The board of a mission-driven organization is responsible for its success today and for ensuring that it can continue to serve its constituents well into the future. Building and planning for your nonprofit’s growth and sustainability requires you and your board colleagues to focus on where you want the organization to be in five, 10, or even 20 years from now.
You can help reach these goals by future-proofing your organization. Future-proofing, writes Hardy Smith, is “anticipating challenges and opportunities that may be ahead and then taking action to prepare for what might be coming.” Future-proofing is a proactive approach that helps nonprofit boards anticipate, adapt to, and thrive in a dynamic and uncertain environment.
Organizations undergoing digital transformation by integrating digital technology into operational areas including strategy, marketing and client service have an advantage when planning for the future. They will be better able to take advantage of the support of digital tools such as board management software, which presents a transformative way to help for nonprofits to future-proof their operations and enhance their effectiveness.
“Future-proofing is anticipating challenges and opportunities that may be ahead and then taking action to prepare for what might be coming.” – Hardy Smith, nonprofit consultant and speaker
Future-Proofing with the Help of Technology
Here’s how technology tools such as board management software can aid and support the board in future-proofing their organizations:
Stakeholders, including employees, donors, vendors and volunteers, expect transparency, accountability, and results. Those expectations are only going to grow stronger. Board management software allows organizations to collaborate easily together on communications to go out to constituents.
Making this information available in different ways — emails, newsletters, texts, and through other communication channels — builds trust between your stakeholders, the public and your organization. This trust will strengthen the organization’s reputation and relationships into the future.
Creating Adaptability and Flexibility
An adaptable and flexible organization will last longer than one who relies on the status quo. Boards and staff who are comfortable using digital tools will be ready when new challenges inevitably rise up.
Board management software also helps support training for board members helping to build on the organization’s current strengths while spotting potential vulnerabilities, as well as upskilling in new areas such as cyber risk and AI.
Mission-driven organizations are part of an ecosystem that includes interconnected organizations, government agencies, and for-profit companies. Strong connections and alliances can buffer and support organizations when times are turbulent.
Board management software can assist the board and staff in building and maintaining these partnerships by providing secure virtual meeting spaces, collaboration tools and storage for key partnership information and data analysis.
Planning for Risk
Shoring up known weaknesses can increase the organization’s viability when facing as unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns, natural disasters, or pandemics. You can use your board management software to securely collect and analyze information to make decisions going forward.
Planning for Growth
Having a strong plan for growth, based on the best available information, will take your organization toward meeting its goals. Planning for strategic growth and expansion is a basic element of future-proofing.
Board management software can store planning templates, allow easy collection of board member feedback on and reactions to plans, as well as document libraries to store plans and track progress.
Keeping Up with Regulatory Requirement Changes
The regulatory environment governing nonprofits and charities changes so rapidly that boards seeking to future-proof their organization must stay on top of changes and ensure that they comply with legal requirements and regulations.
Store training information and easily searchable information on current rules and regulations in your board management solution.
Determining Who Will Lead in the Future
Succession planning is a way to future-proof your board. It ensures that future leaders of the organization are well-suited and prepared for their leadership role. Leadership stability puts the organization in a strong position to weather unforeseen changes and challenges.
You can create and use templates in your board management software to analyze what qualities future leaders will need and who would best serve the organization.
Tips for Choosing Your Board Management Software Partner
Digital tools such as board management software are essential to help your board and organization prepare for what’s ahead and to ensure that your organization will be fulfilling its mission many years from now.
Here are some things to consider as you choose your future-proofing technology partner:
- Commitment to Innovation: Look for a partner that demonstrates a commitment to continuous innovation. Software that evolves with technological advancements and integrates new features or functionalities can help future-proof your operations.
- Adaptability to Change: Choose a software partner that embraces adaptability and flexibility. The software should readily adjust to changing regulations, governance practices, and constituent needs.
- Customization Options: Prioritize software that allows customization to suit your organization’s evolving requirements. The ability to tailor features and workflows ensures alignment with future strategies.
- Advanced Security Measures: Nonprofits are especially vulnerable to security breaches. Prioritize software with advanced cybersecurity measures. Your board should be able to use the software to help audit, identify, assess and enact your risk management plan.
- Comprehensive Training: Ensure the software partner offers comprehensive training programs and ongoing support. Empowering users with the necessary skills and knowledge maximizes the software’s benefits for your organization.
- Long-term Relationship: Aim for a partnership that extends beyond the initial software implementation. A reliable partner invested in your organization’s success provides continuous support and assistance as needs evolve.
- Feedback and Collaboration: A collaborative approach ensures that the software aligns with your long-term goals and remains relevant.
- Adherence to Changing Regulations: Ensure the software partner stays updated with regulatory changes affecting nonprofits. Compliance with evolving legal frameworks mitigates risks.
- Ethical Data Usage: Choose a partner committed to ethical data usage and privacy standards. Following ethical data guidelines builds trust among constituents and longevity.
Leveraging board management software empowers boards of mission-driven organizations to overcome operational hurdles, foster collaboration, and make informed decisions — all critical elements for future-proofing in an ever-evolving landscape. By embracing technology and adopting innovative solutions, volunteer boards can navigate the complexities facing them more efficiently, ultimately amplifying their impact on the communities they serve.
BoardEffect is designed with the unique needs of volunteer boards in mind. Our nonprofit board management software streamlines board processes, enhances and delivers secure communication, helping you to become an efficient and effective board as you discuss, tackle and take action on future-proofing for your organization.