How to Shop for Nonprofit Board Management Software

Nonprofit organization leaders don’t shy away from board management software because they’re luddites or technophobes. The fact is, there are several valid reasons why nonprofits are sometimes slower at adopting technology. Consider these two common obstacles – dubious quality and prohibitive cost.

Quality

It’s taken awhile for software providers to develop intuitive solutions that can handle all the complexities of board management. Any software company worth their salt listens to their customers’ feedback and incrementally makes product improvements based on the suggestions they receive. There are now real players with well-thought-out software solutions ready to sell their wares and help their customers.

Cost

Software can be expensive in terms of both money and the time required for everyone to get up to speed. This is true especially in nonprofit organizations where infrastructure dollars have greater value.  It’s hard to justify spending limited resources on an unknown quantity.  However, the cost of board portals is now under $100 per month. Knowing what to look for in a software tool can help alleviate these concerns.

Tips to Find the Best Nonprofit Board Management Solution

  • Take advantage of free trials – once you narrow down the products that seem best for you, take the time to try out their demos. Don’t just rely on sales pitches, and video tutorials. Get in there, roll up your sleeves and determine if the software is intuitive enough for you as well as your board and committee members.

  • Be leery of one-size- fits-all solutions – a friend once told me “you can take a helicopter in the grocery store with you, but it might not be the best tool.” He is both correct and hilarious.  Look for a board management solution that can handle your current concerns and grow with you over time if needed.

  • Look for endorsements – chances are your institution is a member of organizations, (for example, BoardSource), geared toward providing nonprofit board management resources and helping non-profits like yours. Look to the ones you use and trust the most, and see if they endorse any software tools that meet your needs.

  • Check for Apps – more and more people are accessing information on smartphones and tablet devices. Don’t discount this growing trend. Having an app version of the software gives your board and committee members another tool to stay connected and engaged.

  • Consider support resources – very few people consider it fun to curl up and read a user manual, but since you may need to look something up at some point, you’ll want to make sure the product documentation is well-written and useful. Also make sure there’s access to phone or online support during business hours and reasonable support offerings during nights, weekends and holidays.

Image Source: Beth Kanter 

Download our Board Portal Purchase Evaluation Guide for additional tips when shopping for software.