nonprofit board


       I am going to cut right to chase:

Sustainability and Succession Planning go hand in hand. If you want  your organization to achieve sustainability then succession planning must be a part of the plan. Nonprofits that want to sustain themselves for the long haul need to make sure there is strong leadership ready and available in the future.


Here are the 5 W's of Succession Planning for Nonprofits:


     For an organization to be healthy and productive it will need healthy and productive leadership steering it towards success. When there is gap of this kind of leadership, the organization will suffer and experience set backs. If I can't convince you of this, maybe this article will convince ya:  " Succession Planning for Nonprofits- Managing Leadership Transitions"

WHEN? Start succession planning . Right Now. It's never too early and it's never too soon. Get the conversation rolling and if you need help with what questions you should be asking at the moment in regards to succession planning, this article on "Succession Planning for Nonprofits of All Sizes" is a terrific resource!


    Start in house, of course! There just may be potential candidates in the organization who already have caught the heart of the mission and are ready to be developed into key leaders! Identify who they are, assess their skills, and get the ball rolling! A good succession plan includes regular development of employees. If consistent development is lacking, than you can expect migraine and ulcers in the future when those inevitable leadership transitions take place. To avoid migraines and ulcers, read: 5 Steps to Stronger Succession Plans in Nonprofits


   Who is involved in the succession planning? Good question and this is where things get a bit awkward.  I think the short answer to the question is that board is responsible for making sure the succession plan in place and operating at a healthy level. Leaders who are "on their way out"... should lend a helpful hand in the process too... but... that this where things can get  awkward since the conditions of the leadership transition maybe determine that this would not be appropriate practice. 

  I do believe that all levels of the organization should be involved in succession planning in some capacity...whether it is to give input about development or to help assess the culture to determine future leadership. I think the worst thing to do is to be super secretive about succession planning. There is a time and place to roll out information but it's healthy for employees to understand that as the organization evolves to achieve it's mission, so will it's leadership. 

 Also don't be afraid to enlist outside help to guide you through the process. It's very helpful!


    What do you do in succession planning? There are lots of things to do and there are lots of great resources to help you! Here are my top 3:

Nonprofit Succession Planning :Fostering a Culture of Leadership Continuity To Advance Your Mission

The Five Keys to An Effective Succession Plan

5 Best Practices to Identifying Potential Leaders


      Succession planning should not be scary. It's the secret to sustainability. So, if not's an a priority... it needs to be. Your future depends on it.

   Always your fan,



Every great nonprofit organization has a super awesome board rowing it towards it's successful destination. Here's what I know:




1. Leave their personal agendas at the door.

   Here's the deal: If your main motivation for joining the board is anything other than wanting to see the mission of the organization successfully fulfilled... um, thanks... but NO THANKS!  Awesome board members are 110% behind the cause and they allow their decisions and suggestions to be influenced by what is good for the organization. They leave their personal agendas out of it.

2. Steer clear of the board drama.

    Awesome board members do not participate in board drama. They don't engage in secret "unofficial" side meetings. They don't go behind other board members' backs to sway the consensus. When everyone is whispering in the corners, they choose to save their chatter for when it matters - at the meetings.

3. Participate wholeheartedly.

   Awesome board members show up and they show up on time. Yes, I said it: Awesome board members are punctual and participatory. They come prepared to collaborate and bring helpful solutions to help propel the mission forward. When they are present at meetings, they are present with mind, body and soul

4. Ask the hard questions.

     Awesome board members are not afraid to challenge and/or confront the practices that have been proven unsuccessful.  They are not intimidated by what others may think because they are most concerned with whether or not how things "have always been done" are  still serving the mission of the organization. They ask the hard questions.

5. Celebrates the wins.

   Awesome board members are celebrators. They actively look for wins that they can acknowledge and applaud. They are fluent in communicating gratitude and appreciate to staff and donors. They are not just looking for "what is going wrong" or "what we need to keep on" but they genuinely want to hear what is going right and who deserves to be told, "Hey! Great job!"


   If you have the amazing privilege of serving on a nonprofit board, please... please... for the love of doing good... 

 ...  be an awesome board member.  Choose to be the one that shines and sparkles with integrity and passion. I mean that from the bottom of my heart because doing good requires good people.