I am 15 minutes into a nonprofit board meeting and I look around the table to take note of the talent represented -- diverse, busy, expensive talent. Wondering how much each person charges for an hour of his or her time, I add up $150, $250, $95, $300, circling the table for a total guesstimate of $2000.
Huh, I wonder whether our organization would have paid $500 for the last 15 minutes of getting everyone up to speed?
In that moment, the concept of best use of a board member’s limited time and great talent crystallized for me.
Fast forward a year. Different job, working with a different board. I’m on the phone with Christy Kim. She is the 2017 Board President for the Raleigh-Wake Human Resource Management Association (RWHRMA) in North Carolina.
“Our board position terms are officially one year, so to be effective we need a place to be organized and a platform to help keep our meetings strategic. We need something to make handoffs easier from one board officer to the next.” Kim tells me over the phone. “And we need a tool to fit the working methods and technical abilities of different generations -- Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers.”
I’m talking with Kim because I now work for Boardable, an Indianapolis-based startup that is building board management software. It is software that is cloud-based, so it can be used on any computer or device, and born in the heyday of user-experience (UX) design, so it’s intuitive to use. No need for an IT office or specially-trained administrator.
Mission, Membership, Mastery
Based on Boardable’s experience, top performing nonprofit boards understand the Human Resource adage Mission, Membership, Mastery doesn’t apply only to employee engagement; it applies to board engagement. Boardable was built to leverage engagement, keeping these three key concepts at the forefront.
In the top right-hand corner of the Boardable dashboard is an announcements box, where the organization’s mission, impact elevator pitch, or updates can be a handy reminder for board and committee members. Mission and mission-related activities are kept top of mind.
Boardable has a board member directory that both board members and liaison staff can update, making it an evergreen directory for better use of everyone’s time. Each entry includes a headshot. Glancing at the directory prior to walking into the meeting is a handy way to remember faces and names. And greeting someone by name—especially when it’s not expected—can improve the feeling of membership and inclusion.
There’s a reason a person is recruited to a board: functional expertise, subject matter expertise, volunteer time, ability to give, or mastery and talent in multiple domains. It is difficult to capture each person’s talent in one hour once a month or once a quarter. Make better use of each board member’s talent by making better use of meetings. Boardable is built to manage meetings, with the ability to contribute comments, discussions, documents, or polls for a meeting before, after, or during. When a board member wants to contribute insight specific to an upcoming or past board meeting, there’s a place to capture it.
While we have some customers outside the local area, the lion’s share is here in Indy. We are eager to make an impact locally, where we can have direct contact with organizations.
Helping nonprofits achieve their missions energizes us as we continue to improve the platform. It’s an iterative process. Boardable’s team relies on our users’ success stories, feedback, and requests for additional features.
Tell us what progress you are trying to make with your board; maybe we can help. Come kick the tires for this local startup. And be sure to tell us what you think.
Julie Heath is the Vice President of Partnerships for Boardable. Julie began her career at the Smithsonian Institution and is fascinated with nonprofit business models. Currently, she's enjoying getting to know her new home city of Indianapolis, IN, where she resides with her husband and son.