After having been on the board of a not-for-profit (NFP) for several years, essentially because they’re in education and weren’t using technology, we’re finally seeing some progress. An update call today with their internal IT strategy team had me finally feeling like we’d turned the corner.
It’s taken several steps, as just advocating wasn’t enough. While I had to educate some of the board, they were supportive enough, but it wasn’t enough to penetrate the leadership of the NFP. An outside initiative that would’ve made significant progress didn’t occur, but raised enough awareness that things got easier. Along the way, several initiatives were started, but lost focus and died.
The final step was the Board finally choosing to have, as one of it’s standing committees, an IT Committee. For obvious sins, I chair the Board’s IT committee, and raised the NFP’s awareness that the Board was serious. Finally, the Board’s IT committee asked the NFP to create an IT Strategy, and that catalyzed effective action. It took some work to get them to identify what an IT strategy should be (despite resources like TechSoup, though their original good document disappeared), but led to them hiring a key person, and things have really turned around.
A team of young folks along with the existing IT staff, savvy and scattered around the NFP have been selected to lead the initiative. They’re thinking strategically now, and today on the phone talked about the success one portal is having, about their three phase plan to redevelop the website and IT infrastructure, and their thinking about how to leverage technology more effectively.
I really felt that they’re finally pulling a) together and b) in the right direction. I can’t take credit for it happening, but I reckon I played a role in catalyzing the work and in coaching the direction, and it’s wonderful to see the outcomes. It’s been frustrating at times as it seems to have taken so long, but my learning is that these things take time when you don’t have direct control.
The nice thing is that the culture of the NFP is positive and supportive of learning, it’s just that they’ve been so successful with the old model that it’s hard to see a need to change. But change happens, and fortunately it’s happening here, now.
There’ll be some missteps, undoubtedly, and some waste of effort, but I do believe they’re on the right path. Now, to get the Board to start using IT more effectively…