John Dawe specializes in technology integration, project management, fundraising, communications, marketing, and strategic planning at Dawe Consulting. In this interview, John explains the importance of having a wired board.
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Watch the full interview above or read the highlights below.
What is a “wired” board?
AE: Today we’re talking about wired boards. What is a wired board?
JD: A wired board is a board that effectively uses technology in governance and generative thinking. We as nonprofit leaders so often use in our communications, in our fundraising, in internal work, in our presenting … and then we step into the board room and have tomes of paper, and binders and all of that.
AE: It’s true. I never thought about a wired board before.
JD: The wired board model has changed. We proposed to look at organizations that were using these tools and how were they using them effectively, and how has it changed how they do governance work at the board level. What we found out is, most organizations aren’t. They are not using it at all.
What wired boards turned into was a project to educate boards about technology in the board room.
How to wire your board
AE: Oh, good. Give us some examples. What can our viewers do to wire their boards?
JD: Our boards should start using list-serves or email communication groups to do a lot of board work.
Most nonprofits shy away from using technology for two reasons: (1) the staff isn’t comfortable using it, or (2) they feel it’s too expensive. But with all of the free and inexpensive tools like Google Docs and Dropbox, UberConference for conference calls and things like that, organizations can easily afford things. They should be doing filesharing, and they should do shared calendaring.
AE: Any other special sorts of technology in addition to communication and filesharing?
JD: There are services, an example would be a group meet app, that allows you to text messaging lists. I’m on the board of Equality Pennsylvania and we have board members all across the state, and it’s hard to get a message to them all quickly, so we use apps like GroupMe to send out a text message when something important happens that we need board feedback on.
We have separate email lists for different committees. We have a special group on Facebook for our groups rapid response team.
Technology as an accelerator
AE: What parting thoughts or next steps for those organizations that are most interested in getting wired boards?
JD: From the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, and he said that technology is not the solution to your problem, it’s an accelerator. So, once you figure out the solution, use technology to accelerate that solution so you can speed things along. Then you can get to the governance discussions that boards should be having.
AE: We want viewers to embrace technology, take one step at a time. Maybe pick one thing, whether it’s Google Docs or group texting, that they say, for this year we’re going to invest in this technology — and then at least they’re moving in the right direction.
Watch the full interview for more words of wisdom from John.
Is your board wired up? What tools are you using that save you time when working with your board? Let me and John know in the comments.