How many people on your board have technology experience? How many understand how it plays a role in the growth of your organization and the advancement of your cause?
As an example, only six percent of board members at large banks have a background in technology. At nonprofit boards, it’s likely to be less.
While not dealing with the same issues as a large bank, nonprofits are faced with many challenges that require implementing long-term strategic tech solutions that will benefit the organization over time. A lack of understanding of how technology plays a role in this growth can damage your organization’s success by not seeing all of the big picture.
So, what can we do?
First of all, we should recognize that technology leadership is not just an operational necessity but a vehicle of growth. Your technology leadership should give you great insight into the structure and tools your organization needs. But without that insight, decisions can be made at the board level that lack the needed input from an expert.
Depending on the size of your organization, you can take a number of approaches to ensuring that the board has the technical knowledge needed to drive clear and valuable decisions. You can add a technology-savvy member to the board, use an external consultant, or rely on senior management as needed. Each have their own merits and risks.
Recruit a tech-savvy member to the board
There are obvious benefits to finding a tech expert who is invested in your cause. The challenge will be finding someone who not only has the technical background, but also has the strategic experience and planning capabilities to make an impact on the board across all areas of growth. While their know-how in the technical arena will be valuable, this individual should bring more to the table at the board level.
Work with a consultant
If your organization doesn’t have a lot of internal technical knowledge or simply doesn’t rely on technology as a conduit to growth, working with an outside consultant can be a great option. If you identify the right person, they can bring a wealth of knowledge that you can leverage to make effective decisions. Keep in mind, however, that this person is leveraging other organizations’ ideas and they may not align with your mission or values. Just because something works in one environment doesn’t mean that it’s right for you.
Build on the knowledge of your team
Lastly, leveraging your internal technology team can be a great approach. By working directly with your tech leadership, you know you have a committed group who are mission-driven, understand the current technology environment, and know how to integrate new ideas into an existing technology platform. Form a technology board sub-committee to get a board-led strategy that is informed by the tech knowledge of your team.
Having the input of a technology-savvy executive on your organization’s board will create lasting value and help speed the path to achieving your goals. Choose your approach wisely and implement a solution that fits your needs. You should see immediate returns from your investment.