It Dies With Me! A Nonprofit Succession Planning Rant

After working for several nonprofits and attending conferences which make this a priority issue, I realized that that there are a number of nonprofits (or dare I say Executive Directors of nonprofits) not planning for the future.

I’ts my organization and it dies with me! I started this organization!

These are the phrases going off in my head when I encounter leaders at nonprofit organisations who don’t participate in succession planning.

I started this organization out of the trunk of my car over 20 years ago.

Great! That’s awesome, but here’s the problem. It’s not your organization.  Nonprofits are not self-owned businesses, but many EDs operate like they are. They worry about self-preservation (which is important)–but it is not mission of the organization.  Nonprofits start out seeking to solve a problem.  In a perfect world, these organizations would pop up, solve the problem and the community would work together to provide whatever services are needed.

We don’t live in a perfect world, so nonprofits have stick around.  If something happens to the leader of the organization and there has been no plan in place for it, all hell breaks loose.

The significance of executive transitions will become more urgently felt as the large baby-boomer generation soon reaches retirement age…Finding qualified, motivated leaders to fill all the vital executive positions vacated by this generation is going to present pressing challenges for many organizations, nonprofit and for-profit alike.

Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management

There may not be a mass exodus of executive directors or nonprofit leaders, however the population is aging and some baby boomers are going to be on their way out.  There are many centers, institutes and consultants that help with succession planning, but we all know that nonprofits struggle with money.  If a nonprofit cannot afford a consultant, then at the very least they should attempt to do succession planning themselves.  Bottom line is, plan for the worse so you’re prepared folks!