When nonprofit organizations turn to Build Consulting for ongoing strategic guidance in the form of an interim or part-time CIO (chief information officer), often they don’t know what to expect beyond “someone to help us make important technology decisions.”
But what should a nonprofit leader know about engaging a CIO for their organization and what should that role entail?
We asked two clients, Neil Albert, CEO and President of the DowntownDC Business Improvement District, and Meghan Gutierrez, CEO of the Lymphoma Research Foundation, to share their experiences working with a Build CIO.
Realizing the Need for a CIO
Meghan Gutierrez: “Even before I was named CEO, Lymphoma Research Foundation acquired technology without an underlying strategy of how that technology could support the lymphoma community. This impacted our constituents, our staff, and limited our ability to grow. Our community was also noticeably impacted, as we were not always able to reach all those in need of our unmatched resources, programming, or events.”
How the Build CIO Fits within the Organization
Meghan Gutierrez: “I wanted to give our CIO latitude to prioritize their energy in the way they saw fit. This said, it was important to me that they quickly establish themselves as the technology leader within the Foundation. I wanted our Build CIO to play a managerial role with our data and information colleagues, so they had someone who understood their role and value to the organization. If anything was a priority, it was giving my team a leader that was their champion.”
“Our CIO met with our teams and departments, members of the Board technology committee, and other key stakeholders early on. It formed the basis for an assessment that he presented, after a few months, about where to prioritize technology investments. Together, we determined that improving the journeys of our constituents would have the greatest impact on mission outcomes as well as fundraising.”
Neil Albert: “The Build CIO has been incredibly important in addressing our organization’s strategic challenges and priorities. He serves as a leader and authority on technology and the effects it can have for our goals. For the five years that we have engaged with Build, he has been an integral part of our IT strategic direction and has contributed to the growth we have experienced in that time.”
The Impact of a Build CIO for the Nonprofit
Neil Albert: “The impacts have included strategy and planning, introducing new applications and software, particularly in those suites that we already own, expanding utilization, and keeping our organization on the cutting edge of technology all with an eye as a nonprofit to remain fiscally responsible. Our CIO is able to leverage the expertise of the entire Build community, but also his own knowledge and expertise from his other experiences, to move our initiatives forward.”
Meghan Gutierrez: “I would say that we have become much better at, and much more capable of, making data-informed decisions. We’ve been able to challenge some anecdotal understandings of how we can serve constituents and when is the right time to engage them. Using and understanding the data, we can tell what is resonating, and what is not.”
“Some highlights that I’d share are that we have a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that help the entire organization understand that our success is directly tied to how well we engage with people with lymphoma, those seeking a deeper understanding of the disease, and those looking to fund our research. The ability to measure these KPIs did not exist for the Foundation before our CIO joined our team.”
“I’d add that, when we consider new programming or engagement opportunities, people now loop in our technology colleagues earlier. This has allowed leadership to make informed decisions that increase our reach or impact as well as making strategic investments.”
Quick to Get Up to Speed and Make an Impact
Meghan Gutierrez: “I was (pleasantly) surprised at how quickly he was able to become a member of our team and organization leadership. In my experience, external consultants can require months or even years to acclimate to a new organization. Our Build CIO was able to build trust early on with the team and the broader organization. He took the time to learn our history, understand our mission and how we wanted to work, and created a path forward.”
Interested in a Build CIO?
Each Build interim or part-time CIO takes the time to learn about the organization’s history, meet the organization where they are at now, and listen to where they want to go and what they want to achieve. Our CIO services are a partnership between Build and the nonprofit we serve. We want to help create measurable improvement and provide a deeper understanding of how technology affects your organization.
Together with your team, we use technology to accelerate the strategies, programs and activities of your organization by:
- Providing part-time or full-time CIO leadership, in short-term and long-term situations
- Developing, communicating, and achieving buy-in for a technology strategy and roadmaps
- Planning, managing and overseeing key projects
- Assisting in the management of key technology (including software and IT infrastructure) and vendor relationships
- Facilitating technology change through stakeholder analysis, change management, and rollout plans
- Helping staff and leaders to grow in key information and technology skill-sets
Ready to advance your organization’s technology abilities and plan for the future? Contact Build to start the conversation.