Is Your Executive Director Leaving?

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2012

According to a 2011 national survey done by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, 67% of nonprofit executives anticipated leaving their jobs within 5 years. Of the 67%, only 7% have given notice of their intention to leave.

Is your organization prepared to handle the challenges faced with changing leadership?

A succession plan outlines the steps needed to make the transition from one leader to another as smooth as possible. Both the current executive director and the board of directors should be involved in succession planning. The board must start by determining goals for the future of the organization in order to select the appropriate individual to lead them there. It will also need to be decided if a new leader will be chosen from within the organization or from outside, how much overlap the current executive director will have with a new director and an exit strategy for the current executive director.

The plan, itself, should address the following issues:

The executive director’s responsibilities. Not just a formal job description (which should be reviewed and updated if necessary) but what the executive director does each day, week, and month.
Will an interim director be hired or will other individuals within the organization perform the director’s duties?
A timeline for filling the executive director’s position.
Who will be responsible for interviewing and hiring a new executive director?
An organizational calendar, detailing regular events occurring throughout the year (i.e. fund raising events, audits, grant deadlines, etc.).
An organizational chart noting lines of authority and any changes in the chart caused by the current executive director’s absence.
An inventory listing of key information (i.e. IRS determination letter, bylaws, mission statement, Form 990’s, audited financial statements, sales tax exemption, check stock, financial and donor records, computer passwords, etc.)
A listing of key organizational contacts (i.e. banks, investment company, lawyer, insurance agent, accountant, payroll provider, etc.)

The leadership of an organization is essential to its success. It is inevitable that over time your organization’s leadership will need to be replaced. To be ready for the transition, make sure your organization has a succession plan in place.

Posted by: Carrie Minnich, CPA

Posted in Mission Minded Nonprofits

Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

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