Board Portals for Nonprofits: Are They the Best Option For Your Nonprofit?

Andrew VaethBoard of Directors, Nonprofit Tech

board portal for nonprofits improves communication and efficiency

Last week I attended an educational seminar regarding nonprofit board of directors best practices put on by Business Volunteers Unlimited. The board members who attended were there to swap ideas and habits to better their own board. We all filled out a questionnaire which we then compared to a national survey from Stanford on Leadership and Management in the Nonprofit Sector from 2017.

One thing I learned that stood out in my mind is that 78% of boards do not use a board portal. despite the indication that board governance is a top priority. On top of that, only 1/4 of people in our seminar knew what a board portal even was or use some sort of collaboration platform. 54% said their board members are prepared for board meetings to ‘some extent.’  Why is that?

Generally, we define a board portal as software used by organizations to organize the information and communications associated with managing their boards.

We put them into 3 categories:

  1. Dedicated commercial software, e.g. BoardMax, BoardEffect, Diligent
  2. Custom extranet
  3. Repurposed file sharing platforms, e.g. Google Drives

Board portals are useful because they make communication from staff to board and between individual board members easier, more clear, accurate, and timely. They can also help with tracking attendance, voting, and document management.

So why aren’t more nonprofits using them? We see two main reasons:

1 – Cost-to-value ratio for the nonprofits

The cost of dedicated commercial software is often out of reach, especially for smaller nonprofits. Custom built board portals can be less expensive once implemented, but take time and resources to implement, and are often limited in their features. Repurposed file sharing platforms are often free, but allow little more than file sharing and some communications.

2 – Ease of use for board members

We’ve heard from countless nonprofits:  “our board members won’t use the board portal.”  The problem isn’t that the tools aren’t useful, it is that they are not designed to be easy to access or to learn. Learning how to use new software is not beyond the capability of even the most stubborn non-techie, but when board members are volunteering their time, asking them to use just one more can be an over-stretch.

Cureo addresses both of these issues. Cureo is simple to use and learn by board members, as the only tools they need to use are tools that they are already familiar with –  their own email account and the nonprofit’s website.

Also, our platform is affordable, with starter subscriptions as low as $75/month. The value that nonprofits get from the platform go beyond board management. Cureo can simply be used to manage other teams such as task teams, cross-sector collaborations, committees, and internal teams.

Nonprofit teams are different, so use collaboration software purpose-built for you, your board of directors, your committees, and beyond.

Ready to start now? Download our free nonprofit communication guide to get a kick-start on effective collaboration.

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