By Bob Phillips
“Après moi le deluge” (after me the flood) — the famous quote from King Louis XV of France should not be part of the mission statement of a nonprofit.
Yet very few agencies have prepared themselves for the flood of problems that will surely swamp them if they don’t have a plan on how to replace their leadership when the inevitable time of transition comes.
One of the less-known and even less-acknowledged facts about the leadership of nonprofits, especially in a retirement area like Southern Arizona, is that it is aging, rapidly. About two-thirds of all nonprofit leaders are planning to leave their jobs in the next five years. Informal interviews with a sample of Green Valley nonprofits suggests that the figure is conservative as most local leaders plan to be doing something else or nothing else five years from now.
In an area that relies on committed and talented volunteers to carry the bulk of the work of its nonprofit agencies, it must be noted that most of these volunteers and the staff members who depend on them are themselves older with a diminishing will and ability to carry the load of their agency’s programs. It is one thing to hire and/or recruited staff and volunteers in their 30s or 40s who will be around for a long time, and quite another when your labor pool is mostly stocked with folks in their 60s and 70s and beyond.
So – back to succession. How does a nonprofit recruit and retain its leadership and workforce in a retirement community? Some suggestions:
•Do not rely on too few for too much – breakdown and burnout are at the end of that path.
•Limit your program aspirations and agency goals to your available and renewable resources.
•When you are recruiting new board members, look for some that are new to the community (meaning that they haven’t already gotten involved in a lot of activities) have nonprofit management experience and look like they will be around for a while.
•Recruit and utilize interns from the high schools and colleges with community service programs of nearby communities like Sahuarita and Tucson. As those communities are a reasonable commute, perhaps they will provide your future leadership.
•If you have had an executive director who was the founder and/or has been with the agency for a long time, consider hiring a temporary executive director (who doesn’t want the permanent job) to help you figure out what you want in the future that will necessarily be different than the past.
•Consider sharing leadership positions by dividing up responsibilities so that one person doesn’t carry the whole load.
•Work with the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Learning Institute to develop and adopt a succession plan that would contain the elements listed above.
At the end of the day, preparing for the future of your favorite cause is the best way of ensuring that it will have one.
By Bob Phillips, Reposted from the Green Valley News, Oct 14, 2016
“Nonprofits are the best way to bring to life our dreams and aspirations for a community we would be proud to bestow to future generations.” — Michelle Phillips, Executive Director Greater Green Valley Community Foundation Nonprofits – amazing and uniquely American organizations.
While the daily news makes it agonizingly clear who is blowing up the present, the nonprofit agencies laying the foundation for a better, more prosperous, more just future locally and around the world often labor in obscurity, facing growing challenges with inadequate resources. Yet how obscure should an employer of 10.1 percent of the total U.S. workforce and a producer of $805 billion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product be? Not very. Yes, nonprofits (NPOs) in the U.S. are that big! In Arizona, our nonprofits generate more than 8 percent of the state’s gross state product, are the state’s 5th largest non-governmental employer and are responsible for more than 325,000 jobs (AZ nonprofit Report 2016). Yet here in Southern Arizona, the more than 70 nonprofits served by the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation remain unknown by most people not directly affected by their programs. These local nonprofits help to raise our kids, give us affordable and accessible healthcare, and provide food and shelter to the more than 25 percent of our local families living in poverty. They also protect our mountains and rivers, provide places of worship, recreation, education and culture and give Southern Arizona the quality of life critical to its growth, security and prosperity.
So, the Nonprofit Learning Institute, a program of the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation, aims to help local nonprofits to organize, become more productive, innovative, collaborative and assertive. How? For starters, by offering an ongoing series of trainings, inspired by the foundation’s board chairman Mark Davy’s 4 Pillars of Successful Nonprofits. That leads to a certificate for every participating non-profit. There’s also a monthly facilitated Executive Roundtable, attended by local non-pro t leaders, to a create a collaborative community between previously competing non-profits. And there are workshops on strategic planning, forming partnerships and building sustainability through cross-sector resource development. This monthly column will focus on critical topics not generally covered. Like the myth of nonprofit sustainability, why the concept of charity stands in the way of effective philanthropy and social investment, why non-profit leadership is critical yet seldom practiced or rewarded, why so few young people take up non-profit careers and why Southern Arizona non-profits (and their communities) seem so oblivious to the fact their future depends on what happens 43 miles south of Green Valley. Look for this column every month in the Green Valley News and on GGVCF sites. Each will feature comments and insights from you the public, non-profit staff and board members, volunteers and those served by local non-profits. The column will be frank, intelligent, creative, constructive, kind and honest. Let us know your thoughts.
For more info on GGVCF (www.ggvcf.org) and NPLI and its trainings to NPO’s and to make a comment or share an insight, contact: Michelle Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org or NPLI Director Bob Phillips, email@example.com / http://www.robertphillips-consulting.com