What is your Board Succession Plan?

1 - Rationale

The Executive Director is essential to a nonprofit organization’s success. Thus, it's important that the staff members understand the duties of the Executive Director. This document outlines a plan for replacing the Executive Director, when necessary.

2 - Plan Implementation

The board chair should do the following in the event of an absence.

The Executive Director should inform the board of directors of any absence.

As soon as is workable, the board president must convene an executive committee meeting. At this meeting, the committee should affirm or change the plan as needed.

3 - Priority Functions for the Executive Director of the Organization

The following is a list of key functions of an Executive Director. Also, the following describes who can take over each function in the Executive Director's absence.

- Leadership and Vision: Board Chair with Senior Staff Member

- Board Administration and Support: Senior Staff Member

- Program Management: Senior Staff Member

- Financial Management: Treasurer

- Human Resource Management: Director, Human Resources

- Donor Relations; Community and Public Relations: Board Chair

- Spokesperson: Board Chair or Designee

The positions are approved as of [Date policy adopted]. Are any positions vacant? If so, the board chair must choose other senior staff members for those duties.

4 - Succession Plan in the Event of a Short-Term Planned or Unplanned Absence

a - Definitions

A temporary absence is when the Executive Director lets the board know ahead of time and plans to return. An unplanned absence is one that arises unexpectedly. A "temporary absence" is defined as up to 30 days. A "temporary short-term absence" is defined as between 30 and 90 days.

b - Temporary Staffing Strategy

For temporary absences of 30 days or less, use the above strategy. If it is more than 30 days, the executive committee must determine if another strategy is needed.

c - Appointing an Acting Executive Director

The executive committee may appoint an acting Executive Director, if necessary. They may install the temporary staffing strategy, too.

d - Standing Appointees to the Position of Acting Executive Director

The first position in line to be acting Executive Director is the senior staff member. Next in line is the vice chair, followed by the treasurer.

e - Cross-Training Plan

The Executive Director must develop a training plan for each of their duties. An up-to-date training plan must be attached to this document.

e - Authority and Restrictions of the Acting Executive Director

The Acting Executive Director must have the same authority as the regular Executive Director.

f - Compensation

Both the acting and regular Executive Director should have the same salary and benefits.

g - Board Oversight and Support to the Acting Executive Director

The acting Executive Director must report to the entire board.

h - Communications Plan

- The board chair and acting Executive Director must develop a communications plan. The plan must include what information will be shared with what parties.

- Updated contact information must be maintained in the organization’s database.

The following is a list of key supporters and their communication responsibilities:

Senior Staff Member with Designated Board Members - Governmental agencies, elected officials

Senior Staff Member with Designated Board Members - Foundation officers

Designated Board Members - Major donors

Senior Staff Member - Clients

Senior Staff Member - National colleagues

Designated Board Members - Personal colleagues

Auditor, Legal Counsel, Insurance Agent - Operating support (based on need)

5 - Succession Plan in the Event of a Temporary, Unplanned Long-Term Absence

a - Definition

A long-term absence is defined as 90 days or more.

b - Procedures

Procedures are the same as for a temporary short-term absence, plus:

The executive committee must give immediate consideration to hiring an interim Executive Director.

The board chair must review the performance of the acting Executive Director in 30 to 45 days.

6 - Succession Plan in the Event of a Permanent Departure of the Executive Director.

Procedures must be the same as for a temporary absence, plus:

a - Transition Committee

The board chair must appoint an executive transition committee. The chair must decide the size and composition of the committee.

The transition committee must establish a time frame and plan for the recruitment/selection process.

b - Interim Leadership

The board of directors may consider hiring an interim Executive Director. They should be hired from outside the organization. The hiring should be made with an independent contractor agreement of no more than three days per week.

Responsibilities of the Interim Executive Director

An interim Executive Director must have the full authority of the Executive Director.

Board Oversight and Support for the Interim Executive Director

The interim Executive Director must report to the board as a whole.

If an interim Executive Director is in place, the executive committee must convene monthly.

The board chair and executive committee are responsible for gathering input from staff. They should also review the performance of the interim Executive Director. An initial review must be completed between 30 and 45 days and every 90 days thereafter.

c - Organizational Assessment

The board must conduct an assessment of the organization. The assessment should include a review of the mission, vision, and strategic direction. If there are not changes, the board must make an announcement.

d - Search and Hire

The board must conduct a search that is transparent. The search must follow all personnel policies and laws.

The board must disclose any “exit plan” made by the departing Executive Director.

e - Post-Hire

The board must tell the Executive Director is expected in first six months. The board must tell the Executive Director what the evaluation process is.

7 - Approvals and Maintenance of The Record

a - Leadership Succession Plan Approval

The board of directors must approve the leadership succession plan. Then the executive committee must hold a yearly review of the plan. The committee should recommend any changes to the board.

b - Signatories

The board chair, Executive Director, and all appointees must sign the plan.

c - Maintenance or Record

The Executive Director and the auditor must maintain copies of the plan.

d - Financial Considerations

The executive committee must review the organization’s finances when the Executive Director is absent.