Succession Planning Eases the Executive Transition

The departure of an executive director is a transformational event for a nonprofit, regardless of the circumstances.  Whether the departure is by accident or by design, the burden of replacing that leadership rests with the Board of Directors. Whether it’s assistance in succession planning or placing an experience Interim Executive Director, The Nonprofit Center can ease the distress often associated with significant change.

Leadership Transitions Support

What is your organization doing to prepare for its eventual change in leadership? How are you grooming your future leaders? The experts tell us that there is little to lure young nonprofit professionals into future executive director positions and that we have to act to change that or risk serious damage to the nonprofit sector.

For help with issues related to leadership transition, including executive transitions, interim executive directors, and succession planning, contact The Nonprofit Center.

Nonprofit Center Study Reveals Few Nonprofits Ready for Leadership Transition
The Nonprofit Center conducted an informal study to get a sense of whether the Greater Philadelphia region will experience the same leadership gap predicted in other major metropolitan areas.

As today’s baby-boomers, many of whom are the executive directors of local nonprofits consider retirement, are plans being made to groom their replacements?

The answer, unfortunately, is still no.

Here are some of the significant findings:

  • 88 of current EDs are giving “more serious thought” to leaving their positions
  • 40% say the reason for their departure is the need to find better work-life balance that isn’t possible in current position
  • 38% indicate they are tired of trying to get the board to do its job

In the national study of nonprofit executive leadership responses indicated:

  • 67% of current EDs plan to leave their positions within five years, with their departure delayed by the recession, shrinking job market, instability of their organization and lack of a successor
  • only 17% of organizations have a documented succession plan
  • just 33% of EDs are very confident their board will hire the right successor
  • 33% of EDs followed a leader who was fired or forced to retire, indicating the frequency of mis-hires and unclear expectations among boards and executive directors

Subsequent studies found little difference in this disturbing findings.

The Nonprofit Center, in anticipation of these pending leadership changes, has two programs to aid nonprofit boards and executives in addressing this crucial issue.

Our work in this area includes:

  • Succession Planning to help nonprofits build their bench strength and protect their vision by preparing their future leaders.  Get the white paper on how to have a successful executive transition.
  • Executive Transition Planning to support an organization’s board by guiding it through their process of hiring or changing executive directors
  • Interim Executive Director Program to place short-term leadership while an organization addresses the challenges it faces before a permanent hire should be made, to bridge the leadership gap during a time of transition.

“If nonprofits do not act now to address their failure to have a plan for leadership succession, as well as committing to developing new managers, this leadership gap will extend to include managers at many levels of an organization and threaten its ability to fulfill its mission,” says Laura Otten, director of The Nonprofit Center.

The Nonprofit Center is available to help your organization’s executive director and board face its responsibilities for transition planning now. For more information, contact Lori Moffa at [email protected].

We are always looking for potential interim executive directors.  If you have been a nonprofit executive director and are seeking a new career as an interim executive, contact Lori Moffa.