Some of the most outstanding organizations that make the greatest impact on the world are nonprofits. Unfortunately, it tends to be the nature of the beast that nonprofits are underfunded and understaffed in crucial positions, perhaps none more than the role of the chief technology officer (CTO). The impact that technology can have in empowering nonprofit organizations cannot be understated, which makes the task of finding a fractional executive all the more difficult.
This is what has inspired our team at Computers in Ministry (CIM) to create this guide for all nonprofits. Throughout this piece, we will answer questions like:
Join us on this journey as we break down fractional executive services and how they can benefit your nonprofit.
It can be helpful to think of a fractional leader as a part-time C-suite executive (these are the senior leaders at an organization). Why would anyone want a position like a chief technology officer (CTO), chief finance officer (CFO), or chief information officer (CIO) to be a part-time commitment? For nonprofits, the answer can be as simple as freeing up time and energy for the CEO, who is likely performing the tasks reserved for other executives at a for-profit business. As your organization grows, the need for more C-suite executive roles must grow in order to keep up with expanding demands.
That moves us to another common question around this topic, what are fractional services? In essence, fractional services are everything we have just described above and the third party that provides those services to a nonprofit (or other organizations). This third-party organization could be a “middle-man” contractor and is typically used when it would not make sense for a nonprofit to hire someone full-time.
Our team at CIM has a wealth of experience in fractional services, and it is not from pairing a nonprofit with the next available CTO. No, we design a custom partnership agreement that perfectly fits your model and is alongside you throughout the entire process of hiring and working with a fractional CTO. We want CIM to feel like a new branch of your existing team, not some external nuisance.
Based on the previous section, we can now identify a fractional CTO as an experienced individual brought on to perform the full-time duties of a technology officer for a “fraction” of the time. It is important to understand that while the time a fractional CTO is able to dedicate to your team is limited, the general responsibilities will be the same. Let’s go further to answer, “What does a fractional CTO do?”
There are plenty more responsibilities associated with this role. The idea is that the CTO will head any major projects or changes that involve the technology that directly impacts the business. It should also be said that when you have a fractional executive of any kind, there will need to be teamwork from the other high-level team members when the CTO is not in. Now that we know what a fractional leader and CTO are, we can dive into the world of fractional services.
During your research, you may have come across a variety of archetypes for this position. For our sake, we are going to discuss four types that should encompass any other varieties you may find. They are the infrastructure, planner, consumer-focused, and thinker CTO. You may find different names for each type online, but for the sake of this guide, we will use these terms. The importance of understanding the different types of CTO is to ensure that you bring the right individual into the organization. All the experience in the world will not make a difference if both parties are not the right fit for each other.
The world of nonprofits is wholly unique compared to for-profit organizations. After breaking down all of the responsibilities and roles that a CTO may play for an organization, it is not uncommon for nonprofits (especially smaller ones) to wonder if they need a CTO at all.
The most straightforward answer is to bring in some extra expertise to take the organization to new heights. Most nonprofit leaders are swamped with their daily responsibilities, so other strategic needs can end up falling to the wayside. As we briefly mentioned earlier, bringing on another leader can alleviate the pressure and catapult the organization into a new digital age with that extra help. Let’s take a look at a list of just a handful of things that a fractional CTO could bring to a nonprofit.
A better understanding of what a fractional CTO is and what they can bring to a nonprofit is only half of the battle. The next part of the process can easily become the most expensive and exhausting part. It is finding the perfect match.
Easier said than done, but any organization can start the process off on the right foot to help ensure they find the best fit. First, you need to decide how you will conduct this search. The three most common methods are in-person interviews, job boards, and talent agencies. Each of these options are viable but have issues that may prove to be less than ideal. In-person interviews take time and limit your potential talent pool to the local community for the most part. Job boards suffer for the opposite reason. Posting to a site like this can result in tens of thousands of responses that can be exhausting to comb through, where more than likely, your next CTO won’t be in the bunch. Finally, talent agencies can be biased towards one of their clients and end up not pairing you with the best fit.
While your organization attempts to figure out how to find a CTO, we feel that it would be beneficial to cover what you need to keep an eye out for in your search. Here are some of the elements you may need.
All of these options allow an organization to cast a wide net for its search. This can come around and end up being negative, as you can fall into the trap of quantity over quality. One way to circumnavigate this issue is to go through a source that specializes in technology needs for nonprofits.
A company like CIM is a match made in heaven for a nonprofit looking for a solution to its tech woes. Any of our three packages can boost the technological power of a nonprofit depending on its needs.
Acquiring a fractional CTO is not without its hurdles, and we want to make sure your organization is aware of these potential barriers before making the investment.
The challenges all come down to the right person being a fit for the organization and vice versa. However, your options are not limited to a single new addition to your team. What if you were able to bring on an entire organization that was able to function as your fractional CTO?
Learn, Build, and Scale. These are the three tent poles supporting the fractional services we provide for all of our customers. We understand all the challenges that nonprofits must go through in order to function, and we want to help because we believe organizational mission should drive technology, not the other way around.
Depending on your organizational need, our team can function as trainers on all things related to IT. We can also help serve alongside the current leadership team to ensure that all your technological needs are accounted for.
If you want to take your nonprofit to the next level, contact us today!