The un-Wired Nonprofit and the Ruler: Investing in Leadership

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 10:11am

Flickr Photo: pedrosimoes7I'm working on my presentation for the Legal Services Corporation's Technology Initiative Grants Conference -- say that three times fast! -- where I'm scheduled to talk about the un-Wired nonprofit. There are so many amazing things happening with wireless around the country, and so many more amazing things happening with mobile, that I'm having a hard time focusing.

It's a real joy to think about and explore such fun stuff for a good cause. It's definitely my favorite part of my work: dreaming big and making connections. And now is a great time to dream big. With all the buzz about social media, we've entered another heady period in the history of technology. It's cool to be a geek again!

In the middle of all that big dreaming, I was brought back to earth with a thud by an email we got here at the office this morning from marketing professional at a small organization asking about scholarships for the NTC.

She knows she needs technology to communicate effectively, but it's the same sad story of resistance from leadership. She works at an organization where duct taping a ruler to a fax machine is an acceptable fix, where Internet access goes out if it rains.

It's a funny conundrum. So many technology tools are affordable or free now that there has been real democratization across the sector. Small nonprofits can do amazing things with technology that only the big boys used to be able to afford. 

But no matter what the tools cost, no organization can take advantage when leadership isn't invested. There's a world of opportunity being wasted. And it's not really the fault of the leaders: your leadership probably never had to think about technology when they first started in the sector.

So while I want to spend my time playing with ideas, I have to remain focused on the real issue at hand. You can have the coolest tools in the world, but if you don't have good technology leadership, you won't get anything done with them.

We have to invest in our leadership before we can expect an investment in tools.

(Oh, and I'm totally inviting the author of the email to attend the conference, along with her ED)