One of the greatest things about starting a new nonprofit or other type of organization is that countless organizations have already worked out many of the kinks and challenges that tend to plague start-up organizations. New boards are typically aware that they have a duty to advance the mission and they’re usually eager to move in that direction. Without the necessary tools, start-up boards are more likely to proceed with trial and error than with proven solutions.
Board portal software facilitates the normal board cycles that are inherent with every corporation — nonprofit or otherwise.
Board Portal Software Is a Good First Step in the Right Direction
Start-ups have many tasks to complete in getting established. They need to register the proper documents, pay the applicable fees, and write the Articles of Incorporation, bylaws and policies. They need to appoint the board members and set up their meetings, and nonprofit organizations need to get started with fundraising and soliciting members and donors.
A board portal provides a secure platform where board members can collaborate and communicate easily with each other. The software facilitates movement in the right direction in ways that are efficient, effective and consistent, and that reduce costs for start-up organizations with tight budgets. Boards that desire to get their boards off to a good start with the highest level of performance need to explore the many benefits that board portals offer to assist them along the way.
Board Portals Support Established Board Cycles
One of the secrets to board success is knowing that boards have three distinct cycles and understanding the tenets that each cycle includes. Boards have a meeting cycle, an annual cycle and a development cycle.
The meeting cycle includes preparing for the meeting, holding the meeting, following up after the meeting and following through on action items. Board portals cut down drastically on the amount of time that boards spend preparing for meetings.
BoardEffect’s board portal lets board administrators schedule meetings easily and electronically. Administrators can create guest lists and invite attendees right within the platform.
They can also eliminate time-consuming practices of preparing board meeting packets by attaching them together into an electronic board book. Administrators can easily create and collate a fully automated board book complete with a cover page and a meeting agenda. They can move sections around electronically as needed using the drag-and-drop feature. Board books display page numbers and helpful navigational links, so board members can locate specific documents quickly. The software program lets administrators attach multiple documents under a consent agenda for fast and easy board approval. To save even more time, the program automatically converts documents to pdf form.
BoardEffect’s board portal attaches board books to the group’s calendar so board members can download them when they log in and view the board book in real time. Once the meeting starts, the board secretary can even take attendance electronically inside the board portal’s platform.
Start-up boards can get ahead of their duties by setting up an annual calendar of events, so they don’t miss any important duties or deadlines. The calendar provided in the board portal will help boards follow through with compliance issues and best practices.
The annual cycle includes duties such as submitting annual registration, tax forms and compliance documents. The calendar will remind treasurers to prepare the budget and financial statements for regular meetings and the annual meeting. Boards must also complete an annual audit at the same time every year. The board portal offers a secure platform for storing confidential documents for the budget, audit and other processes.
Boards must hold an election for officers annually, and this will also appear on the board schedule, where board members can access it in plenty of time to prepare for it.
The portal is also a good platform to track the board’s strategic planning and achievement of goals. The board portal offers board directors a rich library of sample documents to help with financial reports, board evaluations, compliance and other governance matters.
Start-ups will inevitably go through various stages of board development. Directors will come and go as board terms come to a conclusion. The development cycle helps boards manage the processes of recruiting, nominating and appointing new board directors, as well as the continual process of succession planning.
The board portal stands as an access point to store a process for the new board director orientation process. As boards pursue their duties and responsibilities, good governance practices suggest that the board pursues board education and development. The board portal can help track the board’s progress toward gaining the individual and collective skills that they need to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
Nonprofit boards aren’t required to conduct annual self-assessments, but many boards do them to promote self-improvement and support good governance. A board portal can store the survey questions for board evaluations so that boards have a standard against which they can measure future progress.
Benefits of Using a Board Portal
BoardEffect’s board portal is intuitive and easy to use. This is a major benefit for boards that have board members who are unfamiliar with using technology. Board directors and administrators can start with easy configurations and create custom configurations as they gain familiarity with the portal.
The board portal lets board directors view documents and record their notes electronically using annotations, highlighting and freehand drawing. They can download complete versions of board books and view them online, anytime and in real time.
Security is a major issue for boards. Start-up organizations typically lack the funds to hire qualified technology experts to protect sensitive, confidential and sometimes controversial data. BoardEffect built a five-part security program into its board portal, so board directors can be assured that their data is safe. In addition, board administrators have granular control over user permissions, so they can control the level of access that all users have.
Technology and our society have taught us the benefits and convenience of being mobile. Tablets and cell phones have become staple possessions, much like our wallets. BoardEffect’s board portal makes it possible for board members to pull up their board books and conduct board business on any browser-supported software, anywhere they happen to be.
Software solutions must integrate and work together securely to meet the complex needs of boards. BoardEffect’s products integrate well with other products for a total board management solution.
Board portal software provides the benefit of developing the structure and framework for board work with which other boards have already found success. The best time to start using tried-and-true processes are right at the start.