5 Ways Planning for Leadership Succession Can Benefit Your Nonprofit Cause

5 Ways Planning for Leadership Succession Can Benefit Your Nonprofit Cause

If you’re a community impact leader, can your organization carry on to the next generation without you?


Whether raising money for medical research, building an association for the next generation of professionals, or promoting a major cultural festival, executive directors and board leaders are closely tied to the success of their cause.


The truth is leaders don’t serve forever.


Whether a leadership transition is planned or unplanned, it’s important to prepare an organization’s next chapter of success as part of your current responsibilities. No executive leader or board chair wants to see their cause stall and sputter during a leadership transition. Taking the time for succession planning is one of the best ways to avoid that.


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For leaders of all kinds, here are five reasons succession planning is of utmost importance:


1. 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 current staff and volunteers how valuable you find their contributions.


By planning for succession, incorporating a leadership development strategy into the organization’s overall success plan gives consideration to mentorship, training and enhanced job responsibilities as part of the resourcing discussion. A nonprofit that fuels the careers of those currently serving your purpose is a different working kind of atmosphere than a workplace that fills jobs.


2. Budget and Plan for the Cost of Hiring


The leadership search 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 that is fair and equitable.


Being a competitive employer is also important to retain top-notch talent, so planning benefits, salary, and other logistics ahead of time will put you in line to get the best people on board with your mission.


3. 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.


Understanding the ins and outs of a cause and what an organization truly stands for takes time. Every succession plan isn’t complete without a deliberate onboarding process that orients new leaders 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.


4. Prepare for the “What Ifs” Before They Happen


From economic changes to evolving work environments, the “What Ifs” 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 Ifs” before they take an organization by surprise.


5. 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 a 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 cause.


These are resources that demand thoughtful attention, and, in some cases, there are assets of the organization that 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 consultations.


If you have a specific request or question about succession planning, we look forward to hearing from you!