A Guide to Succession Planning

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



Succession planning is one of the hardest activities that non-profits take the time to consider. I was recently given a document that I feel every non-profit leader should read. This is because it provides every single consideration, every step, and many resources for completing the task. It is called, ‘Building the Organizations:Succession Planning for NonProfits’, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The author is Tim Wolfred of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (compasspoint.org).

The document is 20 pages, and I would like to just tell you some of the subjects included, in the interest of space.

Three ways of thinking about succession planning:

  • Strategic leader development – assuring the right skills are present for the leadership in the strategic planning process.
  •  Emergency succession planning – the document does an excellent job of laying out first steps, of demystifying the hesitancy that ‘being prepared’ might engender, and providing care for the departing leader.
  • Creating the probability for successors to the Executive Director and other important leaders to emerge from your talent pool.

A Succession Readiness list

  • The importance of sharing knowledge – to increase bench strength
  • The nuts and bolts of Departure-Defined Succession Planning – when a leader announces a departure date ahead of time.
  • Getting the Board on board
  • The Tough Issues
  • Finding an Interim Executive Director

Tools You Can Use – and where to get them

  • Staff surveys
  • Stakeholder Surveys
  • A sample of an Emergency Succession Plan – with steps to how to accomplish the plan (compasspoint.org/et).

I hope this information will encourage you to consider succession planning as vital to the success and sustainability of your organization.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org