Much of what happens in board meetings is routine. There simply isn’t time to commit to all the legwork that needs to be done in each committee. It’s not necessary for all board members to be involved in all the details of every task, but it is important that they be informed of what is happening in committees and be provided an opportunity to ask questions about it before their work proceeds too far.
It’s important for the executive director, board officers and committee chairs to ensure that their board reports are professionally written. They will become part of the board’s official record of the meeting. This is also a good reason to make sure that board and committee reports have a standard board report structure, and a nonprofit board report template provides a good outline for everyone to follow.
Board management software programs provide many ways to cut costs and improve efficiency for nonprofit boards. One of the many benefits of BoardEffect software is that it provides unlimited electronic storage for nonprofit board report templates and other documents. The platform has granular permissions so board administrators can set up the system in order that anyone who needs access to a board report template can download it any time of day or night, from any location and using any electronic mobile device. Once reports are completed, they will also be stored safely in the cloud with the rest of the official board business.
Board Report Template
Here is a basic template for a board report:
August 12, 2019
ABC Nonprofit Organization
Fundraising Committee Report
OPENING (provide a short introduction to the rest of the report)
SUMMARY (provide an overview of the committee’s work, include a status if appropriate, give an update on timelines and provide an explanation if the timeline is past due, include any problems you encountered, add highlights, thank committee members, pose a question if necessary, use bullet points where applicable for succinctness)
Don’t forget that your board report will become an official record of your nonprofit’s board business. Professionalism counts! Be sure to check your spelling, grammar and sentence structure. Always proofread your report or ask someone to do it for you. Keep your report informative but be as concise as possible. No one likes to read boring board reports!
Are Board Reports that Important?
Board reports are very important documents for a number of reasons. Board directors for nonprofits usually serve as volunteers, but they have all the same fiduciary duties and responsibilities as any other board director. It’s vital they document their work to demonstrate that they’re giving their position due diligence and the time commitment it requires.
A well-written board report gives the rest of the board an opportunity to learn about things that have transpired since the previous board meeting. As it pertains to the executive director’s report, a board report provides an overview of all committees and other work and developments that have transpired within the organization. Nonprofit board committees use reports to provide the rest of the board with an update on the details of what they’re working on and the progress they’ve made toward their goals.
Besides providing the board with updated information, board reports and committee reports give the other board members an opportunity to form questions to ask at the full board meeting. Questions will set the stage for board discussions and renew interest in what the committee is working on. Having the chance to get a visual picture of the progress that committees are making should also incite some degree of enthusiasm with everyone.
When board directors get reports a week or two before the meeting, it also serves as a reminder for them to follow up on action items that they agreed to be responsible for at the previous meeting. Sometimes they forget or put things off and it gives them a chance to work quickly to prepare for the board meeting.
While all these things are important, board reports are significant for one more important reason. Board directors can use the information contained in the reports to spread the word about the wonderful work that the nonprofit is doing. Board directors can take key stories from the reports to incite enthusiasm for their work, which will increase their reputation and set the stage for future donations.
Writing a Board Report
Board reports should consist of an opening, summary and closing. The summary should offer some context to the content as a frame of reference. It should detail the most important activities and provide some food for thought for the rest of the board. It’s also nice to include a note of appreciation for members who worked hard to produce the information or progress detailed in the report. Thank them for the time they commit to the organization (they could all choose to be doing something else). They’re sure to take pride in the fact that a report highlighted their efforts.
Use the opening to draw in the reader and inspire them to read the rest of the report. If you can, tell a story about the real people your organization is helping. State the name of the committee or person who wrote the report and give it a title so that it will be easy to find once it’s been filed away.
The executive director’s report should tell what to look for in the other reports. Some reports will naturally be shorter than others, so don’t feel the need to be overly wordy just to fill up the paper. Most board members don’t even mind if it’s a short summary with a few bullet points. Lengthier reports may appear more like an academic report, complete with a cover page and table of contents. Be sure to highlight the important details and stick to content about your goals and objectives. If there is something the committee wants the board to consider, feel free to pose a question in the report and ask to have it put on the agenda for discussion.
Once again, if you keep the board report template in your BoardEffect board management software system, it will be easy to find for anyone who needs it, even at the last minute. It’s the modern approach to board governance.