Customer Stories

Rose Community Foundation

This 74-year-old philanthropic organization uses modern board portal technology to serve its community.

Rose Community Foundation

 

Industry: Nonprofit

Headquarters: Denver

Board Management Goals

  • Centralized storage/access to documentation
  • End reliance on email for board communication/engagement

  • Provide board/committee members with important/valuable resources more easily

Results

  • Easier and faster creation of board books and meeting agendas
  • A supplemental, helpful aid to in-person meetings

  • Ease-of-use adoption for even the most tech-averse board members

Making the Switch to Digital Board Management

Rose Community Foundation, based in Denver, has been a community staple since 1949. It began as a hospital that served Denver’s Jewish community, but it has since evolved into a philanthropic organization that supports a multitude of area organizations through endowments and grants, aiming to create positive, sustainable, systemic change within the community.

Community foundations often have a robust committee structure to help them serve their communities, and Rose is no different. As community liaison, Cat Lindsey is charged with overseeing the foundation’s nine committees and coordinating committee meetings, all of which happen within six weeks of each other. It can be a hectic time.

When Lindsey was trying to do all this with paper and binders, it was even more stressful. “The old way, I would have been weeping,” she said. “To just be able to drop things where they need to go … that’s been huge.”

About a year ago, Lindsey was tasked with looking for and recommending a new board management solution. The foundation was experiencing pain points around centralized storage/access to documentation and relying on email for board communication and engagement. It was also struggling to provide board and committee members with important, valuable resources.

“For a long time, we had a shared server where we could access common files,” Lindsey said. “I did the legwork on looking at a bunch of different options, and then set up the demos and made final suggestions. Before that, we were just basically putting documents in a PDF and emailing them out, which obviously isn’t secure.”

Efficiency Gains Across Committees

Since implementing OnBoard, Lindsey and Rose noticed quickly how much easier and faster it has become to create and populate meeting agendas and board books. Additionally, drag-and-drop functions make editing and shuffling around items easy, and ensures that everyone has that updated information in real time.

While Rose still holds in-person board and committee meetings, directors are coming to meetings more prepared because the information is readily accessible and easy to find before and during meetings.

“Finding information easily and quickly rather than hunting through an email inbox for the right document has been a crowd-pleaser,” Lindsey said. “I definitely see it helping during meetings, just not having to shuffle through a stack of papers and look for the relevant thing that we’re talking about. Everything just moves a lot more quickly.”

That efficiency is arguably even more vital for a community foundation, because of its responsibilities and mission, Lindsey added.

“A community foundation has to be really transparent, in the ways a family foundation or a private foundation doesn’t have to be,” she said. “OnBoard gives us the chance to put everything out there so our committee members know what’s going on. They have access to a lot more information than before, and I think that’s key to the way a community foundation creates and maintains those relationships with their volunteers.”

“The idea of putting together this many board and committee packets in the space of a month, the old way, I would have been weeping. To just be able to drop things where they need to go shuffle them really quickly. That's been huge. I'm really a fan of how easy that is to work through.”

Cat Lindsey

— Cat Lindsey
Committee Liaison
Rose Community Foundation

Circles

A Seamless Transition

Rose Community Foundation switched to OnBoard around the same time the organization underwent a major governance overhaul. It included two bylaws revisions and several more policy changes.

Adding a new board portal during that same time might seem like another heavy lift on the surface, but Lindsey said it made things easier. “Because of all those (other) changes, having easy access for people to look at that if they have a question has been really invaluable,” she said.

Lindsey said the transition from paper to portal went even easier than she suspected it would. It obviously made her life easier. “The ability to throw together a draft meeting book, send it out to the people who need to review it and have them look it over and then make any changes really, really quickly, has been huge for me.” But the board and committee members made the switch faster than even they envisioned.

“I always print out a couple of extra copies of a meeting book for our board or committees,” Lindsey said. “We had a board meeting (recently), and nobody needed it. Everybody had their laptops up, or they printed it out themselves. Everybody’s really focused on using the portal the way it’s meant to be, which has cut down on some of the extra nonsense.”

It’s common on boards for the less technology-inclined members to grumble about the change, or struggle with the software. But Lindsey said that didn’t happen on Rose’s boards and committees.

“[The board] has really taken to it,” she said. “The technology is pretty damn easy.”

Practical Improvements

OnBoard’s efficiencies didn’t stop with smooth transition or efficiency in meeting preparation. The board’s been able to make decisions more efficiently, thanks to the software’s electronic voting system, and meeting analytics have shown Lindsey how board members are using the information, so she knows what tweaks they might need to make to their system.

“One of the things that the (COVID-19) pandemic taught us was that we have to be flexible,” Lindsey said. “So, when we have to do business outside of a regular board meeting, in the past I would create an electronic vote and an email and send it out, and then chase people down who hadn’t responded to it. Being them able to send (votes) out through the portal now, that’s been huge.”

While Lindsey admits she hasn’t used the meeting analytics tool frequently, it has been a useful barometer for what board members are viewing.

“I can see that people are really, actually going through an opening and reading things, where with a PDF, it’s harder to navigate,” she said. “But that’s a tool we could employ better.”

Overall, Lindsey strongly believes that OnBoard has been a solid asset for the foundation, its board members and committee members, and ultimately its endowment and grant recipients.

“A year in, I can definitely say this was the right move.”

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