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Save Volunteer Board Director Time With The Right Technology

Save volunteer board directors time with the right technology


For what is usually unpaid volunteer work, board service for mission-driven organizations can demand an outsized time commitment. The most valuable board members are those whose professions, networks and expertise bring concrete benefits to support the mission — and these are people who already have plenty to do.

After all, the saying is, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

But board directors walk a fine line of just enough and too much. Working through a day of family responsibility, employment demands, community needs and personal tasks only to then turn to the needs of a mission-driven organization? All that pressure increases the risk of burnout.

To preserve what makes a board member great — their time, energy and other resources — nonprofit leaders can turn to technology. By implementing and fully realizing the benefits of a board management platform, board members can use their time most efficiently while guiding their organization to success.

How Board Management Software Enhances Efficiency

Because it is purpose-built, board management software is uniquely positioned to save time for busy board members. It provides a single platform of functionality and features for the board, as well as those who either support them or oversee them. It ensures everyone is on the same page, both literally and metaphorically — and it offers everything a board needs to run effectively, without overcomplicated elements that add confusion.

Consider these specific features that can help your board streamline processes, improve communication and enhance collaboration.

Make Documents Easy to Find

At its heart, a board management platform secures, organizes, preserves and publishes all the documents a board needs to govern effectively. Boards working with shared drives, emails and paper on different devices lose a lot of time searching for the right version of the right document. By offering a single location — viewable on different devices — board management software erases uncertainty. Moreover, digitizing your historical materials with searchable archives helps save time locating those older documents.

Encourage Successful Collaboration

Board directors work when they can — during scheduled, in-person or virtual meetings, but also on their own time, with their own devices. A modern board management portal offers a number of features that support these hybrid teams on different schedules, including scheduling flexibility, real-time updates, accessible meeting packets, polling and e-signatures. (There are also strategies and tools to make hybrid meetings more successful.)

Keep the Work Moving Forward

With contributors on different schedules, in different locations and on different devices, boards can lose precious work time waiting for key participants to finish a task. Workflow management with automated notifications and clear scheduling helps all stakeholders understand expectations and contribute efficiently.

Board management software also smooths the relationship between the board and administration by allowing the easy transfer of supporting materials, approvals and other transactions. By automating these processes, supporting staff can be freed up to work on more critical efforts.

Offer Self-Directed Onboarding and Continuous Development

Self-motivation is a quality shared by many high-level volunteers, and a board management platform plays to that strength by putting control in the hands of the people who need it. New board members face a steep learning curve, but this can be eased by sharing introductory material digitally — from regulatory and conflict of interest education to cyber risk.

As directors move through their service, they can access ongoing training, updates, news and other key information in one place, on their own time and on their own devices. Presbyterian SeniorCare Network have moved to a 6 step process with self-directed onboarding. Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Assistant to the President & Corporate Secretary, says, “I have received so much positive feedback from new members by making the process self-guided and virtual. One new trustee said, ‘this was the best orientation I ever had’”.

“I have received so much positive feedback from new members by making the process self-guided and virtual. One new trustee said, ‘this was the best orientation I ever had’” – Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Assistant to the President & Corporate Secretary, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network

Maintain Security

Nonprofits and charities are an increasingly appealing target to bad actors who use ransomware and other cyberthreats to create mayhem. Depending on their area of service, organizations may have financial, health, personal and other data, all of which needs appropriate levels of protection. Look for a platform with strong data recovery protocols and certified across multiple industry standards, like BoardEffect. (BoardEffect also offers HIPAA-compliant solutions).

Promote Accountability

Mission-driven organizations must answer to a number of entities, including donors, members, volunteers, regulatory agencies, foundations and more. By creating a single source of truth with easy publishing — combined with role-based, granular permissions — boards can make the right materials available to each audience at the right time.

Tips to Unlock Board Management Software Quickly

When your mission-driven organization adopts board management software, there are a few ways to use technology to unleash efficiency for your board.

  • Reap the Payoff of Granular Permissions. Establishing limits over what different groups can access has two immediate benefits: enhancing security and minimizing the burden on overtaxed staff. Involving different groups in only what they need to see and act upon will increase confidence in daily work and keep all contributors focused on where they are most needed.
  • Codify the Transition from Email and Other Insecure Channels. Directors accustomed to a barrage of messaging and documents across email, text, cloud storage and more will discover the benefit of a single location with clear dashboards for all board work. Redirecting all related board work to the platform will immediately reduce confusion and redundancy.
  • Begin Empowering Others to Find Answers. With easy searchability and publishing capabilities, the platform can enable directors, staff and other audiences to seek answers for their own questions, at the right time. Like directors, many other nonprofit groups are working with hybrid schedules, and self-directed research can provide information while allowing board time to be used on decision making.
  • Explore the Potential of Polling. Built-in polling tools can be used effectively at all stages of service — from collecting new board members’ skills, interests and strengths to pulse surveys to exit interviews, all without exposing your organizations’ sensitive data to yet another cookie-cutter online service. In particular, boards can use polling to collect details on outgoing directors’ work to ensure continuity.
  • Build Your Archive. Work on a sensible process for digitizing organization archives and building a secure, extensive, searchable resource for institutional memory.

Take the Next Steps to Elevate Board Governance

Board management software is technology nonprofit boards can use to improve efficiency, save time and modernize governance. With benefits for all stakeholders — from directors to staff, donors, volunteers, the public and oversight agencies — organizations will see immediate rewards for this transition, while empowering board members to give their time where it makes the most difference.

We at Diligent understand the unique needs of board members of mission-driven organizations and the demands that can be placed on their time. With BoardEffect, we offer a solution that respects the contributions of board members while helping keep the mission-driven organization on the path to success.

Jennifer Rose Hale

Jennifer Rose Hale has over 20 years' experience with digital and employee communications in for- and nonprofit environments. Her writing and client areas of expertise include education, finance, science and technology.

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