Time for boards to tackle nonprofit leadership transition planning is now

By Johnson Grossnickle and Associates

A recent Boston Globe article has once again drawn attention to an issue we have been warned about for several years – a predicted mass leadership transition among nonprofits.

Though we have long been warned about the anticipated change as boomers retire from leadership roles at the nonprofits many of them started, it seems few nonprofit boards have taken the necessary steps to prepare.

Cited in the article, for instance, is a soon to be released study of New England nonprofit leaders which indicates two-thirds of them have plans to leave their role in the next five years, but the majority of their organizations (60%) have yet to begin working on succession plans.

The industry has been lucky to date in that the transition of boomer leaders to retirement has been slower than originally predicted, likely due to the recession delaying retirement plans for many boomers. However, it is time for nonprofit boards to begin getting serious about tackling plans for the transition.

Here are a few things your board should begin doing now if you have a leader that will be retiring in the next few years:

  • Begin budgeting for professional development and leadership training to help groom staff to take the reins down the road
  • Take steps to deepen relationships with donors beyond the Executive Director, so their connection lies with the organization rather than one individual.

Click here to read additional suggestions from Johnson Grossnickle and Associates.

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