Enhance Board Productivity and Waste Less Paper


What do board members need to be effective? Access to each other, to governance documents, and to information needed to make decisions. What they don’t need is another stack of paper to carry around and throw away. Here are five ways to enhance board productivity with less paper waste.

PDF Files

Those massive board books. Stacks of financial reports. They are not only wasteful and expensive; they are difficult for board members to keep at hand. If your board members use laptops, tablets, or smart phones, then PDF files may the best way to provide them with board documents and reports. It is easy to convert Word and Excel files to simple PDF versions using the Print function.

Scheduling Tools

Stop scheduling meetings by phone or email. Free versions of Dropbox or Meeting Wizard make it easy to find times in busy schedules when people can meet. The host simply sends a message with a link to an online form that shows all the possible meeting times. Individuals then respond by checking off the dates and times that work for them. Once everyone has responded, the host reviews the chart to find the times when all (or most) can meet. Easy.

Document Files

No need to mail out board meeting documents – or send emails with multiple attachments. Set up an online file cabinet using Dropbox or Evernote. Board members then have secure access to all the documents for the meeting from any computer, tablet, or smart phone. Tools like Google Drive allow boards to collaborate on documents by creating and editing items online. These tools offer security, audit trails, and access across multiple platforms.


Another useful application of online access is for voting and surveys. It takes only a few minutes to set up a ballot in Google Drive or Survey Monkey to that allows the board to vote quickly and securely with a record of who voted and how. It is also easy to use this tool for surveys with signed or anonymous responses. This is particularly useful for meeting evaluations.

Board Portals

It is possible to bundle all of these functions and many more using a board portal. Web developers can create a custom portal as a private section of your organization’s web site. There are also third-party board portals like BoardMax and BoardEffect. These offer a full range of services to make nonprofit board administration easier. BoardSource Virtual Boardroom is an excellent entry-level portal that is affordable for the small boards it is designed to serve.

Be sure to check your state statutes for those that govern how nonprofit organizations use telephone, email, and digital media to make decisions and share information. 

10 Minute Board Discussion

What’s the best way to give our board members access to each other and to necessary information? 


Photo courtesy of iStockphoto user peterglanville.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am a BoardSource® Certified Governance Trainer as an independent contractor. I receive no compensation from BoardSource or any other vendor for mentioning brands or services in my posts. I do not receive a commission on any items you may purchase from BoardSource through links on this blog. You should know that I only recommend products or services that I use and that I believe will benefit my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What do you think?

I reserve the right to delete comments that are 1) snarky, 2) offensive, or 3) off-topic. For details, please see my Comments Policy.