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Chelsea Marburger: Millennial Nonprofit Leader
As executive director of Project Purse Indianapolis, Chelsea Marburger meets with her own organization's board, and serves elsewhere as board member.

There’s no shortage of think pieces casting them in an unflattering light, but Millennials like Chelsea Marburger have the nonprofit community buzzing. Marburger and her cohorts arguably form a more service-oriented, meaning-seeking, and tech-savvy group than previous generations. Such qualities make Millennials poised to usher in a new era of nonprofit governance.

Marburger embodies those traits as well as any Millennial. In only two years after graduating with a degree in civic leadership, she founded the nonprofit Project Purse Indianapolis (PPI). The organization empowers women in Central Indiana by providing them with gently used purses filled with donated necessities. They also include handwritten notes “from woman-to-woman with words of hope, affirmation, and courage.

Ready to serve, ready to lead

“I’ve always worked in the nonprofit space,” Marburger says. “I’ve been the executive director trying to wrangle board members, but I’ve also been the board member someone is trying to wrangle.”

Beyond leading PPI and managing its board, Chelsea Marburger also serves on the young professionals (YP) board of CHIP: The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention. Oh, and she’s the executive director of the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association, one of the largest community associations in Indianapolis.

“I don’t need any more digital correspondence.”

Imagine managing and serving on multiple boards. Chelsea Marburger’s inboxes stacked up with so many emails, she often had to force herself to step away from them.

“I got so many emails, it became a full-time job to talk and email about the work I should have been out in the community actually doing,” she says.

Project Purse Indianapolis handwritten note

Handwritten notes offer words of encouragement to women in need. (Photo courtesy of Project Purse Indianapolis)

And it wasn’t just email. Messages bombarded Marburger over every channel. “Emails, Facebook, and LinkedIn messages,” she says. “Even texts.”

The more messages she received, the less time she had to lead. “The moment the needle goes past a certain point on administration, I’m no longer doing the job I was paid to do.”

Making technology a priority, not an afterthought

Chelsea Marburger saw enough in her education, volunteer experience, and early days leading a nonprofit to realize the value of board management software.

She recalls the headache of getting Project Purse Indianapolis started. “We were using Google Drive, but we couldn’t communicate, take polls, or schedule meetings,” she says.

“The moment the needle goes past a certain point on administration, I’m no longer doing the job I was paid to do.”

She told herself, “We need to streamline our communications, we need to make everything available to the board at all times.”

And with that, she made a decision. “I wasn’t going to start board meetings with Project Purse until we were on [Boardable].”

How Boardable made life better for Chelsea Marburger (and her boards)

Empowered to empower

Like many Millennials passionate about public service, Marburger serves on multigenerational boards. Comfort with software platforms (and technology in general) differs wildly from member to member.

Chelsea Marburger unselfie

Chelsea Marburger challenges perceptions of Millennials through her passion for nonprofit service. (Photo courtesy of Project Purse Indianapolis)

“It’s difficult to implement change—technological or otherwise—to established, successful businesses and nonprofit boards,” she says. “You’re working with people that are already movers and shakers and have full calendars with established workflows and ways of communicating.”

But Marburger found that Boardable’s straightforward design helps established board members learn the portal as they go. Now, when responding to requests, she often only needs to say, “It’s in Boardable.”

Leading by example

After using Boardable at Project Purse Indianapolis, Marburger saw its potential for the other boards she served on, starting with CHIP.

However, she shrewdly didn’t take Boardable directly to CHIP’s board of directors. Instead, she encouraged her fellow young professionals to demonstrate Boardable’s value by raising the money for it and using it themselves.

“Because of CHIP’s staff dedication to the platform, the YP board is truly ‘in the know’ at all times,” she says. Boardable helps the YP board be “more efficient, active, and able to do more for the organization.”

Documents secured and accessible

Every board has its primary pain points. In Marburger’s experience, document management consistently ranks near the top. “The number one thing is having updated versions of documents available” she says, using MKNA to illustrate why.

Volunteer driving to Project Purse Indianapolis event

A volunteer drives loaded purses to an event. (Photo courtesy of Project Purse Indianapolis)

“MKNA is an ideal client for Boardable,” she explains. “We have a large board with various committees that have ongoing cases and concerns. Boardable would provide a home for all the documentation with easy access and tracking.”

Boardable streamlines that document management in multiple ways. For instance, documents can attach directly to meetings or message threads for easy reference. They’re also stored on a secure server for access at any time in the future.

Time saved = money saved

How much time does Boardable save Marburger and her boards? “At least a few hours a week,” she says.

“It’s multiple hours saved a week, and during a board meeting,” she says. “If you only have 90 minutes [for a meeting], you [can’t] spend 30 or 60 minutes just digging things up.”

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