One challenge that many nonprofit organizations will face in the near term is the need to replace key leaders within their organization. It’s estimated that baby boomers account for nearly 70% of all nonprofit chief executives, and a recent survey shows that over 50% plan on retiring within the next 12 to 18 months. Many of these individuals are long-time leaders, or even founders, of the organization. Now, more than ever, it’s important that nonprofit organizations begin to plan their succession strategies.
Organizations should consider having three distinct plans in place for all key positions within the organization, including the President/CEO, Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Volunteer Leader, and Director of Fundraising, among other critical positions needed by the organization.
1. Strategic leadership development – Organizations should identify talented individuals already within the organization who could assume a key role and begin developing them for that possibility.
2. Emergency planning - Organizations should have an emergency plan in place in the event that a key individual is abruptly displaced.
3. Departure – Organizations should be ready to act when key individuals announce their intention to leave.
As part the succession planning process, it’s important that organizations contemplate what challenges they may face over the next 5 to 10 years and what skills and experiences are necessary to lead the organization through those hurdles. Oftentimes, future challenges will require an entirely different skill set then those previously faced in the past.
Having current and timely succession planning strategies in place will help all nonprofit organizations manage through periods of transition while successfully executing the organization’s overall mission.
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