Miriam Foundation St. Louis: Small Nonprofit With Big Support

One of the main reasons I chose Boardable was it was so easy to use. It’s easy to arrange documents in the order you want.
— Julie Champion, Miriam Foundation

Originally chartered in 1910, Miriam Foundation St. Louis has served its community for more than 100 years by upholding its simple yet powerful mission“Miriam improves the quality of life for children with learning disabilities and their families through innovative and comprehensive programs.”

After more than a century of supporting St. Louis families with its educational programs, Miriam has become so well regarded that members of its community continually seek ways to be involved—to the point that Miriam’s board now has more than 30 members.

Managing a 30-member board of directors

Not only is Miriam’s board much larger than average, it also meets every other month (and that’s to say nothing of its multiple subcommittees). Managing a board that large and that active is a job in itself.

 Miriam has established a strong reputation through helping children with learning disabilities. (Photo courtesy of Amber Foster-Hobart and Miriam Foundation St. Louis)

Miriam has established a strong reputation through helping children with learning disabilities. (Photo courtesy of Amber Foster-Hobart and Miriam Foundation St. Louis)

Miriam’s executive director, however, handled most aspects of managing the board, essentially adding a whole other role to his responsibilities leading the organization.

“Our ED was doing it all himself except printing the packets,” says Julie Champion, administrative assistant at Miriam.

An administrative assistant finds a better way

Nearly all executive directors face a paradox when it comes to their boards. They need to engage their boards as deeply as possible, yet spend as little time managing their boards as possible.

For Miriam’s executive director, that reality created multiple issues that needed a solution. Document storage, for instance, grew into a particularly sore pain point. (Imagine managing files between 30 people through email.)

“Our ED wanted documents stored and secured and easy to access,” Champion says. Eventually, he looked to board management software for help.

“[He] tasked me with doing the research,” Champion says. “When I did, I compared my notes, and I was really leaning toward Boardable.”

How Boardable made life better for Miriam Foundation St. Louis and its board

Centralized document storage

“It’s a better way to keep things organized,” Champion says. Boardable’s encrypted, secure storage empowers board members to find the documents they need, when they need them.

 Secure central file storage helps Miriam better manage board documents. (Photo courtesy of Amber Foster-Hobart and Miriam Foundation St. Louis)

Secure central file storage helps Miriam better manage board documents. (Photo courtesy of Amber Foster-Hobart and Miriam Foundation St. Louis)

That saves time for the board and for Miriam, not to mention paper costs. “The main convenience is not having to print those documents, collate them, and staple them … sometimes even mail them,” Champion says.

Furthermore, document storage streamlines meeting scheduling. “It’s so much easier once I put a meeting in Boardable and just upload the documents to [the invite],” Champion says. “It’s easy to arrange documents in the order you want.”

Leaders stay focused on leading

Miriam’s executive director felt so confident in how Boardable helped engage the board, he turned over most of his board management responsibilities to Champion. He’s now able to focus more intently on strategy and development.

As for Champion, even with the added responsibility of managing Miriam’s board, she also has reclaimed time to focus on her core responsibilities. “There’s always work to be done,” she says. “Managing the information board members need is one less thing that I have to spend a lot of time on.”

Board members learn by clicking

“One of the main reasons I chose Boardable was it was so easy to use. ‘Documents’ goes to documents,” Champion says, referring to the portal’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get functionality.

That simplicity is crucial. Miriam, like many nonprofits, has a multigenerational board. That means widely varying levels of comfort not just with new technology, but technology in general. Some of its longest-serving board members were uncomfortable not having paper documents to hold.

 Boardable's simple tools make it easy for Miriam's more than 30 board members to jump in and use. (Photo courtesy of Amber Foster-Hobart and Miriam Foundation St. Louis)

Boardable's simple tools make it easy for Miriam's more than 30 board members to jump in and use. (Photo courtesy of Amber Foster-Hobart and Miriam Foundation St. Louis)

But Champion pointed out what they were gaining. “I told them, ‘You don’t have to wait for me to print and mail [the documents],’” she says. “You can print them yourself. You have options now.’”

A proud moment came when one of those members brought documents to a meeting. “He said, ‘I read it all at home, and I printed out a copy so I could bring it in and write notes on it,’” she recalls. He then elaborated, “I played around for about an hour on [Boardable] last night, and this thing is amazing.”

The price is right

Miriam has a large board, but it’s still a small nonprofit. When Champion researched other board portals on the market, many priced themselves for much larger organizations.

“Some of the prices out there are ridiculous,” she says, recalling some that were “$50 per user.” But with Boardable, Champion found a board management software that could pay for itself through the time it saved Miriam.

“The price was so reasonable,” she says. “It’s affordable for nonprofits. That made a huge difference.”


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