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Proven Ways To Encourage Your Trustees To Use Your Board Management Software

Proven ways to encourage your trustees to use your board management software


One of the main duties of board administrators is to ensure that their board can do their work effectively and efficiently. Board management software is a powerful solution that can revolutionise how charity and nonprofit boards make decisions and lead their organisations. However, implementing new software can sometimes be met with resistance or reluctance.

A nine-member volunteer board of trustees recently adopted a board management software system. Most of the members are working to get up to speed with the system, with support from the board administrator. One trustee, however, insists that he prefers to read paper copies of the board report and supporting documentation. He tells his colleagues that he’s logged into the system, but the board administrator can see that he has not done so yet.

The administrator wonders how she can prompt the trustee to get up to speed with the other members. The benefits of the system – increased engagement, collaboration, efficiency, and security – can only be achieved if everyone on the board uses it.

Volunteer trustees bring a variety of strengths and assets to their board, as well as different personalities and viewpoints. They also possess different levels of expertise, comfort, and motivation when it comes to using technology tools like board management software.

How can board administrators encourage their boards to embrace board management software, such as BoardEffect, so they can improve their experience and governance capabilities?

Reasons board members might avoid using board management software

Board members may lag in adopting and using the software for many reasons, including:

Lack of training

If board members aren’t trained on how to use the software, they may be less inclined to use it, especially if they are not aware of all the useful features. Alternatively, they may have received an initial training session, but have forgotten or left it too long before they accessed the technology.

Inexperience or discomfort using technology

Screens and devices may be ubiquitous these days, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some people who still find technology adoption difficult.

Resistance to change

Change is hard, even when it’s beneficial. Board members may be comfortable using digital technology, but some will resist adopting new technologies because they are used to traditional ways of communication and don’t see the need to change.

They don’t see or understand the value

If the benefits and value of the board management software are not effectively communicated to board members, they may not see the necessity of using it.

Security concerns

Data security is a major concern for all organisations and associations, especially when nonprofits seem to be frequent targets of cyberattacks. Security concerns could make board members hesitant to use board management software if they don’t understand how secure they can be.

Time demands

Volunteer board members have jobs and lives outside their board service, and they often serve on more than one board or committee. If they perceive that learning how to use the board software will make their jobs more complicated or take more time than they’d like, they will fall back to using more familiar methods.

Explaining the benefits of board management software

Even though your board approved and purchased the management system, that doesn’t mean all the trustees fully understand how it works, or the changes that it can bring. Articulating the value of board management software and highlighting its benefits can influence board members’ perceptions about how it will impact their board work.

Volunteer trustees give their time and efforts to their organisation or association. They serve because they want to make a positive impact, so making sure they understand the benefits of the system boosts their willingness to learn and use the system. Explaining “what’s in it for them” is a good first step to getting them started.

Those benefits include:

  • Easily accessible information: Board members can instantly and easily look up data and find board packets and minutes, or other information that they need. This saves time for board members and alleviates the frustration of searching through emails and drives for the documents they need to make decisions or continue a discussion. It also creates efficiencies for the board administrator, who doesn’t need to field multiple requests for the same information.
  • Ability to work anywhere and anytime: Board members can use different devices to access the technology, enabling them to work and meet remotely.
  • Enhanced collaboration and communication capability: Management systems allow for easy collaboration with board colleagues or members of a committee. Staff and trustees can edit and share group documents without the need to email copies to one another. It helps with version control of documents, as well.
  • Enhanced security: Data security and the threat of cyberattacks can make board members wary of putting secure data on an online platform. Hacked board member emails or accidental sharing of sensitive financial information could cause harm to their organisation’s reputation. Solutions such as BoardEffect have the highest security measure and are more secure than email or other file-sharing tools. Using board management software is the most convenient and safest way of keeping data secure.

Tips to get all trustees on board

Board administrators, with the help of others on the board, can overcome resistance to adopting the new software. Some tips include:

  • Enlist the board president and organisation leadership to model using the software. Board members who see how useful the software is for their board work will adopt much faster. Ask leaders or power users to talk about how they use the software, as well as set expectations that all board members need to get up to speed for the board to progress and meet its goals.
  • Use onboarding as a starting point. New and incoming board members should start with the expectation that they must use the software to perform the work of the board. This can also be a good time to hold refresher training for veteran members.
  • Training all the time: Provide training individually and for the entire board, and support board members one-on-one if they have questions or feel unsure about any aspect of the technology. This is a good time to address and clear up any misperceptions or misunderstanding they have about the software’s function or capabilities. This training should include the security measures put in place to ensure data privacy.
  • Be consistent: A consistent experience for board trustees helps ease adoption. Send all emails through the platform, as well as meeting information, logistics, locations and agendas. Provide links to information on the portal and resist sending it through other avenues (such as printing the board package for that one reluctant member). Require that board committees use the same templates from the software as well.
  • Engage them often: Use your board management software not only to send information, but also receive it, as way to increase engagement. Set up polls and surveys for members to take and provide feedback on upcoming meetings. Ask members to fill out and update their experience and skills for your board skills audit. Send out information about holiday parties, luncheons, and other social events.
  • Celebrate success: Recognising and celebrating milestones achieved through the adoption of board management software reinforces its value. Acknowledge and share success stories, whether it’s improved meeting productivity, faster decision-making, or enhanced collaboration.

A culture of innovation

Board management software like BoardEffect can help your board achieve its goals for your organisation. Fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement requires that all trustees can take advantage of the efficiencies and other benefits of the software.

As your board works through adoption of the software, this will create a board culture where technology adoption is encouraged and supported.

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. Contact Customer Success for more support to help your board trustees.

Kathleen Vail

Kathleen Vail is a writer and editor in Northern Virginia. She has been covering education and board governance issues at the local and national level for more than 30 years.

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