Nonprofit boards are not as heavily regulated as public companies; however, they have many of the same expectations for governance as public and private corporations. Moving from manual board management to an electronic board portal streamlines many of the board director responsibilities. Efficiency in nonprofit organizations is a valuable commodity because board directors are usually volunteers. Board portals allow directors to conduct much of their board work between meetings, so they can place a greater focus on fundraising efforts.
Board portals can aid in fundraising, tracking funds and creating reports, which are assets in seeking grants and donors. Donors always appreciate working with nonprofits that have a strong reputation for transparency and accountability. Nonprofits with great reputations usually reap the rewards of higher donations.
Multipurpose Board Portal or Nonprofit Board Portal Software?
Perhaps you’re checking out one of the many spinoff board portals with a trend toward specific industries. It’s important to consider whether industry-specific portals offer all of the features that boards need to function effectively. Be wary of free portals that make lofty promises. As a rule, you get what you pay for. More importantly, free products won’t come with the level of security that today’s boards need to protect against hackers.
Full-featured board portals that work just as well for public, private, government and nonprofit boards are usually a good choice. They can usually boast of a wide range of clients of public, private and nonprofit companies that are willing to provide a positive testimonial.
Nonprofit Board Portals Enhance Governance
How great would it be if a board portal made meeting planning easier? Would it make you happy if conducting board business took minutes instead of days? Of course, those are rhetorical questions. The faster and easier your board can manage routine business, the more time becomes available for fundraising.
A board portal is a dedicated space where board directors can log in and communicate and collaborate with other board directors on a safe and secure platform. There’s a shared calendar where directors can review each other’s availability.
The portal allows you to file and retrieve documents, including agendas, minutes, financial reports, committee reports, bylaws and other important documents, in a special place that is accessible only to those who need them. Many of the portals allow directors to share their notes and make comments directly onto documents. When you need a signature and the board chair isn’t easily accessible, the e-signature feature makes getting documents signed fast and easy.
Some board portals also have a feature where the portal will translate the data into many other languages. It’s an awesome feature if your nonprofit has a global interest.
Wouldn’t it be great to distribute and collect board self-evaluations completely online? With a board portal, you can.
Board Portals Are the Best Tool for Accurate Financial Reporting
Nonprofit organizations don’t have to pay taxes, but they do have to keep accurate accounting records. Board portals provide electronic folders for storing and archiving financial reports. Some portals provide a format for recording approved budgets.
That way, when grant-makers, donors, members, or other stakeholders request financial reports, board members can easily retrieve them from the portal.
Board Portals Organize and Monitor Committee Work
Nonprofit boards usually have more committees than other types of corporations. Board members are usually volunteers, so much of their work is performed in committees to save valuable board time. There may be a nominating committee, governance committee, fundraising committee, research committee, public relations committee, executive committee, or other types of committees.
Committee members can work together in a virtual conference room, sharing documents and reports as they go. Portals usually have a function where an administrator can restrict permissions to certain areas of the portal. This feature keeps committee work in the committee until the members are ready to release their report to the board. Communication via internal chat is much easier than waiting for other directors to retrieve and follow up on email correspondence.
Officers usually have access to committee spaces on the portal, making it easier for them to track the committee’s progress and help to keep things moving along.
Board Portals Track Fundraising Efforts
There’s no dispute that nonprofit boards spend the bulk of their time doing fundraising activities. Board portals for nonprofit organizations can aid in many of those activities. Whether it’s providing a forum for accepting donations, matching donations, or managing social giving, raffles or auctions, the portal automates much of the work for you.
Customer service and training are usually free, so why not take advantage of the training to help maximize your fundraising efforts. The portal may position your organization well to start raising the limits on your fundraising goals.
Board Portals Resolve Security Issues
Every industry is at risk of data breaches by cyber attackers, including nonprofit organizations. According to the Urban Institute, the National Center for Charitable Statistics was hacked, allowing cyber-attackers to access annual reports by nonprofits to the IRS in 2015. Nonprofit organizations collect information that hackers find valuable, including the personal information of the membership, tax information and private information about donors.
Part of what you pay for with a board portal is robust security features, including extra encryption and other security enhancements. Some board portal software products also include a process for digital shredding if information gets into the wrong hands.
Every Nonprofit With an Eye on the Future Needs a Board Portal
Most likely, your board has developed short- and long-term plans. Do you know what features your board might find helpful in the future? Look for a board portal company that is innovative enough to provide some answers to that question. The board portal company that you select should be able to provide updates as new features and security measures become available. Good board portal software products should help you stay on the cutting edge of nonprofit work, rather than leave you at the back of the pack.
Final Thoughts About Portals in Relation to Nonprofit Performance Improvement
Sustainability is a major issue for nonprofits. In today’s nonprofit arena, it would be hard to stay ahead of the competition for funds with other nonprofits without a board portal. Why not give your board the advantage?
There is an added cost of using a board portal, but think of the time it would save that could be spent on fundraising. Fundraising will be easier to track and manage with a board portal. Even if a board isn’t found to be neglectful in the event of a data breach, the organization can still be sued. Board portals provide the level of security that today’s boards need. Because of the impact to your nonprofit’s budget, you’ll want to get a board portal that offers the best value for your investment. Do your homework and make the choice of a board portal that serves your organization now and into the future.