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Succession Planning in Non-Profit Organizations

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 12/17/2010

Wish to enhance the long-term stability of your non profit? Succession planning in a non profit organization is the key to ensure a smooth transition of crucial positions.

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    Succession Plans for a Nonprofit

    Succession Plan Nonprofit organizations are heavily reliant on capable and inspiring leadership to achieve their missions and goals. This makes succession planning in a non profit organization a very important part of human resource management. The need for succession may arise in due course when a key leader is about to retire, or in an emergency situation if the leader is suddenly incapacitated or exits from the organization on short notice. For such eventualities, it is important for the non-profit organization to have a succession plan in place so that normal functioning of the organization is not compromised in any way.

    Transitional Succession Planning for a Nonprofit

    To ensure a smooth transition from one key leader to another in the case of a non profit organization, it is necessary to develop an in-house pool of talent. The top management must identify the right candidates for this pool who are sufficiently motivated, have a proven track record of achievements and an exemplary loyalty to the organization, and exhibit natural leadership qualities. These specific candidates should be cultivated for succession positions by delegating an increasing level of authority and responsibility to them. If a candidate lacks in a certain specific skill required for succession, he or she can be trained or given exposure to acquire that skill when there is still time before succession.

    A clear listing of positions marked for succession should be prepared and each candidate from the in-house talent pool should be identified for a most suitable position. Each individual’s experience and competencies are different, so the appropriate candidates should be marked for appropriate positions of succession. There must be a clear strategy to monitor the performance and retain the marked talent within the organization. Retention of identified talent may require giving them widened authority as well as monetary incentives. The transitional succession plan should be routinely updated and reviewed for any changes in the situation.

    Emergency Succession Planning in a Non Profit Organization

    A non profit organization may have several key positions that are indispensable for its effective functioning. This may include the President or the Chief Volunteer Leader, or a Director of Fundraising, or a Group Leader of Government Relations, among others. In an emergency need for succession, there may not be enough time to groom an in-house employee for the key position. For this purpose, a strategic external hiring plan should be in place. As a part of this plan, the organization should identify the sources from where a suitably experienced individual can be hired on short notice.

    The human resource department of the organization should maintain a regular liaison with such sources or direct potential candidates who may be needed some day in the eventuality of an emergency succession within the organization. The organization should also have a training and orientation program in place where any new successor for a key position, whether in-house or externally hired, can be inducted efficiently to take over a responsible position. With a strong succession planning mechanism in place, the nonprofit organization can achieve a higher level of stability in the event of sudden or transitional changes taking place within the organization.

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