It’s inevitable; everyone eventually leaves a job. Sometimes it’s by choice and sometimes it’s planned. Other times it’s sudden and throws the organization into a tailspin. Nonprofit executive transition is a crucial point in the cycle of a nonprofit, with the possibility for both opportunity and vulnerability. After all, if your organization does not have a succession plan prepared, what happens in the event that your executive departs – either expected or unexpectedly? Organizations must be able to show both employees and supporters that there is an organized plan for continuation of the programs and services being provided. Systems must be established to ensure the board can assess and understand the organization’s current and future leadership needs to create a smooth transition.
Some key elements for a succession plan should include:
- Current, up-to date, realistic job description for the executive director
- An outline of the critical daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly tasks of the executive director – with special notes made of any key due dates.
- A system for accessing key information, which should be documented and accessible in times of change.
- Strategies for utilizing an interim executive to provide the board with time for a thoughtful and comprehensive search process.
Let us hear from you: does your organization have a transition plan in place? If you do, what’s worked and what hasn’t? If you don’t, what’s held you back?