The Board Administrator: A Q&A Guide for Nonprofits

See how Boardable can boost board administrator efficiency and team engagement.

How do you bring busy professionals from all walks of life together to do the important work of a nonprofit board? It requires someone who can coordinate schedules and fully cover the nitty-gritty administrative details. There needs to be someone who can follow up on research and essential tasks, ensuring everyone has the resources necessary to succeed. That person is the board administrator.

Nonprofit board administrators may be quietly influential, but they’re influential nonetheless. They possess deep knowledge and a range of skills that can positively impact the boards they support. The executive director, the board chair, and their team rely on them for their expertise, and the whole organization benefits from their insights and governance facilitation.

With everything that depends on this individual, it’s crucial that your team builds out a complete understanding of the board administrator role and its correlating duties.

At Boardable, we’ve worked with thousands of nonprofit boards with a wide range of causes. We’ve seen the inner workings of these organizations, and after plenty of experience in the field, we’re confident that we possess exceptional knowledge of the board administrator position.

Using what we’ve learned, we’ve put together this complete Q&A guide to help nonprofit professionals like you completely understand the board administrator position. Here’s what we’ll cover:

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A nonprofit board administrator is vital to the success of the entire organization. Ready to learn how your board administrator can make a real difference and leave a positive legacy at your organization? Let’s dive in.

Let's explore the basics of the board administrator position.

What is a board administrator?

A nonprofit board administrator coordinates and administers activities related to the organization’s board of directors and the associated committees. They are the person who coordinates all meetings, generates all reports, and communicates with members regarding all board and committee work. In essence, the board administrator works closely with the board to achieve organizational goals.

Further, this individual typically reports to a supervisor or manager, such as the nonprofit’s executive director. This position may sound like it comes with a lot of responsibility—and that’s because it does! In this individual’s time at the organization, they’ll gain exposure to the nonprofit’s inner workings by balancing a range of tasks.

With a general understanding of the position, let’s dive deeper into specific duties, as well as how this position is compensated.

Board Administrator Responsibilities

The board administrator juggles several responsibilities, all of which can be characterized as vital services that the board needs to function.

For instance, the board administrator’s responsibilities often include:

  • Planning board meetings, including time, date, location, and inviting attendees
  • Tracking and following up on board meeting RSVPs
  • Preparing and distributing meeting agendas and documents ahead of meetings
  • Researching answers to questions that come up during meetings
  • Preparing meeting minutes for approval and distributing when ready

At many nonprofits, the board administrator also doubles as the executive director’s assistant. As such, this individual carries many additional responsibilities that are separate from the board administrator role. These obligations vary depending upon the unique needs of the executive director and the organization.

Board Administrator Salary

On average, a board administrator in the United States makes $90,111, but the salary range typically falls between $69,397 and $111,281. These numbers are according to this official resource from Salary.com.

Of course, a board administrator’s salary depends on a wide range of factors, such as:

  • Education level
  • Official certifications
  • Additional skills
  • Previous experience
  • Location
  • Org size and budget

Keep in mind that this position typically has a few prerequisites, such as a Bachelor’s degree and 2 to 4 years of related experience. As with any job, requirements and benefits vary across organizations.

There are several admirable habits that a board administrator should have.

What are the habits of a good board administrator?

As a nonprofit board administrator, you may feel like you’re constantly running around tackling all types of tasks and wearing many hats. This is a common situation for board administrators everywhere because this position often juggles a variety of activities.

So long as you have good habits under your belt, you can become an efficiency machine. In turn, your board will be successful and make strategic progress toward goals.

Let’s walk through a handful of positive habits that are characteristic of an effective nonprofit board administrator.

This graphic explores the different effective board administrator habits.

1. Establish routines.

By nature, humans are creatures of habit. When you establish regular routines in your daily schedule that you stick to, those routines will soon become habits. When routines become habits, our brains put them on autopilot. This means we can carry out the tasks involved in those routines without even thinking about them. This allows us to get those tasks done faster and provides us with more time to do other things.

The more routines involving board-related tasks you can establish in your schedule, the more time you will free up for getting other things done. Using a resource like BoardSource.org can help you develop those routines and make your board administrator role a more highly efficient and enjoyable one.

2. Do the most important things first.

Do you often find yourself getting bogged down in an overflowing to-do list every day—with more tasks on it than you could possibly accomplish in a day? To be an effective nonprofit board administrator, try focusing on the three most important things on your list first. Do these things as soon as you get to the office before you do anything else.

With the have-to’s out of the way, you’ll be more relaxed and energized to focus on the rest of your tasks.

3. Don’t be a multitasker.

Our culture tends to laud multitaskers as being geniuses of productivity. However, multitasking is probably actually bringing down your efficiency. Only a tiny percentage of humans can do it well. The simple fact is that most humans cannot do more than one thing at a time and do those things well.

Even if you think you can multitask, it is likely just an illusion created by quickly shifting your attention between different things. You can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

Become a more efficient board administrator by giving your full attention to one task at a time. You will perform that responsibility better and complete it more quickly than if you try to do several things at once.

4. Focus on what you enjoy and delegate the rest.

Don’t feel like you have to be a jack of all trades. Even if you love what you do, there are likely parts of the job you don’t enjoy, which is only natural. When you pursue something you love, you will do it with more enthusiasm, energy, and efficiency.

If you love fundraising, focus on that part of your job. If community outreach is your thing, look for ways to get involved. And, if planning meetings for your board uplifts you, make the most of those planning sessions.

Delegate anything else that doesn’t absolutely have to be done by you. You will get more done and be happier about your role at your nonprofit because of it. That’s what effective board administrators do!

5. Find digital tools to make your life easier.

With the ever-changing technological landscape, more tools than ever can make the board administrator’s job easier. Adopting effective tools will allow your team to automate many daily tasks and bridge existing communication gaps.

A little research online will yield excellent organizational tools to automate almost everything you do. For instance, Canva is an excellent tool for designing simple social media or print pieces—perfect for building out your nonprofit’s marketing plans. Capterra is a reliable resource for reviews of software to help you manage fundraising.

There are convenient digital tools that streamline board operations. Boardable is a one-stop app for your board management tasks, such as:

  • Finding the best meeting time and sharing meeting details
  • Preparing efficient agendas
  • Securely housing and sharing documents
  • Assigning and following up on board members’ tasks
  • Measuring progress toward goals

Most digital tools have a free trial version you can try out to see if they are a good fit for your needs. We suggest starting with a board portal like Boardable’s to cover everything you need as board administrator—from meeting planning to task delegation.

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Board and staff members can take several steps to ensure they're supporting the board administrator's work.

What can nonprofits do to ensure sufficient administrative support?

Professional work is comprised of using knowledge and research, applying constantly changing best practices, and leveraging other resources to create and execute strategy. On the other hand, administrative work involves supporting and building infrastructure for professional work. These roles are different yet equally important.

A successful organization makes sure its professional staff receives sufficient administrative support. This is often a moving target. Hence, it’s natural to experience growing pains when scaling these levels of work together.

So what can nonprofit professionals do to ensure sufficient administrative support? Let’s dive into a few ways your team can support this:

  • Constantly learn. Research various staff and organizational structures and systems to pinpoint improvement opportunities at your organization. Connect with other nonprofits to learn how they staff the development operation.
  • Be patient. After analyzing your workload and researching other organizational structures, your organization may not have sufficient funding to implement necessary changes. Focus on what resources you do have and what you can do with them. For instance, you may need to recruit and train volunteers to provide administrative support.

Build understanding and ownership within the organization to achieve the right level of administrative support for your professional staff. Focus on the resources and steps you need to take to effectively support your board administrator, and find ways to hold your team accountable for providing sufficient support.

Let's explore how a board administrator can encourage their fellow board members to adopt new technology.

How can a board administrator promote board portal usage?

As we touched on earlier, a board portal can help immensely in streamlining your tasks. Not all boards are early adopters of technology, but the vast majority can benefit from a dedicated platform.

Often, there are gaps, needs, and opportunities within the board’s governance practices that could benefit from technology. Your board may simply be unaware of how it can capitalize on such an investment, while others may be reluctant to adopt changes. Take the following benefits for instance:

This graphic fully explains why board administrators should promote board portal usage.

  1. More effective meetings. With dedicated meeting tools, you can automate meeting scheduling, build dynamic agendas, and take effective minutes. Additional virtual meeting tools (like video conferencing) will allow you to connect on a more personal level. Free your board from distraction, so they can spend more time focusing on effective governance and strategies to advance your mission.
  2. Improved communications. Enhance interactions between meetings with built-in communication features. There is no need for your busy board members to keep up with long email chains or play endless phone tag games. They’ll appreciate being able to collaborate and make urgent decisions with just a few clicks or taps.
  3. Higher accountability. With convenient features like a Task Manager, your team will become much more productive between meetings. Delegate specific tasks, complete with deadlines. Everyone will be able to quickly check their dashboards for their incomplete tasks, and administrators can boost accountability even more by easily following up.
  4. Quick access to important materials. As part of your board members’ duties, they’re responsible for producing and handling massive amounts of important documents. With a board portal that has a Document Center, there’s no longer a need to keep up with binders full of paper or dig up old email attachments. Everything will be available in one centralized location.

It’s rare for a group of effective leaders to collectively determine out of the blue that they could more effectively lead if they had a board portal, though. In most cases, it takes a thought leader to bring forth the opportunity, conduct ample research, and create a compelling business case for such a change.

It’s up to the board administrator to determine whether the board will benefit and to communicate these benefits. As part of the administrative staff, this person should help board members visualize how the right software would play into their roles.

Remember that you’ll want to consider your board culture when you introduce significant changes like new technology. How entrenched are certain governance practices? How receptive will your chair and other board members be to the idea of implementing a board portal?

Suppose you believe your governance practices and the organization will benefit from reliance on a board portal. In that case, it’s up to the board administrator to educate board members on the opportunities it could bring. Be prepared to recognize and mitigate the discomfort some board members may have and help them manage the learning curve as they get up and running.

Conclusion & Additional Resources

The board administrator is a vital part of any nonprofit board. They handle the small details that allow the board to remain efficient with as few hiccups as possible, from lining up board meetings to doubling as the executive director’s assistant.

Without a skilled and focused individual in the role, your nonprofit board could face some serious productivity issues, making for unsteady progress toward strategic goals.

Now that you know the ins-and-outs of the vital board administrator position, you can move forward with building out this role and ensure this team member embodies all the right skills and habits.

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Looking to enhance your board’s governance strategies even further? Check out these helpful resources that we’ve pulled together:

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