By: Kristen Scott, Managing Director at the Bhutan Canada Foundation
Anyone who works with a Board of Directors knows that there are considerable challenges when it comes to keeping members up-to-date and engaged between meetings. In some cases, you may face the additional challenge of having a board that is spread across Canada, North America or even the world.
I personally deal with these challenges on a regular basis, which is why at a recent board meeting meeting I introduced the members to the “board portal”, a simple way to stay connected to the organization and to each other in between board meetings using Google Docs.
I used this PowerPoint presentation to introduce the portal:
To summarize the basics:
- Elect one person (board or staff) to champion the board portal project.
- Determine the best way to organize content in Google Docs using folders.
- Start by uploading a few of founding organizational and reference documents, such as bylaws, budgets, and board meeting minutes.
- Give step-by-step , in-person training to board members.
- Faciliate “work spaces” where board members can collaborate online.
- Upload new content regularly and allow board members to upload documents as well.
Remember, using Google Docs may not be intuitive to everyone. Be patient and offer additional one-on-one help for those who need it. While it may take some time for the portal to become well used by all board members, start taking baby steps early to encourage participation.
For example, instead of emailing huge board packages before meetings, upload everything into the board portal ahead of the meeting and send out a notice when it is available for the board to access (along with a link and the login information – in case they forgot). Logging into the portal for meeting information will soon become second nature and eventually board members will start using the portal to view recent financials, check-in on program updates, or collaborate with fellow board members on strategic planning. Before you know it board meetings will be held in the cloud!
Kristen Scott is Managing Director at the Bhutan Canada Foundation and a firm believer in the power of education and technology to create strong global communities.