Most nonprofit organizations and associations have a dedicated, functional board. However a common question from leadership is “How do we develop a high-performing board?”
A common obstacle to creating a high-performing board is lack of engagement and communication. Traditional engagement tactics tend to encroach on the board members’ already busy schedules, pulling them away from other responsibilities. Organizations can leverage today’s technology to improve engagement by providing access to the resources board members need, anytime and anywhere.
As the list of benefits below demonstrates, one of the most strategic engagement approaches is an Online Board Member Community and Resource Center, which can be integrated with a learning management system (LMS). The online community helps board members and the leadership get to know each other better, and communicating and working together cohesively.
Benefits of Creating an Online Board Member/Stakeholder Community
- Strong focus on performance, results and success
- Access to information when and where board members need it
- Fosters constant communication to board members and key stakeholders
- Helps the organization operate in transparency
- Supports board recruitment, retention, and leadership succession
With these benefits in mind, take a look at areas within the online community that can help shape a board into a high-performing board and ensure alignment across the organization, both strategically and operationally.
A robust Board Orientation that keeps pace with change and growth
The board orientation program is a responsibility shared between the CEO, leadership and current board members. Providing new members with the information they need to perform the duties expected of them is critical for their success. But how much can they retain from a half day training? Can they learn everything they need to know about the organization? How likely are they to re-open their board manual?
An online board community provides the opportunity to create a dynamic board orientation that members can turn to again and again as a valuable, current resource. Following learning best practices, the orientation program can be broken into bite-size learning modules in the form of webinars or as a self-paced course. Consider the effectiveness of an orientation with these features:
- Live online welcome with other board members.
- A community directory with text and video biographies of existing board members and staff.
- Discussion boards with answer to frequently asked questions – to spark engagement, and where existing board members provide the answers in their own tone and writing style.
- Library of resources providing the rich history of the organization including a board manual, strategic plan, calendar of events, case studies, past meeting minutes, and other information a new member would find valuable.
- A media room with podcasts for on-the-go learning: CEO updates, Board Chair updates, Leadership team department updates, Recorded Meeting Archives.
Live streaming meetings for better attendance and engagement
The speakerphone is often the go-to tool for boards when a member is unable to attend a monthly meeting in person. But a speakerphone can’t capture the mood of the meeting and instead can leave the absent member feeling disconnected. With an online board community, meetings can be streamed live and also recorded for later viewing. Video recordings of the meeting are available almost immediately and can be transcribed, if necessary. Videos are an effective alternative to manually recorded and transcribed meeting minutes and save on administration time.
A project classroom to keep board members focused on high priority initiatives
How often do your board members meet in person? Does the organization provide opportunities for engagement when they aren’t together? Members can login to an online community weekly, even daily, to stay on top of high priority initiatives, report on their own individual progress and review the progress others are making.
Discussion boards, announcements, and emails so there are no surprises
The last place you want a board member to learn about good news or bad news with your organization is from the newspaper or on television news. Keep them up to date through online discussion boards, announcements, and emails. An online community keeps everything in one central location accessible from anywhere in the world.
Expertise cross training programs
Most board members are recruited based in part on their functional expertise, needed for succession planning and strategic guidance. With a system like the iCohere platform, board members can create their own expertise training using webinars or videos to cross train board members and key staff.
In closing, developing a board member online community around the organization’s and board members’ needs is key to its success. The ROI is high because the initial investment of resources and time used to design the community results in a flexible, long-term asset that grows with the organization.
Want to see a board community in action? Contact iCohere for a free, no-obligation demo.