Giving Compass' Take:

Miecha Ranea Forbes explains effective ways to plan for leadership changes in nonprofit organizations and the best pathways forward to navigate these changes.

Why is it important for donors to understand leadership changes in nonprofit organizations to better inform their charitable giving?

• Read more about challenges in nonprofit leadership.

Every organization experiences leadership change. But these days, the nonprofit sector is experiencing a big demographic shift. Which is why it's essential for all nonprofits to start planning for the kind of thoughtful leadership transitions —including those resulting from both expected and sudden departures — any organization needs to survive and thrive.

According to the 2017 BoardSource report Leading With Intent, only 27 percent of nonprofits have a formal succession plan in place. That's unfortunate, because having such a plan in place can help any organization overcome the challenges and bumps in the road that almost always pop up in the wake of a leadership transition.

In the past, the process was commonly referred to "succession planning." However, that term often refers to identifying a successor for a specific leader and, in our view, has outgrown its usefulness. It's more helpful, instead, to think about the work of preparing for and managing leadership change as "intentional pathway planning," a more expansive term that serves as a reminder that leadership change involves much more than thinking about a single role or person; it's a holistic approach and lens that should be applied to every step of the hiring and onboarding process.

Tips for successful intentional pathway planning include:

  • Consider the big picture.
  • Plan and train.
  • Look internally first.
  • Know when to look externally.
  • Use consistent systems.
  • Prioritize staff development.
  • Emphasize where DEI meets pathway planning.
  • Customize your plans.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Consider your organization's biggest challenges.
  • Communicate wisely.

Read the full article about managing leadership changes by Miecha Ranea Forbes at PhilanTopic.