Succession Workshops

Fostering Leadership Continuity for Your Nonprofit Organization

“Fostering Leadership Continuity for Your Nonprofit Organization” is a three-hour succession planning seminar designed to help participants create and sustain a culture of leadership succession in their organizations.

This workshop is considered one of the most comprehensive leadership continuity and succession planning programs in the country. We give participants instructions and tools based on seven essential elements that form a culture of leadership continuity, including:

  • A working definition of succession planning versus career or transition planning
  • A pre-succession planning organizational assessment
  • Steps for ensuring a contingency plan is in place (see also: How Planning for Leadership Succession Can Benefit Your Cause)
  • Recommended succession planning policies every nonprofit board should review and approve regularly
  • Demonstrated basic competencies in human resource management for professional and voluntary leadership
  • Accounting for leadership continuity, human talent cultivation, and succession in every strategic planning discussion and document
  • Methods for sustaining a culture of leadership continuity in a nonprofit organization

For more information on our succession planning workshops, review our succession planning fact sheet.

Check out our upcoming events below to find a workshop near you!

Check out our upcoming events below to find a workshop near you!

Upcoming Workshops

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Why Leadership Continuity Is Important For Your Nonprofit Culture

Though the concept of succession planning is common throughout larger organizations at the highest levels, this practice has been in decline in medium-sized organizations – including nonprofits.

Simultaneously, the global reach of nonprofits and the nature of nonprofit work has demonstrated a need for smooth, efficient transitions at the executive level. Not only is such a transition a tremendous risk for the organization, it’s also a great opportunity for growth and change. Because succession is only a topic brought up when a change is inevitable, it’s wise to plan ahead for every contingency and establish a path of succession even when no one in the organization anticipates a leadership change.

When considering your organization's plans for the future, ask the following questions:

When was the last time succession was on the board’s agenda?

While it’s understandable that an executive would worry when a board discusses succession, it’s important to routinely monitor the process and ensure succession goes smoothly. This is especially important if am executive is suddenly incapacitated or otherwise unable to serve.

Are there potential candidates already on staff? If so, what steps are being taken to ensure they’re prepared to take over in the future?

Grooming a successor internally is a sound strategy. At the same time, if the succession process doesn’t occur for several years, an organization may have trouble retaining that candidate. Even if a transitory process is underway, considering outside talent is important should the primary candidate be unavailable or otherwise uninterested.

Is the current board equipped to hire the right candidate?

Conflicts and disagreements within the boardroom can trickle out to larger aspects of the organization. For example, if a board is accustomed to working with a strong executive, a brand-new hire may not be the best fit. Instead, transitioning with an experienced candidate while a more in-depth search can be conducted could be a successful strategy.

Client Testimonial – How did Third Sector Company help NW Folklife with leadership succession planning?Rob TownsendFormer Executive Director, NW Folklife

Good succession planning consists of five essential elements:

According to a recent study, less than 17 percent of nonprofit organizations surveyed say they have a succession plan in place. This despite more than 24 percent of nonprofit executives stating they plan to leave their organizations within the next 24 months.

Based on these numbers alone, the future of many – if not most – nonprofit organizations are at risk. Even worse, the majority of these organizations don’t even realize it due to a lack of succession planning and leadership continuity efforts established in their cultures.

1) Contingency Planning – Contingency planning uses a series of “what if” questions to help an organization prepare for a sudden vacancy in any key position in the organization. Third Sector Company’s tools and processes can assist in creating an inventory of your organization’s vital information, so that you will be better prepared for an unexpected shift in leadership.

2) Executive Performance Planning and Review – Annual performance reviews allow an organization’s leaders to think about and discuss current priorities and future plans involving the organization and their role within it. It also provides a good opportunity to modify executive job descriptions as the organization evolves.

3) Executive Compensation Planning and Review – In order for an organization to attract the best talent to fill future leadership positions, it’s important to maintain a commitment to being a competitive employer. This includes budgeting for the cost of filling vacant positions at current market values, even if those values are higher than the person currently in the role has earned.

4) Board-Approved Succession Policies – We recommend creating three official succession planning policies for the executive director and board chair positions. It’s important to have separate plans for short-term, long-term and permanent vacancies. These should include strategies for processes such as appointing interim executives during leaves of absence and proactively performing executive searches before permanent departures.

5) Leadership Development Strategy – At Third Sector Company, we believe that the development of people is equally important to the development of money in an organization’s strategic plan. A leadership development strategy provides guidelines for supporting current staff and volunteers through training, mentoring, professional development experiences and growth and promotion opportunities within the organization.

How can Third Sector Company assist an executive and their organization during a leadership transition?Tim KittlesonSenior Professional Advisor, Santa Monica, CA

Contact Us Today

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our succession planning workshops and how we can support your unique nonprofit organization.

Our organization is also happy to provide private leadership development seminars for organizations or to build a leadership retreat experience focusing on talent development and succession.

We have team members and affiliates located throughout the United States and Canada. Just contact the location nearest you to speak with one of our specialists.

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