Many nonprofits run into a dilemma in which the person instrumental in establishing and growing the organization is ready to retire or move on yet they still wield key responsibilities, decision making power and other important leadership functions. In many cases, this can be a difficult situation for both the founder of the organization and other key leaders ready to take over the reins.

Below are some advisable actions to take in order to set up a plan which will preserve the founder’s legacy and set up a successful future for the organization.

Form a Succession Plan

A succession plan is a vital ingredient in preserving the organization. If no one in the organization wants to tackle this discussion with the founder, a professional consultant, such as those at MFA – Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, can be retained.

Encourage Founders to Be Active in the Transition

Don’t just foist a transition onto the founder. One important contribution founders can make is recording their institutional memories. The leader’s vast knowledge should be documented so the organization can continue to benefit from it.

Ask the Board of Directors to Step Up

The Board may need to step up its accountability in the absence of the strong leader to whom they’ve been accustomed. Board members must seize the reins and educate themselves about the organization in any areas where they’re lacking. This may require replacing existing board members. Bringing on new staff may be advisable as well.

The Board can form an active fundraising committee so that a single individual isn’t responsible for driving donations. An army of zealous volunteers could be deployed as a bulwark against donation decline.

Entering a New Phase

Your organization’s founder likely has invested the proverbial blood, sweat and tears into launching your nonprofit and overseeing its growth. That person, ideally, should become part of the plan as you create a road map for the organization’s future. Planning for the next generation of nonprofit leadership is in its own way just as important as creating a start-up nonprofit — be sure to allow your organization the time it needs to ready itself for that next stage.

If your nonprofit is considering a change in leadership, contact MFA’s Nonprofit Team for help in building a viable succession plan.