I’ve learned a lot from my buddy Tom McLaughlin, but the moment I first became a devoted fangirl of his was when I heard that he had quipped, “organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
It’s true. It’s so true in nonprofit technology that it hurts every time I think about it. However, I was immediately and immensely grateful to Tom for articulating so succinctly and eloquently what had been merely tacit knowledge for me.
One of the biggest problems in any nonprofit technology implementation is the difficulty in reconciling it with the organization’s culture. It’s not just that individuals within it may not want to learn new things or do things differently – it’s that every organization is a delicate ecosystem of incentives, disincentives, alliances, and hostilities. A change in information and communication technology systems can easily upset the organization’s equilibrium. Just the same, new implementations may become necessary, and at that point the challenge is not to arrive at an abstract understanding of group dynamics, but to gain the good will and participation of all the stakeholders by demonstrating that the potential benefits of the change are far greater than the threats to the status quo.
In other words, getting buy-in becomes a crucial goal; its a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the success of the implementation. This is a cost-benefit analysis that takes place at a very emotional level at a nonprofit organization.
That’s where Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk can help. She’s just published a white paper on “Getting 100% Buy-In for Your Next Nonprofit Technology Adoption.” You can download it for free from the Community TechKnowledge web site. I strongly recommend it!
(And now for a full disclosure of financial relationship: I’ve served as a paid consultant to Kathryn’s organization, Community TechKnowledge, for some time. However, she did not ask me to endorse this white paper, and she certainly is not paying me to recommend it.)
NTEN: Change is a quarterly journal for nonprofit executives, and I’m pleased to say that the “askDeborah” podcast is one of its regular features. The journal is available by subscription only but is free to all.
The December edition of NTEN: Change is out, and the podcast for this issue features a conversation about email for nonprofits. The guest expert is Gavin Murphy of Annkissam; he and I ponder a question posed by a nonprofit professional who is wondering whether to go with a free email service (such as Gmail or Hotmail), or to allocate money to pay for what the organization needs.
It’s not a simple yes or no answer, although an organization with serious needs for maintaining security and privacy in email communication is probably better off looking for something more than a free service can offer.
Gavin explains this is a very reassuring, accessible way. The whole point of the “askDeborah” podcast series – as well as the point of the NTEN: Change journal – is to address these concerns for busy people whose expertise lies in other areas of nonprofit management.
Heartfelt thanks are due all around: to Gavin, for offering his expertise; to NTEN, for publishing the segment in the quarterly journal; and to Community TechKnowledge, for underwriting the podcast series as part of its educational initiative.
My much-loved client, CTK Foundation, will start accepting applications from nonprofits for its “Heart & Soul” cash grants on Monday, December 3rd.
As usual, the foundation isn’t interested in receiving a long grant proposal with a lot of boilerplate; instead, they want each nonprofit that applies to submit a short poem about its mission.
Poems can be written by the applicant organization’s constituents, staff, board, or volunteers. It’s an opportunity to focus on what’s unique and important to you about the organization.
The signature grant of this year’s cycle will be $10,000 in cash, plus a professionally written and recorded song by the Grammy Award-winning group, the original Blind Boys of Alabama.
The other grants are:
- $10,000 HHS grant — available to an Austin, Texas-area nonprofit specializing in the provision of services to at risk children and families — a gift from the Cipione Family Foundation.
- Two $5,000 grant awards to two nonprofits in the United States.
- Five $1,000 grant awards to Community TechKnowledge, Inc. customer organizations attending the 2013 Outcomes Immersion Certification Training.
- $20,000 in matching cash grants to nonprofits for CTK software purchases.
- Three autographed guitars: one by The Original Blind Boys of Alabama, one by Los Lonely Boys, and one by Sunny Shipley.
If you’re interested, take a break from the usual grantwriting process, gather together the people who most love your mission, and bring forth a poem that expresses the heart and soul of what you do.