The Safety Net: Organization Succession Plan


The first thing to do in considering a succession plan is to understand that it is both a practical and an emotional endeavor. To accomplish the practical, one must dispense with the emotional. To do this, one must recognize that change is inevitable and that no one is indispensable. To to get started, first focus on the main goal of a succession plan: To provide a clear vision and a pathway for the organization’s mission to continue into the future.

The following are the fundamental steps that must be determined to draft a basic succession plan: (A draft can be constructed by a special committee appointed by the board chair, or the executive director could prepare a draft for the board executive committee. etc.)

1. A review of the bylaws as guidance for proceeding

2. The need for a short term as well as a permanent plan (Short term fills unplanned or emergency situations. Large organizations usually have both,

while smaller organizations can provide for this within their permanent plan.)

3. A timeline for replacement(s) which includes a transition period should one be needed

4. The identification of the key person(s) role(s) in the organization .... Updated resume(s) in place .... Staff professional training and cross training plan in place

5. The identification of a possible present staff person who could fill the position in a

temporary, transitionary or permanent role.

6. The clarification of the Board role in selecting the key person replacement ..... Describe the process ...... If a search committee is needed, identify who serves and their responsibilities

...... Determine if the key person final selection requires a full board vote

7. The budget considerations for all process costs and how the new key person

compensation is determined.

8. A communication plan to inform volunteers, partners, donors, public, etc.

of the organization leadership change.

The succession plan should be adopted by a vote of the full board and become part of the organization's documents.

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