Having a succession plan for key leadership is important, and we are seeing that come to life across the country.  Nonprofits are dealing with employees working remotely and/or the reality of having essential employees out-of-pocket due to their own or a loved ones’ illness or quarantine.

If you don’t have emergency succession plans for your staff leadership, here are a few quick tips:

  • What are the 5-7 most important elements of the position? Write them down – be as specific as possible about what MUST get done.
  • Look at each of the job responsibilities and identify who else on the staff – or board – can keep things moving in that area. In short-term, emergency succession planning, it’s very likely that several different people will need to step up/in to fulfill responsibilities.
  • Remember – in this emergency situation, we’re not talking about someone leading the organization through strategic planning or implementing new programs. We’re talking about ensuring that the organization can continue to function as is (or as close to as is).
  • What resources do the interim successors need in order to be successful? Do they have access to the appropriate documents, databases, contacts, etc.?  Keep a short list of “must-haves” that need to be addressed asap.
  • Cross-training may not be possible at the moment, but as much as you can, try to have at least one other person on staff who knows how to keep things moving in each functional area.
  • Communication is essential! Keep the lines of communication open between board and staff leadership to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.


Should you wish to discuss more about staff succession planning and how BVU can support your organization, please contact Julie Clark at jclark@bvuvolunteers.org.