Succession Planning

Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

With the increase in the number of retiring executives, nonprofits need to plan for succession to ensure organizational sustainability.  The executive director normally has a large amount of institutional knowledge that you don’t want to lose when he/she leaves.  There’s also a chance that your organization’s operations may be disrupted or funding negatively impacted.

There are three common types of succession planning strategies among nonprofits.

Emergency succession planning focuses on having a backup plan in place should an unforeseen circumstance occur in which the executive director cannot fulfill his/her duties.  There should be a written job description in place for the executive director, as well as a list of daily duties.  The organization should have a plan in place noting who will fulfill these roles and for how long.  All nonprofits should have an emergency succession plan in place.

Strategic leader development focuses on identifying the next in line before the executive director has left.  This approach allows the organization to develop a possible pool of replacements that have the skills and knowledge to be the organization’s next executive director.  Once the successor is identified, the executive director should begin training him/her and transitioning responsibilities to the new leader.  The major benefit of this approach is having the current executive director actively involved in the transition.

Departure defined strategy exists when the executive director has decided the he/she will leave in two to five years.  The organization does not publicly announce the executive director’s intentions but uses the next two to three years to plan for the transition.  This allows the board of directors to search for a new leader without interrupting the organization’s operations.  Departure defined strategy focuses on leadership strength and finding the appropriate individual to lead the organization into the future.

Succession planning should start the day your executive director is hired.  It’s also important that the board of directors play an active role to ensure a smooth transition in the organization’s leadership.

Here a few recommendations for succession planning.

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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