Learning to Be an Interim Executive

Being an interim executive director is a challenging role, and one that not many people have the training and experience to complete successfully. I have had two interim director roles, but I knew I had much more to learn. In late January, 2019, I attended the Interim Executives Academy developed by the Third Sector Company.

The training gave me a solid foundation to use to grow my skills as an interim. It was also helpful to meet other interim directors and talk about our challenges and our successes.

There were three fundamental aspects that I learned during the training:

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Starting a nonprofit – necessary policies and procedures

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Starting from scratch with a new nonprofit organization is your chance to do it right. Doing things correctly from the beginning will save you a ton of headaches down the road. On the other hand, if this seems overwhelming, you might want to reconsider starting an organization. A nonprofit has a lot of responsibilities beyond just helping people.

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Why Develop a Contract for your ED?

As an executive director, I had a board that I enjoyed working with, but there were friction points. I now realize that the answer to these was simple, I needed a contract.

The truth is that boards aren’t great employers. The board-ED relationship is always a somewhat awkward one. An ED has 9 or 12 or 15 bosses, who are technically supposed to act together, but in reality they don’t always manage to do that. Plus the board composition changes regularly, so the ED’s relationship with them changes as well.

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Succession Planning for Success

All nonprofit organizations need to think about succession planning. Anything can happen. The current leader’s spouse can get a job offer in another state. Their elderly parent can suddenly need around-the-clock care. The board finds out about an incident outside work, forcing the resignation of the current leader. Sometimes, though, it is much less drastic. The current leader simply decides to take a vacation and realizes how much they need to record and delegate before they go.

In any of these situations, a plan provides guidance to the board and staff on how to keep the organization running smoothly. In addition, the plan helps the organization focus on its mission long-term by encouraging open and honest conversations about the future of the organization.

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Eight Great Alternatives to Starting a Nonprofit

Umbrella and money

Starting a nonprofit organization sounds like fun, but the reality is that it takes quite a bit of work. There are legitimate reasons to start a new organization, but your very first step should be extensive research to make sure the need isn’t being filled already by someone with more experience. All too often, I hear about someone starting an organization to help a village in Africa, or to raise money to fight a disease, and I wonder if the time and money could be better spent by joining efforts with an existing group.

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Why Your Organization Needs an Interim Executive Director

Why Your Organization Needs an Interim Executive Director

In any nonprofit organization, the executive director plays a key role. The director is the conduit between the board and staff, the public face of the organization, the person who guides the direction of the organization, and much more. When a long-time director leaves, or when the organization has had multiple directors during a short period of time, the board should consider bringing in an interim executive director to strengthen the organization and facilitate the transition. An interim executive director gives the board time for a comprehensive search for the next executive director, since they don’t have to worry about hurrying to get leadership in place.

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