50 Practical Tips For Nonprofit Succession Planning

By Terry Ibele

AlexanderStein / Pixabay

Last month, a board member from a Lawyer’s Association reached out to me because their president was planning to retire. Unfortunately they hadn’t gone through a transition before and didn’t know where to find a new president. She asked me if I had any tips to help her association through the process.

Over the years, I’ve spoken with dozens of board members about their succession planning processes and compiled every tip I’ve learned into one gigantic list. I shared it with the Lawyer’s Association who used it to find a great candidate in a place they didn’t think to look (their own members). They also used the tips to create a solid transition plan. Now they feel fully prepared for their current president to retire and the new one to take over.

I thought it would be a good idea to publish the tips I’ve learned for anyone else looking to improve their board’s succession planning process. Here they are:

50 Practical Tips For Nonprofit Succession Planning

  1. To help the new leader, compile a list of all personal/professional connections that the board has and what information/projects they’re experts in. This will help the new leader know who to contact when executing projects.
  2. Bring the new leader in for a training day with the current leader a month prior to the transition.
  3. Have a new leader start early so there’s an overlap between roles.
  4. Create a volunteer position specifically to help with succession planning.
  5. Have an “emergency” contact that a new leader can call any time with any question (some boards call theirs, “Succession Planning 911”).
  6. Conduct an exit interview with the previous leader. Often this can be an emotional experience, but you will learn information about the role and processes that you might not find out otherwise.
  7. Assign each task in your succession plan an estimated amount of time needed, so you know when to begin and how far through you are.
  8. Nominate a temporary head of the board between succession.
  9. Have the current leader rewrite their own job description based on their experience of the work involved. If you need some help writing out a job description, follow the guidelines offered in this guide on how to recruit a board.
  10. Give your new leader some room to fail in the first six months, suggests the Peel Leadership Centre.
  11. Transitioning into a new leadership position, culture, staff team, and organization is not easy. Do not expect the new leader to get everything right from the start.
  12. Define the culture of your organization so everyone is clear on what a good candidate will possess.
  13. Introduce a new leader by going on a team retreat to make them more comfortable with the transition and to build excitement within the team.
  14. Seek the help of a consultant or adviser.
  15. Call the board of a similar organization and ask if they have any tips or strategies.
  16. List out all the current challenges of the board and the leadership qualities needed to overcome them.
  17. Keep the old leader on call as an adviser.
  18. Read succession planning case studies.
  19. Consult this Nonprofit Go to the full article.

    Source:: Business 2 Community

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