In this video, Amy Eisenstein sits down with John Dawe – a specialist in technology integration, project management, fundraising, communications, marketing, and strategic planning at Dawe Consulting – to discuss the importance of having a “wired” board.

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Full Transcript:

Jay:Hello. I’m Jay Love with Bloomerang, and we’re delighted to bring you the following video. One of the things I wanted to point you to is our website where there’s additional educational materials that we provide on an ongoing basis, whether it’s a weekly webinar, ebook downloads, various blogs and etc. from experts from all across the world that will help you be better with your fundraising. Enjoy the video.

Amy:Hi, I’m Amy Eisenstein, and I am thrilled to have my friend and colleague, John Dawe, here with us today. John specializes in technology integration and project management, fundraising, communications, marketing, and strategic planning at Dawe Consulting. And I’m thrilled he’s here with us today. Hi, John.

John:Hi, Amy.

Amy:And I will just tell everybody a quick story. We have known each other for years through AFP.


Amy:And we were just reminiscing. The first real big impression I have of you is one time you introduced me at a session at AFP, and it was a first morning session and you had everybody stand up and do jumping jacks and exercising. So I just knew at that point we were going to have fun, and I think we’re going to have fun today. But today we’re talking about wired boards. What’s a wired board?

John:Wired boards is a project . . . I, thanks to AFP, did my master’s degree at North Park University in Chicago. AFP members get a discount on tuition. So I did that, and I did a project and that project was to look at wired boards. A wired board is a board that effectively uses technology in governance and generative thinking. We as nonprofit leaders and nonprofit organizations so often use technology in our communications, our fundraising, our internal work, our presenting, and then we step into the boardroom and we have tomes of paper and binders and all of that.

Amy:That’s true. I never thought about a wired board before, but it’s totally true.

John:The wired board model has changed significantly from what it was proposed. We proposed to look at the organizations that were using these tools and how were they using them effectively and how has that changed how they do governance work at the board level?


John:What we found out is most organizations aren’t. They’re not using it at all.


John:So what wired boards turned into is a project to educate nonprofits about technology in the boardroom.

Amy:Oh, good. So give us some examples. What can our viewers do to wire their boards?

John:Sure. I think a lot of boards should start using Listserv. Well, it used to be called Listserv. It’s now email communication groups to do a lot of board work.


John:They should be using . . . I’m going to put a caveat in here. Most nonprofits shy away from using technology for two reasons. They feel that the staff isn’t comfortable using it, or they feel it’s too expensive. But with all of the free and inexpensive tools, like Google Docs and Dropbox and UberConference for conference calls and things like that, organizations can easily afford things. So those are some examples. They should be doing file sharing. They should do shared calendaring.

Any:Any other sorts of special technology, in addition to the communication and file sharing, that you can think of?

John:I think there are services. An example would be a GroupMe app that allows you to build text messaging lists and things like that. Well, I’m on the board of Equality Pennsylvania, and we have board members all across the state, and they all work in different fields, and so 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 board’s rapid response team. So if something happens that the whole board maybe can’t be aware of, but the board at the governance level has established a rapid response team. And what that does is it empowers that committee to make urgent decisions when the rest of the board can’t be there. And it’s not just the Executive Committee. It’s communication specialists and attorneys and people who are very used to making quick and educated decisions on the fly.

Amy:Great. All right. What parting thoughts or next steps for those organizations that are most interested in getting wired boards and into the technology? What are the parting thoughts you want to share with them?

John:I think my parting thought would be from the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. He said that technology is not the solution to your problem or the solution to anything. It’s an accelerator.


John:So once you figure out the solution, use technology to accelerate that solution so you can speed things along, and then you can get to the generative governance discussions that boards should be having . . .


John:. . . and not taking up time with all the other stuff that we [spend 00:05:57].

Amy:I think that’s such a good analogy. So we want viewers to embrace technology, take one step at a time, maybe pick one thing, whether it’s Google Docs or group texting, or whatever it is that they say, “For this year we’re going to invest in this technology, whether it’s expensive or not expensive, and we’re going to invest in ourselves in terms of training and the board,” and then one thing each year so that it’s step by step and at least they’re moving in the right direction.


Amy:Yeah, great. Well, thank you so much for being here.

John:Thank you.

Amy:Loved having you. I’ll talk to you soon.

John:Very good.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.