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Consider this very healthy nonprofit leadership practice.

Why Succession Planning? 

I sat with a major donor this week and a ministry leader seeking his support. The donor, who is considering a significant gift, asked the ministry leader if he had a succession plan? Thankfully, this ministry leader was prepared and immediately pulled out a document from his binder that contained the details of the plan.

Are you prepared to answer this question? 

If a major donor considering a large gift to your organization asked you this same question, are you prepared? If not, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. In fact, a 2017 study from Board Source indicated that fewer than 3 in 10 nonprofits have a succession plan in place. However, with 10,000 Baby Boomers (those most likely to hold executive-level positions in nonprofit organizations) retiring each day, now is the time to get started. Don’t wait until you find yourself in an emergency situation. The most effective succession plans proactively map out the ways in which an organization plans to handle both expected and unexpected leadership changes.

A succession plan is absolutely critical for the future of your organization. It will help the organization avoid pitfalls, provide the board with a clear path to move forward during times of change and maintain long-term sustainability.

Where do you start? 

Below are a few free resources to help you.

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has provided a sample succession plan to use as a template in creating one of your own. You can view it here. 

Board Source has developed an executive transition timeline to use as a resource guide. You can view it here. 

I hope you will consider this very healthy nonprofit leadership practice in the near future.


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