Nonprofit Leadership: Succession Planning Is a Must
I have worked in a number of senior-level positions in my not-for-profit career. Very rarely in my No. 2 role did the No. 1 role have an organizational plan for succession. In fact, if you ask most senior-level professionals they would admit succession planning doesn't exist or the plan sits and gathers dust.
They would say you cannot predict your own job security and future much less guarantee an opportunity for someone who could take your place. For this process to work, the culture of the organization must support employee growth and development. This organizational planning tool begins at the top. In today's world, succession planning is a must.
Penelope Burk, president of Cygnus Applied Research Inc., helped direct a survey targeted toward an array of young fundraising professionals. She noted that currently in the fundraising world, the trend for future leaders rests with individuals having expertise in major gifts and planned gifts. Due to dynamic changes in the ways funds are secured, younger fundraising professionals need experience in these areas of expertise earlier in their careers. The literature suggests that gathering this experience can prepare you for a senior-level positions at an earlier career juncture than in the past.
In the Cygnus Applied Research survey, 43 percent of the development professionals noted they plan to stay in fundraising for the balance of their careers. Among them, one in two will retire within the next five to 10 years. Burk notes that to meet upcoming retirement demands for senior leaders, current senior practitioners need to encourage succession planning and promotion of younger professionals at a faster pace than ever in the history of the organization.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, because nonprofits have a social-welfare mandate opposed to the profit mandate, most of their resources go to providing services rather than supporting administrative and management functions. This focus can leave nonprofits particularly vulnerable in turbulent times of leadership change. The limited management structure also means that nonprofits rely even more on a single individuals to do multiple functions of fundraising and management. Handling dual roles is extremely difficult, and few professionals can effectively balance these responsibilities.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.