In March 2012, BoardEffect published a research report titled “U.S. Laws Governing Nonprofit Boards and Electronic Voting.” The intent was to determine and demystify the legal parameters within which a board could use board portal technology to manage its voting procedures. And it was a huge hit; more than four years later, we continue to see surprisingly widespread usage of the report.
Last week, in response to this sustained demand and to a sharp rise in related questions that have accompanied increasing adoption of board portals, BoardEffect updated and greatly expanded that report. In addition to online voting, the June 2016 version of “Nonprofit Laws: Board Rules and Regulations” addresses such topics as quorum, term limits, conflict of interest and many others. The report encompasses thirteen topic areas, clearly an important advancement to the original voting study. But expanded substance is only one of the report’s improvements. Arguably, the report’s most innovative enhancement relates to its form and format; and the purpose of this post it to explain how best to take advantage of it.
- This report is not meant to be read cover-to-cover; busy nonprofit board professionals simply don’t have the time to invest in reading lengthy tomes. Rather, the report is intended to serve as a field guide or quick reference for those seeking to understand the laws that are most relevant to them and their situation. For instance:
- Some nonprofits operate in a single state; and professionals responsible for such boards may only be interested in that state’s specific statutes. In such a case, with a single click, a user can access a summary of a specific state’s laws across these thirteen legal topic areas.
- Conversely, someone may have a question about a given legal concept and seek to get a broader perspective about the range of laws implemented on that topic across all 50 US states (plus the District of Columbia). Again, with a click, a user of this report is presented with a color-coded map that lays out the landscape of the various laws across the United States.
- For the more analytical user, the report provides pie-charts to enable comparison of one’s own state’s laws versus the range of approaches adopted by other states.
- Finally, for the most rigorous researchers among us, this study allows users to “drill-down” to go beyond legal summaries and access the actual legal codes themselves.
In short, this study is undeniably broader than its predecessor. But so too is it deeper, more analytical, and easier to navigate. We hope that board professionals of all kinds find it to be a valuable tool that saves time and raises awareness regarding the increasingly complex environment of managing the work of nonprofit boards.