truly productive.
Your directors’ busy schedules don’t just limit your ability to schedule meetings. Busy schedules also make it difficult for your directors to stay engaged with key tasks between meetings. This is particularly difficult if you’re communicating entirely via email, as they’ll have to juggle several different threads just to keep up. Any sort of confusion among your board members limits their ability to get key tasks done and can put you behind schedule.
Nonprofit boards have to adhere to comply with a variety of regulations from federal and state governments. Compliance is extremely important for your board’s reputation and success, especially when it comes to your finances.
However, compliance and government regulations can also be very confusing, especially if you don’t have support from teams within your organization who are better equipped to handle it. It’s easy to get bogged down managing compliance issues and keeping records organized rather than moving forward.
5) Lack of agenda and planning
Because of the busy schedules that board members have, it can be difficult to adequately plan meetings before they happen. When you don’t have time to make a meeting agenda beforehand, the conversation can quickly get sidetracked and devolve into casual or irrelevant conversation. Without an agenda, it’s also very easy for one or two people to dominate the meeting, which means that not everyone will get a chance to share their ideas. An agenda ensures that the meeting stays on track and that all key topics get covered.
How BoardSite Increases Productivity for Nonprofit Boards
Incorporating technology into your board’s workflow is the best way to tackle these productivity challenges head-on. BoardSite is a comprehensive platform designed specifically for boards. It facilitates straightforward communication between board members, helps you keep documents organized, and more, similar to a traditional board books.
By using BoardSite, you’ll save time, resulting in more productive meetings as well as directors who are more engaged on a day-to-day basis. Here are some of the ways that BoardSite increases productivity for nonprofits.
1) Streamlines scheduling
Scheduling meetings is a major challenge for busy board members. BoardSite takes the guesswork out sharing a meeting schedule, whether it’s one-on-one, a committee meeting, or a gathering of the entire board. Members can view their calendars and see what meetings they need to attend directly on the app. Since your board’s schedule and availability is accessible directly in the app, there’s no confusion about meeting times and members can plan ahead.
2) Keeps important documents organized
With board portal software, you no longer have to waste time emailing back and forth to find important board materials. Your agenda and minutes from each meeting are automatically archived, so board members can easily reference them at any time. Your members can also upload any other relevant documents to the platform to keep them all in one place.
This reduces unnecessary back-and-forth so your directors can get their jobs done faster. Storing key documents in one place keeps your board members on the same page. It also makes compliance much easier and holds your board accountable when necessary.
2) Encourages communication and engagement
A board portal facilitates secure digital communication and engagement among your board members between meetings. Collaboration is often necessary for your board to accomplish important tasks, but it’s easy for emails and Slack messages to get lost in the shuffle.
When your directors are juggling busy schedules, they’re also more likely to let board duties fall by the wayside. If you’re not communicating regularly, board duties end up out of sight, out of mind. This means you’ll have to spend more time getting up to speed in your meetings, rather than jumping right into key agenda items.
With a board portal, you have every board member’s contact information available right at your fingertips. This makes it easy to send messages whenever you need to get in touch. You’ll also receive regular notifications about meetings, key documents, and easily access meeting materials. With simple, straightforward communication options, your board members are more likely to stay engaged, even between meetings.
3) Makes board meeting planning simpler
Planning a successful board or committee meeting is often an arduous and time-consuming process. You don’t want to waste precious time, so you’ll need to work hard to keep your meeting on track. Before the meeting happens, you’ll need to get input from all of your members on key agenda items and make a schedule. This requires back-and-forth with your board members and staff to get everything finalized.
Creating a meeting agenda is a big challenge, but sticking to that agenda can be even more difficult. If you get off track at any point during the meeting, you may not get through your key meeting agenda items. This sets your progress back, and you may even have to schedule additional meetings to catch up.
In a board portal, an agenda and minutes builder makes it easy to create a comprehensive agenda before each board or committee meeting starts. Your directors can vote on agenda items ahead of time, ensuring that every board member has a chance to provide input. During the meeting, all members will be able to view board documents and the agenda as you move through each item. They can also participate in live votes if you’d like. You can also attach key documents to each agenda item. This keeps your board meetings on track and prevents confusion during the discussion.
The BoardSite board portal can also help streamline your in-person board meetings. Each member can reference the agenda and minutes directly through the app during the conversation using a meeting viewer, helping you stay on track. Using a board portal during your in-person meetings also ensures that there is a digital record of your minutes and any relevant documents used during that time.
4) Speeds up onboarding
The BoardSite board portal also makes it easy to get new members of your board up to speed without wasting any time. A fast onboarding process means that new board members can start working right away without getting bogged down in red tape.
Once your new board members are set up on BoardSite, they’ll have access to every board member’s contact information, which makes it easy for them to hit the ground running. Additionally, they’ll be able to review key documents directly in the board portal, including minutes from previous board meetings. They also can access any relevant committees they are a member of. This reduces the need for introductory meetings, as it allows new board members to catch up on their own.
5) Facilitates secure online voting
One of the most challenging parts of running a remote board meeting is voting on important issues. Many boards use email votes, which are difficult to compile and aren’t provide no security or records. Using a software program to manage your voting helps the entire process run more smoothly.
With BoardSite’s online voting feature, it takes just a few minutes to conduct important votes. Each member can vote directly in the BoardSite board portal with just a few clicks. This feature is also very helpful for compliance, as you’ll have a detailed record of each vote and the date and time it was made. You’ll be able to share vote records securely with key stakeholders at any time.
6) Ensures security and compliance
As previously mentioned, security and compliance are key for any nonprofit organization. If you’re stuck trying to solve complex security problems or handle a compliance crisis, your board isn’t going to make progress with your goals. Boards who don’t use cybersecurity best practices in their communication are vulnerable to hackers and other cyber criminals. Additionally, poor security and compliance practices could damage your organization’s reputation.
BoardSite’s board portal software is designed with security and compliance in mind. This will give your leadership necessary peace of mind while also fostering productivity. A board portal should support industry standards like two factor authentication and audit logging.
7) Encourages efficient committee work
Many boards get most of their work done in committees rather than all-hands meetings. BoardSite facilitates simple and efficient communication between committee members. The platform allows you to create a dedicated page for each committee. Within this page, you’ll have access to all of BoardSite’s features, so you can send committee-only documents, conduct votes, and schedule committee meetings.
BoardSite’s committee pages are completely secure and are only available to authorized members. Committee chairs and staff can delegate tasks and approve new members directly from the platform. Committee members can access all committee documents and materials in one central location.
Increase Your Productivity with BoardSite
Running a nonprofit can be very time consuming and taxing on staff – they often have limited resources to tackle a variety of complex problems. However, nonprofits are also an integral part of our society. Any steps you take to increase your board’s productivity will have positive ripple effects throughout your organization.
The BoardSite board portal is a great way to help your board be more productive and organized, both during meetings and in between meetings. Streamlined communication, secure voting procedures, and digital document management all help your board get more done with less time.