Lutheran Services plugs in

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas is gearing up to integrate technology into its operations.

The Raleigh-based group has hired tech-industry veteran Michael Clark as director of technology and hopes to raise $500,000 to fund a long-term technology plan.

“Like many nonprofits, we’re behind the technology curve,” says Suzanne Gibson Wise, the group’s president.

With a $23 million annual budget, 450 employees and 52 locations in two states, she said, Lutheran Family Services needs to acquire computers and train and network employees.

Key tasks for the child and family agency, which provides services ranging from family counseling and group homes to foster care and refugee resettlement, include converting its forms, policies and procedures from paper to online form.

The group eventually wants to create a data-collection system “so we know more about the demographics of the people we serve and work with so we can better prepare ourselves to meet their needs,” Wise says.

In addition to booting up the organization, she says, Clark’s job will be to help the staff understand “how to use data and information to make decisions — not just use technology for communication but to use it strategically.”

The challenge, she says, will be raising money to build internal operations, particularly in a tough economy and working with funders that typically prefer to support programs, not operations.

Clark was a director in the professional services organization of Entrust, an Internet-security firm near Dallas, Tex., and before that served as managing director of IVC, a Cary firm he helped found that provided consulting services on call centers, e-commerce and computer security.

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