Writing a Board Succession Policy

As organizations begin to plan for succession for the executive director and other key staff, they often realize that the board needs a succession plan as well.

I remember all too well the board meeting when our chair breezed late and announced this was her last board meeting. She’d changed positions at her company and could no longer serve. None of us expected this news. She’d been a fantastic board chair for the past couple of years. She was involved, brought great ideas, and cared about the mission. Everyone else looked around at each other, with no one willing to step up. Our vice-chair had stated from the beginning that he was unable to put in the time to be the chair. We had no one ready to step up.

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Creating a Crisis Communication Plan

Communicating effectively and quickly to your stakeholders in an emergency is an important part of building trust within your community. Imagine the difference between hearing through the grapevine that an executive director was fired, versus hearing from the organization directly that there’s a change in leadership and a plan to move forward with an interim or acting leader. In the first situation, you don’t know what has happened or why, and you don’t have any idea what is happening. It seems like the firing happened suddenly and without any thought. In the latter situation, you know the board took careful and thoughtful actions. Even if you disagree with their process, you know that the board recognizes the repercussions of their decision.

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Succession Planning for Success

Leadership changes at nonprofit organizations are expected, but too often no plan has been created. We know that so much can happen. The current leader’s spouse gets a job offer in another state. Their elderly parent suddenly needs around-the-clock care. The board finds out about an incident outside work, forcing the resignation of the current leader. Often, though, it is much less drastic. Maybe the current leader decides to take an extended vacation and realizes how much they need to record and delegate before they go.

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Advantages of Executive Search Firms for Nonprofits

Partnering with an outside search firm to hire the next executive director allows the board to focus on leading the organization, and on choosing the best candidate, rather than getting bogged down in the details of the search. Too often, boards try to do everything themselves, not realizing until it is too late how much time a search takes, and how different it is from a corporate hire. The executive director is the most important position in the organization and putting in the necessary time to get it right will save everyone time and frustration later on.

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Engaging Board Members [video]

Engaging Board Members Webinar – recorded August 12, 2020

Every ED and board chair wish that their board did more, but how can you actually make that happen? I share a wide variety of methods from simple changes to your agenda to systemic changes to your whole board structure.

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Online Survey Sites

Conducting online surveys can provide a range of valuable information but the most popular survey sites have limitations on their free versions, especially in the number of questions, and the number of respondents allowed. Below are three sites that offer great value on their free plan, and a reasonably priced paid plan. They are listed below along with some of the key features that nonprofits need. Overall it seemed that QuestionPro offered the best options for a completely free version.

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What Interim Executive Directors Do [video]

What Interim Executive Directors Do – recorded August 12, 2020

Interim executive directors play an important role in a nonprofit leadership transition. But what do they actually do? Why are they valuable? How can you become one?

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Using Change to Your Advantage [Video]

Using Change to Your Advantage Webinar – recorded June 10, 2020

Understanding how we cope with change can make a huge difference in how we implement changes in our nonprofits and in our lives. Using William Bridges’ Transition Model, we look at the advantages to being in an uncertain time.

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Practical Tips for Addressing Issues with Employees

It’s never easy to tell someone they are doing something wrong, and it is especially hard if you’ve put off doing it. It’s easy to hope that a minor issue will go away. But it also doesn’t help anyone to let an issue linger. Think about the effect it has on other employees who may see someone getting away with shoddy work. Or think about how much time you are wasting worrying about talking with the staff person. Not to mention that the staff person can’t correct the problem if they don’t know it is an issue.

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