Nonprofit Succession Planning Best Practices - If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
A few months ago we started researching nonprofit succession planning and how that impacts the faith-based back-office. Being in the finance and accounting world, we've seen some great examples and some not so great examples of succession planning for finance and accounting professionals. This led to months of research that turned into many conversations with succession planning experts and members of our own team who have lived it. It became a passion project for many of us. We even published an eBook about it! What became clear was, in order to be successful, you need to plan for success.
If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail is the first section of the eBook. Over the next couple of months, we will release more sections on our blog. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did creating it.
Imagine being on the leadership team and the Chief Financial Officer of your organization abruptly leaves. There’s no transition time. There’s no transfer of information. You are just left behind to pick up the pieces. How many months does that set you behind? How many months does that set the organization behind? It’s a mess and causes undue stress on you, your department, and the health of your organization. A proper succession plan could not have predicted this situation, but it would have given your organization a roadmap on where to go next.
To give an example, in 2018, a faith-based organization lost one of their leaders unexpectedly. Their interim replacement stepped in but, was very unprepared for the change and not a good fit in the role. The organization quickly began to decline – managers lost motivation, finances were not well-controlled, programs lost steam, and the organization was in danger of losing funds for programs that helped employ, clothe, feed, and pray over those who benefit from their services.
Two years later, the organization has made a complete 180° turnaround and is not just surviving but thriving, but the lack of planning and time spent developing other staff to manage without their leader caused some deep pains and significant gaps in being able to serve their community for a significant period of time. The organization healed, but not until an extensive and expensive search was undertaken to find the right person to lead the organization through a turnaround. The organization’s failure to plan almost ended in total failure – not just for that position, but for the entire organization.
Without a succession plan in place to help mitigate the aftershock, the organization suffered greatly. It is unfair to say that a succession plan would have remedied the situation, but it would have helped provide clarity during a chaotic time. The organization failed to plan, and thus planned to fail.
Worried about how to be prepared for rapid recovery from the recent pandemic? Read our eBook titled "Post-COVID-19 Business Model: How We Can Emerge Stronger and More Resilient."
Over the next couple of months, we will dig into the importance of succession planning and discuss why it is so important. We will provide stories and statistical data to help you clearly understand the necessity of succession planning as we cover the following topics:
- The Purpose of Succession Planning
- The Importance of Good Leadership
- Culture Really Matters
- What You Need to Know About Hiring Millennials
- Hiring from Within
- Succession Planning for the Back-Office
- Red Flags to Watch Out For
- What’s Next?
Download the eBook!
“Finance and Accounting roles are often overlooked for succession planning. However, they are mission critical to running the organization. At Concord Church, we are working hard to make sure that every role has a backup. I know it isn’t possible for every organization to employ or train a backup for every person, in those cases build a relationship with a third-party organization, such as an accounting resource, legal firm, IT provider, etc. If something happened to me, I know that our accounting partner, AcctTwo, could easily step in and keep the show running,” said Tammy Bunting, CFO at Concord Church.