If you’re a nonprofit leader, your cause means a lot to you. Whether you’re raising money for medical research, building an association of the next generation of professionals in your field, or the promoting state’s largest cultural festival, nonprofit leaders in particular are dedicated to seeing their missions become realities.
Leaders can’t hold their position forever, however. So when you’re moving on to your next stage, it’s important to plan for your organization’s next chapter of success as part of your current responsibilities. No leader wants to leave the cause they’ve given their blood sweat and tears to high and dry, and taking the time for succession planning is one of the best ways to avoid that. For leaders of all kinds, here are five reasons succession planning is of utmost importance.
Commit to Fueling Future Leadership From Within Your Organization
Some leadership positions are best filled by people new to organizations, but others aren’t. Continuously looking for ways to advance the careers of your current team is a strong statement that shows employees and volunteers how valuable you find their contributions.
By planning for succession, incorporating a leadership development strategy into the organization’s overall work plan gives consideration to mentorship, training and enhanced job responsibilities part of the resourcing discussion for each goal. A workplace that fuels careers is a different working atmosphere than an workplace that fills jobs.
Budget and Plan for the Cost for Hiring
The hiring process can involve a lot of time and money. Allocating dollars every year to build a reserve of resources to fund transitions is critical if a nonprofit organization is going to hire talent at market.
Being a competitive employer is also important to retain top notch talent, so planning benefits, salary, and other logics ahead of time will put you in line to get the best people on board with your mission.
Onboarding Leads to Faster Action
Most of us know what it’s like to start a new job. It can be difficult to know where to begin, understand the ins and outs of a cause, and understand truly what an organization stands for. Every succession plan isn’t complete without a deliberate on boarding process that orients new employees and volunteers about their work, the organization, and the culture of the cause.
It can improve a successor’s ability to lead the organization forward and maintain the vision through change without wasting too much time learning the logistics of a cause.
Prepare for the “What if’s” Before They Happen
From economic uncertainty to changing political environments, “what if’s” are important to plan for. It’s called “Contingency Planning” and it’s a fundamental element of any succession planning discussion.
What if your organization loses a portion of government funding? What if your seasoned manager has to make an unexpected move out of town? You can never be prepared for everything, but contingency planning takes care of the “what if’s” before they take anybody by surprise.
Make Succession A Policy Matter
To keep your cause moving forward, it’s crucial that certain policies and procedures are in place about short- and long-term absences as well as planned and unplanned vacancies. As nonprofit organizations, board involvement in succession should take place before change occurs so that the appropriate leaders are authorized to act quickly and smoothly without board intervention.
For any organization to keep itself in check about succession planning, it’s important to consider the amount of time devoted to developing dollars as compared to amount of time to developing people. The people who work for your organization or volunteer their time are the most precious resource available to the mission. These are resources that demand thoughtful attention; and, in some cases, are assets of the organization that mere money can’t buy.
If you’re wondering how you can implement these ideas, you’re in luck. Third Sector Company has a number of tools, checklists, and sample policies available. We also offer succession planning workshops in Northern and Southern California and in Washington.