Consider Going Paperless at Your Next Board Meeting
Wow — that was a light meeting! The September board meeting with our client USPOULTRY Foundation was a delight. Each board member and guest had a tablet provided for him or her to keep pace throughout the meeting, and the board members left with zip drives containing important documents.
USPOULTRY CEO John Starkey and his leadership team conducted a cost analysis — materials as well as staff time — of producing the extensive notebooks that each board member received at the quarterly meeting. Then, the staff researched options to go paperless and made the move. They tested the concept at another meeting as a dry run.
I serve on five boards and consult with more than a dozen others each year. While I know many took this plunge years ago, this was my first experience going completely paperless at a board meeting — and something I now strongly encourage.
Here are five ways to reduce paper waste and clutter for your board and committee meetings:
- Send materials electronically to the board in advance and ask board members to print out what they need. Or better yet, to bring their laptops or tablets. Or follow USPOULTRY's lead and have the computers provided during the meeting.
- Use online tools like MeetingWizard, Doodle, TimeBridge, Congregar and Google Calendar to schedule meetings.
- Show the agenda and key documents by projection, whiteboard or flip chart.
- Use an Internet portal exclusive to the board, Google Docs or Microsoft SharePoint to display documents (you may need to provide training for using these tools).
- Allow remote participation through Web-based conference services.
If you are moving in the paperless direction, remember that board members have differing levels of tech know-how. Be prepared to offer group and individual coaching, and have someone on hand to troubleshoot technology or other challenges.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.