What do board members need to be effective? Access to each other, to governance documents, and to information needed to make decisions. What they don’t need is another stack of paper to carry around and throw away. Here are five ways to enhance board productivity with less paper waste.
Those massive board books. Stacks of financial reports. They are not only wasteful and expensive; they are difficult for board members to keep at hand. If your board members use laptops, tablets, or smartphones, then PDF files may the best way to provide them with board documents and reports. (It’s easy to convert Word and Excel files to simple PDF versions using the Print function.)
Stop scheduling meetings by phone or email. Free versions of Doodle make it easy to find times in busy schedules when people can meet. The host simply sends a message with a link to an online form that shows all the possible meeting times. Individuals then respond by checking off the dates and times that work for them. Once everyone has responded, the host reviews the chart to find the times when all (or most) can meet. Easy.
No need to snail-mail board meeting documents – or send emails with multiple attachments. Set up an online file cabinet using Dropbox or Box. Board members then have secure access to all the documents for the meeting from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Tools like Google Drive allow boards to collaborate on documents by creating and editing items online. These tools offer security, audit trails, and access across multiple platforms.
Another useful application of online access is for voting and surveys. It takes only a few minutes to set up a ballot in Google Drive or Survey Monkey to that allows the board to vote quickly and securely with a record of who voted and how. It is also easy to use this tool for surveys with signed or anonymous responses. This is particularly useful for meeting evaluations.
It is possible to bundle all of these functions and many more using a board portal. Web developers can create a custom portal as a private section of your organization’s website. There are also third-party board portals like BoardMax and BoardEffect. These offer a full range of services to make nonprofit board administration easier. BoardMax Portal is an excellent entry-level portal that is affordable for the small boards it is designed to serve.
Be sure to check your state statutes for those that govern how nonprofit organizations use the telephone, email, and digital media to make decisions and share information.
10 Minute Board Discussion
What’s the best way to give our board members access to each other and to necessary information?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto user peterglanville.
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