skip to Main Content
Digital Best Practices For Volunteer Boards

Leveraging Tech for Smart Governance: Digital Best Practices for Volunteer Boards


Nonprofit organizations, particularly smaller ones, have historically faced challenges in embracing digital transformation, often due to limited funding and other complexities. However, there is a notable shift as charity and nonprofit leaders increasingly recognize the value of digital solutions.

Today, there’s a growing trend among nonprofits, as organizations leverage technology not only to enhance operational efficiency, but also to facilitate meaningful interactions with donors and volunteers. This transformation is empowering nonprofits to amplify their impact and catch up with the digital advancements that have long been integral to for-profit businesses.

Effective digital governance ensures the security, transparency and efficiency of board processes. It safeguards sensitive data, enhances communication and streamlines decision-making. Embracing these best practices empowers volunteer boards to harness the full potential of digital tools, fostering agility, innovation and ultimately, amplifying their positive impact on the communities they serve.

What Is Digital Governance?

Digital governance is a structure that helps to establish accountability, roles, and decision-making authority for an organization’s digital presence. It involves the rules, processes, values, infrastructure, and supports that steer how digital tools and services help to create value for nonprofits. Digital governance also includes a set of guiding principles and performance objectives.

Digital governance should be in place for your websites, mobile sites, social media outlets, internet presence, and products and services your organization promotes on the internet. It also covers digital tools, apps, and your board management solution. Digital governance assigns clear accountability for managing or overseeing digital tools and processes.

What is a Digital Governance Policy? 

A digital governance policy is a set of written statements that guide how your organization manages risks and ensure that those involved in digital processes don’t deviate from the organization’s mission or other core values related to the organization’s online presence. It also sets the standards for the organization’s online presence, including digital quality and effectiveness.

Your mission-driven organization’s digital policy should cover all internet-based activities along with the acceptable standards for what the organization allows and disallows on the internet.

The Purpose of Digital Governance

Digital governance serves two purposes.

  1. First, it ensures that the organization is performing digital activities ethically. By ensuring ethical behavior, you can prevent lawsuits and other legal problems. So digital governance may also protect your nonprofit’s reputation.
  2. Second, failing to think through and put proper processes in place for digital governance may end up inhibiting growth and change. Digital governance helps to keep organizations agile, nimble, and adaptable, which is necessary in today’s age of evolution and disruption. A focus on digital governance will also help streamline and support digital development.

Best Practices for a Digital Governance Team

Technology expertise is now a key criterion for many incoming board directors. Many organizations are now also hiring a CISO or CTO to fulfill their need for IT expertise. Others prefer to delegate IT issues to a technology or data governance committee.

Boards must have sufficient technical knowledge to oversee risks, disruptions, opportunities, complex digital transformations, and a technology budget. Tech-savvy organizations can help drive growth, manage risks effectively, and optimize services. By storing training materials on your board management software, you can easily facilitate training and upskilling for existing board members to bring their technology expertise up to date.

It’s also necessary for boards to ensure that their IT teams are aligned with the organization’s mission and strategic plan, as well as with other stakeholders in the organization.

Best Practices for Digital Governance for Mission-Driven Organizations

Mission-driven boards benefit by understanding the basic best practices for digital governance and adjusting them as they continue to evolve in the future.

Here are some best practices for digital governance in mission-driven organizations for your next board discussion:

  • Ethical Digital Strategy: Establish a policy that follows the CAN-SPAM laws. For example, give your audience the chance to opt in or opt out of correspondence, and honor their preferences expediently. Be sure your headlines and other content are transparent, so your audience knows why you’re contacting them.
  • Clear Policies and Guidelines: Devise policies that are clear and easily understood. Make clear that digital practices that may be unintentionally misleading, dishonest, or exaggerated should be avoided. Policies may be stored in your board management system where they are accessible for all who need them.
  • Cross-Functional Governance : Draw from various facets of the organization to create a cross-functional governance team, including marketing, grantmaking, volunteers, and staff as they will provide different perspectives. BoardEffect features private virtual workrooms where all participants can collaborate and communicate.
  • Data Management and Privacy: Require users to use strong passwords and not share them with others. BoardEffect offers granular permissions that allow you to grant access to documents or workspaces only to people who need them.
  • User-Centric Website and Accessibility: Designate someone to evaluate your website to ensure users can easily read the content. Choose fonts and colors that are clearly legible. Optimize your site for mobile devices. Simplify navigation so your website is intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • Regular Training and Capacity Building: Use the polls and survey tools in your board management system to identify areas where board members need training. Consider incorporating board education. For example, board members can earn certifications in AI and cyber risk from the Diligent Institute.
  • Content Governance: Clearly define your target audience and create value for them. Consider the perspectives of diversity, inclusion, and ESG in online content, in addition to SEO, to appeal to a broad audience.
  • Social Media Management: Be transparent and truthful in stories, and do not exaggerate follower counts or use fake testimonials. Respect people’s privacy when storytelling. For example, do not share their personal information or photos without their consent. Use inclusive images and language.
  • Regular Audits and Assessments: Designate a person or team to perform regular audits and assessments on digital processes. Audits should evaluate where data comes from, where it exists on the internet, and whom it’s being shared with.
  • Cybersecurity Measures: Keep your software and anti-virus programs up to date and back up your data. Educate the board, staff, and volunteers on the importance of locking their mobile devices when not in use, not clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited communications, and only installing trusted apps. Communications on your board management system should all be secure to keep sensitive board documents safe.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Require board members and others to keep all collaborations and communications for the organization strictly within their board management system, rather than sharing by email or file-sharing tools that can be insecure.

Effective Digital Governance Supported by Technology

BoardEffect was designed to ensure your board is consistently using the best practices in digital governance .

BoardEffect is a fully contained, secure management system where boards can communicate and collaborate securely with each other as they fulfill their board duties. It provides all the tools and features board members need to onboard members and everboard them . Having access to the right tools within one system will support your board by enhancing efficiency, consistency, transparency, and accountability.

BoardEffect is highly secure and provides the structure and framework for effective digital governance. Board members can access a resource library with templates and documents to help them carry out their board duties as effectively and efficiently as possible.

See how BoardEffect, a Diligent Brand, can help support you as a digital board in a digital age. Request a demo today.

Back To Top
PHP Code Snippets Powered By :