As written for STRIVE! at: http://www.strive.com/resources/article/the_power_of_a_board_portal
Board secretaries always get the best jobs. As the secretary of a nonprofit board, I was recently asked to sort through and organize the dozens of board documents we had accumulated over the years. I dreamed of one of the big-name board portal applications but the $500 per board member annual fee meant I had to find another option. Fortunately, there are now free file sharing applications that can be set up to function like a board portal.
To organize our board documents, I used Microsoft OneDrive. OneDrive allowed me to set up file folders for the main categories – Orientation, Board Policies, Reference, Confidential, etc – and share them with my fellow board members. Since I share the folders individually I can keep the Confidential folder restricted to board members while sharing the other folders with staff so they can help me keep documents up-to-date. When someone leaves the board, I simply remove them from the list of people who can access the folder.
From a security perspective, OneDrive has a two-step verification process and file encryption so it is as secure as any other software on the cloud. DropBox, Google Drive and Apple iCloud are other free options however I chose OneDrive for the amount of free storage (15Gb) and their survey tool. I can now create customized professional-looking surveys for our Board Meeting Assessments. OneDrive directs the results into an Excel spreadsheet so they are easy for me to summarize. (Of course, if complete anonymity is a concern, a third-party supplier such as STRIVE! is an option to pursue.)
The results have been even better than I expected. Board members are using their laptops and tablets to prepare for meetings using the OneDrive app or downloading the documents into their app of choice. Any document we need during a meeting is just a few clicks away and everyone is now accessing the most recent version. Even new board members thanked me for how easily they could find all the documents they needed to get oriented and they were able to fully participate from the start.
An online board portal is a free, simple way to organize your board documents and ultimately improve the performance of your board.