In Board Engagement and Governance, Strategic Planning

It’s not uncommon for nonprofit organizations to be unprepared in the case of a leadership transition.

This can be particularly challenging for organizations where the founder is serving in the executive director role.

Inevitably, there comes a time when the founder is ready to move on, is perhaps having health issues or the board and/or staff is ready for new leadership. But founders tend to have a harder time relinquishing control, delegating responsibilities and making objective decisions about the organization’s future.

Sound familiar? Here’s some tips for staff, leadership and board members alike:

  • All roads lead back to Strategic Planning. If your organization does not have a plan on the books, it’s never too late to start! A proper strategic planning process means that your organization will be more prepared when it comes time to tackle succession planning, staff structure and documenting workflow processes.
  • Board engagementWhen organizational leadership is changing, the board needs to be involved – after all, they are responsible for evaluating the executive director. Unfortunately, more than 50% of directors do not believe their fellow board members are very experienced or engaged in their work. This is another topic that should be part of the SP.
  • Be cognizant of timing and the messenger. If your founder is resistant to change, consider who has their ear and when the leader might be more open to a conversation. Founders often view the organization as “their baby” and the thought of letting go leads to a lot of emotions. Put yourself in their shoes and you might see things differently.  

Change management and succession planning is difficult for most nonprofit organizations, so know that you are not alone. 

Our company often facilitates discussions around these topics because they come up organically during a thorough strategic planning process. 

Need guidance on any of the above? Ask a question below or reach out to NSS directly.

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