Exponent Philanthropy members tend to use online storage services, board websites, and board portals to share board books electronically.
Online storage services (e.g., Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive) allow users to store files online. Typically, low-cost, they are also simpler to set up than many other options. The most popular online storage services allow users to create an account, share files, including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, and music files with other users. These services also allow users to set access levels for files, deciding who can view and edit each file. They also sync automatically so that everyone is viewing the latest version. Once board books are stored in the cloud, individuals can be notified by e-mail and allowed to view online and print as needed on their own.
Board websites are another good option. A password-protected section of the website can be made available only to board members and select staff, making a board website both secure and easy to access. Board members are often able to get to documents they need right from the foundation’s home page. Board websites also can become a space where board members communicate with one another, share feedback as materials are reviewed, get notifications of upcoming events, download meeting agendas, or read other foundation and grantee news. You may choose to create the board website on your own, if you have the capacity and know-how, or many hosting services will create these pages for an additional fee.
Finally, board portals are a type of software created to help boards collaborate and work together. Options include BoardEffect, BoardVantage, Diligent Boardbooks, Directors Desk. Prices vary for different portal systems, with a basic system costing around $10,000. For that cost, users will receive the software and training in its use. Board portals tend to have lots of useful functionality. Within most portals, users can create board books and meeting agendas. They generally also have built-in voting and polling functions, calendar tools, e-mail alerts, and the ability for individual board members to review and add notes to their own board books.