Technology is one of the most useful tools that nonprofits have at their disposal. Younger board directors are more likely to have familiarity with technology and how the nonprofit can use it to run more efficiently, save time and money, and adhere to good governance principles. Utilizing technology also brings some degree of risk into the organization, which means that nonprofits will need some level of technical assistance at the board level.
Nonprofit boards strive to be good stewards of their donors’ gifts, and many of them operate on a shoestring budget with lots of volunteer assistance. The challenge for many nonprofit boards is how to recruit tech-savvy board members to help them make the best use of technology while reducing risk and staying within a reasonable budget. Tech-savvy board directors can steer the board in developing a customized tech plan that meets the needs of the nonprofit.
Technology Provides Many Useful Functions for Nonprofits
Software solutions for nonprofit boards, such as a board portal, can assist nonprofit boards with dozens of useful processes. For example, two of the biggest functions of nonprofit organizations are related to organizing volunteers and fundraising efforts. Younger board directors are more familiar with how to use technology to streamline these processes and help the board perform its duties more efficiently and with less cost.
A tech-savvy board member will be able to use a board portal to automate notices for upcoming board meetings and events. Techies usually take very little time to set up a program for the nonprofit to be able to attract and accept donations online. They can also set up a smart-looking, functional website to increase the nonprofit’s branding and visibility online.
A board member who has technical expertise can help set up the portal to ensure that the nonprofit submits all of the proper compliance documents at the proper deadlines.
Creating Value With the Addition of a Tech-Savvy Board Director
Many of the technological processes aren’t difficult to implement once you know how. Having even one tech-savvy board member is a good start. Nonprofit boards need to be careful about putting all of their digital eggs in one basket. If they rely totally on one tech-savvy board member to manage everything digital and electronic, they could be left in the lurch if the board director resigns.
A better approach is to begin with a tech-savvy board director and develop a technology team. The tech-savvy board member can train the team in making improvements over time. The team would be responsible for planning current and future technology and setting up new processes to streamline and automate as many processes as possible. In this way, one tech-savvy board director helps the whole board gain knowledge and experience in useful technologies that assist all generations.
The first task of a tech team is to create a vision for how technology can help the nonprofit and set some goals for which to strive. The tech team, which may exist in the form of a committee or an advisory board, would be responsible to evaluate the organization’s technology needs, as well as to oversee the implementation of new programs and revise them over time, as necessary.
Duties and Responsibilities of the Technology Team
As with any other committee, nonprofit boards are wise to develop a charter or written description for the expectations of the tech committee. The charge may include identifying resources for information on improving technology for nonprofit boards, exploring specific technologies and making recommendations to the board.
The tech team’s tasks may require them to hold debates over what is and isn’t plausible for their nonprofit and help to align needs with the cost of solutions. It’s also helpful for tech teams to stay current with the needs and concerns of the organization and advise the board accordingly.
A tech team could be instrumental in assessing how similar nonprofits make the best use of technology and how they may be able to use similar technologies to move the nonprofit forward.
A tech-savvy board director can lead the tech team in being advocates for the nonprofit’s technology vision and be the front-runners in communicating their vision and goals to volunteers, colleagues and other stakeholders.
Issues for a Technology Team’s Agenda
Wherever there is a need, there is likely a technology solution to meet the need. BoardEffect takes pride in listening to and engaging in discussions with their clients in order to better understand their needs and take an innovative approach to solving them.
Board portals are one of the most important tools in today’s nonprofit world. Board portals supply the tools and templates to help nonprofit boards manage their filings to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
It’s considered best practices for boards to have a document retention policy. Many nonprofit boards still use paper storage systems, which rely on the amount of available shelf space when deciding which documents to retain and which to destroy.
To prevent liability issues, boards need a responsible system for retaining documents. Nonprofit boards need to retain documents for matters that fall under federal, state and local jurisdictions, including their bylaws, articles of incorporation, taxes and other required documents for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In fact, the new IRS Form 990 asks if nonprofits have a document retention policy, even though they’re not required to have one. BoardEffect’s board management software system provides an electronic storage system with unlimited, cloud-based storage. A board portal may prevent the potential problem of an individual who attempts to destroy documents in order to obstruct a federal investigation.
Nonprofit organizations aren’t immune from security issues. A tech team can set up preventative measures and develop a plan to communicate their crisis and recovery plans to the board. BoardEffect reduces some of the fear around security breaches. BoardEffect employs strong security measures to prevent data breaches that could compromise — and lead to the theft of — personally identifiable information.
Tech teams can be instrumental in protecting nonprofits from internal and external actors by setting up programs for setting passwords, automated and timed logouts, firewalls and data encryption.
The IRS requires nonprofits to make certain records available for public inspection upon request, unless they make them easily accessible on the internet. IRS Form 990 asks nonprofits how they make this information available.
Tech-Savvy Tips for Nonprofit Boards
While nonprofits may appreciate being able to take advantage of every available software solution to help them manage their organization responsibly, the reality is that most nonprofits have limits regarding budget and expertise. That’s not to say that nonprofit boards should take a pass on finding ways in which technology can improve their efforts.
At a minimum, you should put the topic of technology on the board’s agenda. In your board succession planning, place a high priority on candidates who have technological knowledge and expertise. At the very least, set up some formal or informal meetings with techies in your community. It may help you gain some valuable volunteers.