19 February 2020

Virtually everyone’s a winner – Nordea-fonden sets up electronic board meetings

Our recent introduction of electronic board meetings is a huge step forward for us in terms of improving the foundation’s relationship with grantees, as the time needed to process their applications is greatly reduced. It also makes a strong statement about sustainability at a time when the effects of excess travelling are increasingly under scrutiny.

Since the end of 2019, our eight board members have supplemented their traditional meetings in the boardroom with electronic meetings in front of their home computer. During these, the board examines the many thousands of applications that are made each year to the foundation’s funds for local projects and student grants respectively. Last year, these two pools received approximately 5,700 applications from a total of 6,642.

With 10 e-board meetings per year, we have brought down our response time from 4-5 months to 2-3 months. And that’s precisely what many of our grant applicants have been asking us to do. Last year we did a user survey among the applicants for our local fund. 94 per cent found it easy, but several associations also wanted faster answers to their applications.

Seven days to get through the agenda

Our e-board meetings work the same way as any normal physical board meeting. They are subject to a set of rules and have an agenda that the board members have seven days to process.

To enter the virtual boardroom, members must log on to a secure digital platform. Here the agenda is presented and each item is equipped with a list of settings with relevant information about the application.

Each member can approve or reject the pending applications and may also leave comments, which are then discussed at the next physical meeting of the Board of Directors.

Once all members have stepped out of the virtual boardroom, the administration draws up a summary, which will be sent shortly after and approved at the next physical board meeting.

The board members have welcomed the format and the more frequent opportunity to discuss local applications. The initiative has also helped the secretariat’s grant flow become more stable with fewer peaks.

With more meetings and more time for decision-making, the new e-board meetings provide more flexibility when it comes to deciding on many applications. That said, the number of board meetings has also increased considerably: 15 (5 physical, 10 virtual).

Fewer rejections and more awards

A knock-on effect of the more frequent meetings and shorter response times is that we expect to be able to accommodate more applications.

We have previously had to reject a number of applications to both our local and student funds because their otherwise qualified applications could not be processed until the desired activity or study trip was already underway or even over. That’s all about to change.

We are now able to respond positively to these applications, and as such we have also increased our annual grants via the local pool from DKK 25 million to DKK 30 million. More money, more applicants, less administration.

New user survey on the way

Of course, no new initiative is complete without the magic word: evaluation. In addition to evaluating the Board’s new workflow, this spring we are also launching a new user survey to determine whether the shorter processing time actually means less rejection letters. Watch this space for the results!


Tine Wickers

Head of Communications, Nordea-fonden