Recruiting the Right CIO for a Non-Profit

December 9, 2022 – Chief information officers are an indispensable tool for helping organizations fulfill their mission for the social or demographic they serve. A major investment in differentiating a non-profit, a quality CIO requires a unique set of technical and cultural skills. So how does one identify the right CIO for their non-profit?

A new report from DHR Global’s Ted Yemm and Sal DiFranco explains that there are several factors to consider to help you make the right hire. “Organizations are increasingly using technology to distinguish themselves, improve speed to market and drive efficiency,” the report said. “It is a common thread across all sectors, including the fast-paced world of financial services and traditional industrial manufacturing. Even tech giants are differentiating their companies’ capabilities with disruptive IT professionals.”

In the last 10 years, DHR’s chief information officer practice has conducted searches across various industries, ranging from Fortune 25 organizations to middle market private equity backed niche companies, and has seen a broad landscape of CIOs and IT operating models. During this time, the firm has seen an increase in the number of chief information officer-related search opportunities that have risen in the non-profit sector. The role of a CIO in a non-profit has become increasingly important and complex. They are an indispensable tool for helping organizations fulfill their mission for the social or demographic they serve. So how does one identify the right CIO for a non-profit?

The DHR report says that it’s important to consider several factors:

Business Model

Business models in the non-profit sector vary from centrally driven organizations to large federations with loose affiliation at the national levels, according to the DHR report. “Understanding the business model of an organization is necessary for finding the right technology leader,” the report said. “In a highly decentralized and federated model, the chief information officer must be able to influence a large set of constituents without having complete authority over decisions, so these leaders must come well-equipped for communicating the technology roadmap and getting buy-in at the member, donor, and chapter levels of these organizations.”

Ted Yemm serves as a principal within the global advanced technology and CIO/CTO practices specializing in digital, information technology, engineering, product, data, and security functions across all practices. He also has an industry focus in enterprise software, fintech, private equity, healthcare software & technology, and industrial IOT across multiple functions.

Future Vision

COVID has deeply affected many businesses and the way they operate. DHR notes that non-profits have gone from catering to large donor events, putting on fundraising activities and building communities to looking at their future in a more virtual way. CIOs must adapt technology to ecommerce, virtual reality and online events to pave the way for a new type of business in a space that will continue to evolve.


“Software vendors have continued to invest in products geared specifically toward non-profits,” the DHR report said. “Whether it be data and analytic solutions, donor management systems or member experience software, these software vendors are focusing on the non-profit vertical to better enable these organizations to operate at the speed and velocity of a large enterprise. A chief information officer who is well-versed at evaluating software tools will be an asset to non-profits looking to build or buy software for increased efficiencies.”

Sal DiFranco serves as managing partner of the global advanced technology and CIO/CTO practices specializing in cloud, digital transformation, IoT, data & analytics and software & applications including SaaS. He specializes in C-level technology searches across all practices, with a focus on industrial technology, fintech, healthcare IT, consumer & retail and professional services.


Though a chief information officer is a technology leader, it’s important that all members of the organization believe in the mission of the work they are doing. Many of our clients ask about the difference between CIOs with non-profit experience and those from other sectors. The answer lies not always with where they come from but what their passion is. Many people want to apply their skills to a greater good, whether they come from another non-profit organization or an enterprise setting.


A CIO is a major investment in differentiating a non-profit, and a quality chief information officer requires a specific set of technical and cultural skills. The details will vary by organization, but in general, a chief information officer for a non-profit must be an effective communicator who is skilled at influencing a wide variety of people. In addition, it’s important that they have a vision for adapting the organization’s operations to a post-COVID world, as well as the ability to evolve through other challenging circumstances that may arise in the future. To do that, they will need to have technical skills that they continue to update. Finally, perhaps more important than their professional experience and skills, are their belief in and passion for the mission of the organization.

Related: DHR International Recruits CIO for Northwestern Mutual Life

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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