RE: Absenteeism at Nonprofit Board Meetings on the Rise? Can Technology Help? READERS HAVE SP0KEN!!

RE: Absenteeism at Nonprofit Board Meetings on the Rise? Can Technology Help?

READERS HAVE SP0KEN!!

By: Eugene Fram

I received a flood of responses to my post on NFP board meeting absenteeism and potential digital solutions to that growing problem. Following are abstracts of the many perceptive comments you provided. Thank you!!

It’s a genuine dilemma. I don’t like punitive board policies but I don’t want attendance to lower Board morale either. …If we want a high level strategic board, we have to accept that some Board members have huge constraints, which other directors may resent. However, engagement can be maintained with active contact from the CEO and the Board Chair.”

“I’m in my late 50’s, and I’m a digital immigrant. But the next generation-the people we want to integrate into our boards so the organization has a future -are digital natives. We each must give a little to form boards that can work together cross-geneationally…”

Becoming a digital immigrant can be difficult. Financial and time investments are quite high, but the outcomes can be quite worthwhile.”

“We have begun using speaker phones during our meetings, however it is difficult to keep members on the phone for the entire meeting since we meet only 3 times a year and the meetings are a full business day.”

“We have been offering a call-in attendance option for years and find it useful. But it is harder to stay engaged when only connected by a phone.”

Technology can help alleviate the attendance problem. Applying punitive bylaw provisions to separate those who don’t attend often are not effective in a volunteer world because of the ill will and conflict they can cause..”

“My great concern is board members becoming too dependent on electronic communications… Not having a face-to-face time with other board members dulls the important relationships needed for effective process and appropriate deliberative actions. I am positive that there is no substitute for Board members to sit together.”

“If you can’t attend one in-person meeting a year, then you should not be on the Board. Absenteeism is often the result of populating your Board with people who are too busy to be Board members.”

“Some of the best board members are those who are extremely busy, connected people-so while meeting together in person as much as possible is key, ensuring that technology options are available may help engage those folks and bring an important perspective. It’s definitely a balancing act.”

Summary
Many use some form of technology to alleviate some attendance concerns. At this point, technology can help by allowing those at a distance from a board meeting to have some modest participation.

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