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What Keeps the Nonprofit CIO Up at Night?

By December 5, 2016

For nonprofits today, the role of the Chief Information Officer cannot be understated. Whether you’re talking about fundraising, programs, communications, or operations, technology has to be part of the conversation, so CIOs are emerging from the back office and partnering more closely with leaders from around the organization. CIOs are becoming stewards of the culture alongside other executives and board members.

We were thrilled to host a panel with featuring two trailblazing nonprofit CIOs, Claude Edkins from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Robert Van Tuyl from Easter Seals Bay Area.

LLSeaster seals logo

The panel — moderated by’s Kelly Hardebeck and featuring our own Cheryl Porro — brought to light some of the key issues faced by the CIO of the 21st century. The discussion centered around three themes: Recruiting & Retaining Talent, Transforming Data, and Change Management.

Here are some of our favorite insights from the panel.

screenshot of panel speakers

Recruiting & Retaining Talent

    1. Make sure your recruits have a philanthropic gene that truly matches that of your institution. It’s not just about talent, but also a desire to truly drive impact. But before you can see if your recruit is a good fit, the brand of your organization’s mission has to be well articulated internally.
    2. This goes without saying, but compensation must be competitive.
    3. Understand what your employee drives are, and give them an environment to grow. Technologists are hungry to learn, so feed that hunger. We live in an era of “Motivation 2.0.” Dangling a carrot doesn’t work in 2016 — it’s more about providing autonomy, a an opportunity for mastery, and a sense of purpose.

Transforming Data

    1. It’s no surprise that big data and analytics are top-of-mind for CIOs. But before you get to analytics, you have to make sure your master data is clean, and that the transactional data on top of that is captured correctly. Otherwise, all the analytics models in the world can’t help you.
    2. Innovation is not only about data and technology, but also about culture. You have to foster a culture of embracing data as a source of true intelligence.
    3. Reward employees who embrace a culture of data in your organization. Promote their projects — from custom dashboards to new apps — widely and make sure that forward-thinking, innovative behavior is always welcome.

Change Management

    1. Treat internal IT products with the same rigor and care as if you were developing them for an external audience. You should think strategically at all times.
    2. Training’s role in change management is massively important. Especially in older organizations where your employees may know how to use consumer technologies, but aren’t adept with enterprise-wide platforms, fluency training is a must.
    3. Recognize that change is a constant journey that everyone in your organization is on together.

Thanks to Claude and Robert for joining us for such a lively and insightful discussion. Watch the full recording:

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