After more than ten years with the Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO), Executive Director Barbara Moore knows the importance of a strong board. Barbara was hired on by now-mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, as the first employee of an organization that was, until she came on board, an informal meeting of like-minded individuals. She realized that the name recognition of Garcetti wouldn’t be enough to carry the board through fundraising over the next decade and dedicated herself to building a strong board framework that emphasizes stability and scalability.
Now, ten years after she joined the DMO, Barbara spends a majority of her time working to drive various initiatives across the organization. While the DMO is affiliated with the Democratic National Committee, they are responsible for their own fundraising and financial contributions. The vast majority of DMO funds come from organized labor, corporations, trade associations, and other organizations that want to connect with local elected officials for their business purposes. Many donors are often democrats themselves that want to support the organization, but they are ultimately looking to interface with municipal government.
Within the Democratic party, the DMO is a “farm team” as well as a base infrastructure. Although some municipal employees serve on a town council without any interest in running for a larger office, they are able to run election day operations, are tied into opinion leaders in their community, and are critically engaged with the larger democratic party. Many DMO-affiliated municipal employees are entry points of information and insight for others looking to adopt a larger role within the democratic party
Unlike many nonprofit boards which typically are composed of people across different backgrounds and different jobs, the DMO board functions much like a trade association, with all members serving as democratic municipal officials. There are currently 15 board members and Barbara hopes to hit the goal 20 board members by the end of 2020.
As is fitting a national nonprofit, DMO board members are located all over the country. On the executive committee alone, there are members in Detroit, Tacoma, Savannah, and Los Angeles, just to name a few cities. This means scheduling times for board meetings – especially now that everything is virtual – can be tricky to say the least. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the full board would meet in person three times a year. Two of these would be while all board members were attending the National League of Cities conference (a nonpartisan organization for municipal officials) and then again once for a national board and advisory board retreat.
Even before COVID-19, there would be monthly meetings by phone between these in-person events. Over the past few months, everything has shifted online. One of the biggest challenges for the DMO board has been the lack of in-person relationship building and, of course, knowing that people’s attention may be wandering during virtual meetings.
Barbara and the DMO leadership team held a strategic planning process a few years ago and one of the biggest challenges they uncovered was that – because their board is a group of very busy elected officials who did most of their work from their mobile devices – people were missing updates and notifications and had trouble staying on top of documentation and critical items. The DMO organization searched for a platform that would allow board members to keep everything in one place and to build board member accountability.
“There was a clear lack of accountability and a lack of organization in terms of history and documents,” said Barbara on her team’s hunt for a new board management platform.
The DMO team looked at quite a few solutions before settling on Boardable. Many of the solutions they researched were built more for corporate boards than nonprofit boards. The DMO has a smaller nonprofit board and they needed a flexible tool that could scale with the team. They also needed the customer support and resources that could give their board members the freedom to learn on their own.
The DMO board started using Boardable in the fall of 2018 with incredible results. Barbara was able to get in the door early and try out the solution before rolling it out to the entire board. In addition to rolling out Boardable, the team transitioned to a consent agenda for all committee and council reports. With Boardable, the team could easily track these consent agenda items and manage board meeting time more efficiently.
Additionally, Barbara and team were able to eliminate printed documentation and board books for their in-person meetings. Now, board members are asked to refresh their Boardable before meetings to make sure they have the latest agenda in front of them, since many things are added in crunch time right before meetings. All board members have the latest and greatest agendas in front of them ready to get down to business.
Since implementing Boardable, Barbara and the DMO board have seen a measurable increase in effectiveness and efficiency. Every board member knows exactly where things are, what they’re responsible for, and what needs to be done before and after board meetings.
“Many board members have said that Boardable is the best investment the organization has ever made,” Barbara said.
Her favorite feature is the ability to attach documents directly to an agenda. Before, referring back to email attachments was very complicated. Now, everyone can follow along with items and follow along with agendas when they are on their computers.
Boardable has a reputation for listening to its customers and growing and changing alongside their needs, and Barbara is really excited for the new things ahead.
Looking forward, Barbara is most excited for the virtual meeting feature as well as the electronic signatures addition. With this feature, board members can sign a document within Boardable that notifies other board members or organization leaders when they read or agreed to a specific item.
“I would recommend Boardable because it does empower board members to work collaboratively more, it creates accountability for both board and staff members, and it has a very clear structure and organization.”
Interested in how to make your board of directors more productive through the effective use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more—all in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.