This is a long article that finally gets to the point of “This is a tall order for a leader. It moves the CIO from being the one to say “Here is your computer, and your database, and your file system, and this is how you enter information and save files,” to someone who says, “Here are all the ways you can work with information, now go to town and see how you can use this stuff to get our goals met!.  here is often a metaphor used for the difference between “Giving someone fish” and “Teaching someone how to fish.” For the future role of the CIO, this metaphor will be a little different. It will be the difference between “Giving someone a fishing pole and telling them what to catch” and “Giving them the river, they have their own pole, and they know what to catch.”

The Future Role of the CIO in the NonProfit | NTEN.

Everything we thought that technology would do to democratize information is happening, and it’s happening in ways that we didn’t dream of. So do we still need an IT department, or a CIO?

This is the deal: Everything we thought that technology would do to democratize information is happening, and it’s happening in ways that we didn’t dream of. Had Arthur C. Clarke known that there would be social media, HAL and Dave in Kubric’s classic movie 2001, A Space Odyssey, would have been tweeting while making their journey to Jupiter. #monolith

The result of everyone being able to access very sophisticated technology tools with only an Internet connection has broad implications in the way we think about leading the way people work. In both the private and in the nonprofit sectors, the role of the technology department has always been to provide technology as a service, but if the functional areas of an organization that the IT department traditionally service can get this from the cloud, why do we need a technology department? Or a CIO for that matter?

Two recent events occurred that have brought into my horizon the topic of the future role of the CIO in the NPO sector. The first event was the NTC panel on IT leadership where colleagues Peter Campbell, Almin Surani, Laura Quinn and I bantered on this topic while NTEN program director Lindsey Martin-Bilbrey did her best to keep us on task. The second event was that upon returning from NTC, I was asked to speak to this same topic, as part of an interview that transpired as result of an award nomination for San Francisco Bay Area CIO of the Year.

Luckily, the themes from the recent discourse with my NTEN colleagues and those that attended the panel were still fresh in my mind, and one of those themes was that of the future role of the CIO in the NonProfit.

A key idea that emerged from the discussion from the panel was that the future role of the CIO is to ensure appropriate integration and alignment of all these exciting democratizing tools into the business strategy of the NPO. Once the CIO took care of integrating these tools, it was time to get IT out of the way and let innovation occur!

This way of looking at IT in an organization presents the CIO as less of a change agent in regards to increasing adoption of a new technology platform, but as a cultural change agent: One to get the organization to be able to incorporate all this democratized technology and put it to use toward the mission.

The success of an IT organization then can be measured by how well the organization can seamlessly executive strategic initiatives that further impact and improve efficiencies, with little dependence on IT in the traditional way.

This can be a dilemma: We want our organization to like (and to hopefully love) technology, so that they can use all this cool stuff to help propel the mission, but at the same time, we hope that all this access we are providing to the Internet is not distracting them from the task at hand. The last thing CIOs want to be in the future is just a better cyber-cop, figuring out more complex ways to monitor Internet usage, remote swipe mobile devices, and filter urls.

So, at the same as we will be empowering our employees to use all these great democratizing tools to further our missions; we also have to ensure appropriate alignment with the strategic direction of the organization while also addressing security concerns. Simply put, most CIOs get a little nervous at the thought of allowing everyone to set up their own Dropbox, Basecamp, Smartsheet, Google Docs, and the list goes on. But as CIOs we also think, “Heck, that will help them get things done without calling helpdesk and having to set up more servers!”

The role of the CIO in leadership given this dilemma will be the one who helps transform the “users” of their job, into the “owners” of their jobs.

Let me explain: In today’s world of ubiquitous access to universal communication, any person in any organization has access to all information. If you want the people who work for your organization to use these tools to their optimum potential, they have to “own” the tasks and jobs that they do for your organization.

This is a tall order for a leader. It moves the CIO from being the one to say “Here is your computer, and your database, and your file system, and this is how you enter information and save files,” to someone who says, “Here are all the ways you can work with information, now go to town and see how you can use this stuff to get our goals met!”

There is often a metaphor used for the difference between “Giving someone fish” and “Teaching someone how to fish.” For the future role of the CIO, this metaphor will be a little different. It will be the difference between “Giving someone a fishing pole and telling them what to catch” and “Giving them the river, they have their own pole, and they know what to catch.”

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I like this series of articles, but like this one the best having worked with and worked in non-profits.  The entire series can be found here and it is written by Nell Edgington, the President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability

In part 11 of our ongoing blog series, Financing Not Fundraising, we are talking about being brutally honest with your donors. If nonprofits are going to truly break free from the vicious fundraising cycle, they must find the courage to tell funders how it really is. And since board members are a nonprofit’s closest supporters and (I hope) donors, you need to stop telling them these lies as well.

If you are new to our Financing Not Fundraising blog series, the series is about how nonprofits must break out of the narrow view that traditional FUNDRAISING (individual donor appeals, events, foundation grants) will completely fund all of their activities.  Instead, they must create a broader, more strategic approach to securing the overall FINANCING necessary to create social change. You can read the entire series here.

And, if you want to learn more about how to apply the concepts of Financing Not Fundraising to your nonprofit, join us for our Financing Not Fundraising webinar on October 18, 2011.

If you want to break free of the exhausting cycle of fundraising, a key step is to start being brutally honest with funders. Here are the top 5 lies you have to stop telling donors:

    1. X% of your donation goes to the program
      The distinction between “program expenses” and “overhead” is, at best, meaningless and, at worst, destructive. You cannot have a program without staff, technology, space, systems, evaluation, research and development. It is magical thinking to say that you can separate money spent on programs from money spent on the support of programs. Donors need to understand, and you need to explain to them, that “overhead” is not a dirty word. A nonprofit exists to deliver programs. Andeverything the organization does helps to make those programs better, stronger, bigger, more effective.
    1. We can do the same program with less money
      No you can’t. You know you can’t. You are already scraping by. Don’t accept a check from a donor who wants all the bells and whistles you explained in your pitch, but at a lower cost. Explain the true costs, including administrative costs, of getting results. Politely, but firmly, explain to them that an inferior investment will yield an inferior result. If they simply can’t afford the price tag, then encourage them to find fellow funders to co-invest with.
    1. We can start a new program that doesn’t fit with our mission or strategy
      Yes that big, fat check a donor is holding in front of you looks very appealing. But if it takes your organization in a different direction than your strategy or your core competencies require, accepting it is a huge mistake. Nonprofits must constantly ensure that money and mission are aligned. Otherwise the organization will be scattered in countless directions with an exhausted staff and confused donor base. Don’t let a donor take you down that road.
    1. We can grow without additional staff or other resources
      Nonprofit staff truly excel at working endless hours with very few resources. They have perfected the concept of doing more and more with less and less. But someday that road must end. Nonprofit leaders have to be honest with donors when their staff and resources are at capacity. Because eventually program results will suffer and the donor will receive little in return for their investment.
  1. 100% of our board is committed to our organization
    If that’s true, then you are a true minority in the nonprofit sector. Every nonprofit board I know has some dead  wood. Members who ignore fundraising duties, don’t contribute to meetings, miss meetings, take the organization on tangents are always present. It’s a fact that funders want to see every board member contributing. But instead of perpetuating the myth that 100% is an achievable reality, be honest with funders. Tell them that you continually analyze each individual board member’s contributions (financial, intellectual, time) and have a clear plan for addressing deficiency, including: coaching, peer pressure, training, asking for resignations. Getting to 100% is probably never realistic, it is far better to demonstrate that you are tirelessly working toward 90%.

Stop the madness. We need to stop telling funders what they want to hear and then cursing them behind their backs when they set  unrealistic expectations. Funders must be made to understand the harsh realities of the nonprofit sector if they are ever to be expected to help bring change.

Nonprofit Organizations Franchise Businesses to Finance Services – QSR magazine.