Five Ways to Prepare Your Nonprofit for Leadership Change
Plan ahead to ensure a smooth transition
Has your nonprofitanticipated a shake-up at the top? If not, it needs to. Perhaps your long-standing CEO will decide it's time to retire. Or maybe your board will determine that your current leader is ineffectual. Perhaps, your organization will merge with another nonprofit or undertake a restructuring that requires a leader with a different skill set than that of your current executive director.
To deal with scenarios such as these, a nonprofit needs a succession plan. Unfortunately, not all have one — not even close. Research by management consultant BoardSource shows that only 27 percent of U.S. nonprofits have a written executive succession plan. If your organization belongs to the other 73 percent, it's time to take action.
Leadership transitions can be delicate processes. Generally, they require executives to balance organizational needs with their own personal needs. It's easy for a nonprofit's stakeholders to get lost in the mix. That's where succession plans come into play. No plan is perfect, and there are no guarantees that you won't encounter unanticipated obstacles. But a reasonably comprehensive plan can help your departing leader and a transition team (that might include management, board members and professional advisors) focus on what's important.
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