Australian Board Portal - Choosing a Board Portal for your Not-for-Profit


Governance Australian Board Portal - Choosing a Board Portal for your Not-for-Profit

Published: November 20, 2017
Read Time: 5 minutes

Australian board portal

Are you seeking an Australian Board Portal for your not-for-profit organisation?

You might have heard that an Australian board portal is a critical part of an effective not-for-profit, charity or school board’s toolkit.

In today’s fast paced environment many not-for-profit organisations are 100% committed to building an effective board (focused on governing rather than managing) to increase organisational impact and success.

Organisation’s are typically doing this by building their board members governance skills and knowledge. Plus many Australian not-for-profit boards are getting good at recruiting great board members with the right skill sets to govern their organisations. On the whole Australian not-for-profit boards are doing pretty well.

However a key area where many not-for-profit boards fall down is the administration of their board.

The administrative side of the board is easy to forget as the focus in Australian boardrooms (and in board or director education from well known board professional development providers) is typically on building the skills and knowledge of board members, it isn’t on streamlining the operations of the board. While this focus is by no means bad, it has meant that the operations and administration of the boardroom are neglected by many not-for-profit boards.

It is not unusual to find a situation where technology solutions have been implemented to streamline or improve the organisation’s frontline operations while the admin person responsible for keeping the boardroom and meetings humming along is drowning in a sea of in-efficiency (sometimes without even realising it and without complaint). Even in some of Australia’s most well regarding and best governed not-for-profits the board administration tasks are still done the same way they were 20 years ago (with paper and manual processes).

This is why getting an Australian board portal is critical for your not-for-profit board. Relieving the pressure on the person or persons doing the board administration work frees them up to be more productive and focus on quality work rather than busy work. An Australian board portal solution will help you do this.

What should you look for in your Australian board portal software?

1. Australian board portal for Australian organisations

If your not-for-profit organisation is based in Australia then the number one thing (after checking off functionality requirements) that you should be looking for in your board portal is that it is Australian owned and operated.

There are literally hundreds of board portals and board meeting software solutions available to you, from hundreds of providers around the globe. However 98% of these are not Australian board portals, their legal entities and operations are not based in Australia.

If your organisation is based in Australia you should be seeking a board portal supplier whose legal entity is based in Australia. This is because these entities are regulated by and subject to the same set of laws as your organisation (with the exception of specific differences between not-for-profits/charities and private/public companies). Additionally serious breaches and disputes will be able to be dealt with in Australian courts and mediation processes.

Over the years there have been quite a few pieces of board portal software built in Australia, however today of the 15 or more alternatives that have operations in Australia, many are now owned by foreign entities. With quite a few well known board portal brands being owned by a single foreign private equity group.

Today there are approximately five Australian board portal options that are Australian owned and operated. One example of a 100% Australian owned and operated Australian board portal is Our Cat Herder.

2. Data location

Data privacy and disclosure laws are complex – as soon as that data is hosted offshore things can get even more convoluted. But if the board portal provider you are using is an Australian owned and their data centres are located within Australia, things become slightly more straight forward (the gist being that Australian laws apply to their entity and the data they host on your behalf).

If your organisation is Australian based you should always choose a board portal solution where the data is physically located in Australia. If it is not clear where the data is stored, ask. If the provider can’t or won’t give you a straight answer on the data’s location then find one that will.

All of the data stored in Our Cat Herder is hosted and secured in data centres physically located in Australia.

3. Currency fluctuations

Another issue for many Australian organisations, particularity not-for-profit organisations, that use an overseas board portal provider is that you must often pay the subscription in US dollars (or another currency).

This exposes your organisation to currency fluctuations on subscription fees, this can be problematic because each subscription charge can be different simply because the currency moved. This means that while you might have budgeted to spend a specific amount that month or year on your board portal, the amount you have to pay is suddenly higher. Choosing an Australian board portal provider who charges in Australian dollars means you’re not going to get bill shock when the currency fluctuates.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately if your not-for-profit organisation is based in Australia choosing an Australian board portal that is 100% Australian owned and operated over one that is foreign owned is worth serious consideration. Plus it’s always better to support local businesses as they contribute positively to the local community and economy.

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