In many ways, nonprofits operate much like corporate boards, but there are some important differences. Nonprofits have unique compliance rules and other operating rules. One of the ways that they’re similar is that nonprofit board directors are under just as much scrutiny as other board directors. In addition, nonprofit board directors have important fundraising duties. They have to perform all of their duties responsibly, often doing so with tighter financial restraints than their for-profit counterparts. Because nonprofit board directors are usually volunteers, they typically form more committees than for-profit boards and delegate some of their work to them.
Nonprofit boards must consider all of these things and more when considering investing in board portal software for nonprofits.
The Unique Needs of Nonprofit Organization Technology
Board portal software has been developing over the last decade or so. There are now many choices for board portal software for nonprofit and other organizations, each with aa variety of features and price ranges.
Just as every company is unique, nonprofits are each unique in their own right. Because of each nonprofit’s unique needs and the fact that board portal software is an investment in the organization’s future sustainability, it’s wise for nonprofit boards to consider the full gamut of board software before making a final decision. The funds to pay for the system will come from donors, members, or other supporters. They will appreciate that the board did its due diligence before making a final decision.
Do Some Preliminary Research so You Have the Right Questions to Ask
The process of purchasing and implementing board management software will go easier if boards take the time to do some preliminary research and become familiar with what it does so they can ask the most informative questions from the start.
For example, most board software solutions are cloud-based, but that doesn’t necessarily ensure that your data will be safe. You’ll want to ask plenty of questions about shared servers and other security measures. As another example, it’s important to ask about the level of security as your documents are being transferred to the cloud and also while documents are stationary.
Software providers should be able to inform your board about features their product provides that are especially helpful for nonprofit organizations.
Be cautious about companies that promote free board management programs for nonprofit organizations. You may stumble across some free programs only to find that they’re fairly useless unless you agree to purchase other features and programs from the company separately. Costs can add up quickly when crafting together an a la carte system.
Consider board management solutions that were designed for for-profit and nonprofit organizations, so that you can make a fully informed decision based on the current offerings.
A major concern for nonprofit organizations is cybersecurity. Is the software provider that you’re considering aware of the cyber risks that affect nonprofits? Be sure to choose a board management software provider like BoardEffect that places a high priority on security. Hackers are working around the clock to steal your sensitive and private information. Nonprofit organizations are becoming more heavily targeted for cyberattacks. According to the Urban Institute, the National Center for Charitable Statistics was hacked and information about annual reports by nonprofits to the IRS was stolen in 2015.
Certain nonprofits are at a heightened risk for cybercrime. Nonprofits that collect medical and healthcare information that get hacked could compromise sensitive medical records. A subsequent result of that would be that the organization’s reputation would also be negatively impacted.
Be mindful that as digital technology advances, criminals are also ramping up technology on their end. Be sure to select a board portal provider who is proactive and knowledgeable about its security measures.
Do you know what the software provider’s experience, tenure, and reputation are within the industry? It’s a good idea to ask whether the company has received any rewards or if they’ve been recognized for customer service or other stellar service. Look for a software service provider that has at least 10 years in the business or more. Software providers should have a wide range of clients in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
Ask if they can provide you with copies of customer reviews and customer testimonies that will assure you that you’re getting a reputable board portal system. Be leery of just-launched vendors that haven’t fully tested their products in the real world.
Inquire about how the software vendor handles updates and different languages. Do they have advanced features like e-signatures, voting, questionnaires, note sharing, document libraries, and digital shredding? Is the vendor currently involved in the business of sharing insights on corporate governance and moving your industry forward?
Pros and Cons of Board Software for Nonprofits
Board management software solutions provide many valuable benefits for nonprofit organizations. Imagine how much less worry you could have if you knew that you could send messages and documents to your fellow board directors, managers, and other leaders without worry over having the information stolen or compromised. With BoardEffect’s system, you get the ability to set user permissions granularly.
BoardEffect will allow you to reduce your board meeting planning time from weeks to hours and streamline the processes for your agenda and meeting minutes. Your board members will arrive at board meetings having fully prepared because they’ll have the benefit of getting updates in real-time. When you’ve done your research, it will be easy to see that you’ll also have the benefit of working with an industry leader that continues to provide technical updates and new innovations.
There are only a few downsides to board software programs. Nearly all of them can be easily offset be getting a quality board management software provider like BoardEffect.
Bear in mind that all of your board members, managers, and some other personnel will need to be trained to use the software. Low-end or free programs may lack security putting your board, volunteers, members, and donors at risk. There is always a risk of leaders communicating outside a secure platform. It’s vital to train software users on cybersecurity. Be sure that the software is user-friendly and intuitive. Finally, pass by subpar systems which will certainly become outdated over time.