According to a Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) article, succession planning is a top concern for U.S. nonprofits. Yet survey data reveals only 34 percent of nonprofits have a written succession plan in place.

Planning for the transition of a long-standing leader is as important to your nonprofit’s sustainability as fundraising. Learn several tips on nonprofit leadership development to ensure your organization is ready for success both now and in the future.

Tips for nonprofit leadership training and development

Nonprofit leadership development begins at home—in fact, your next great leader may be sitting right in front of you. SSIR refers to homegrown leaders as the answer to nonprofit succession planning. Cultivate them with:

  • Professional development opportunities: Staff will benefit from nonprofit leadership training and development opportunities. Whether through internal training, external courses or workshops, or online learning platforms like Lynda® or the Khan Academy®, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up skills relevant to your organization. You can reward learning with regular prize drawings for participation—custom sling bags or ear buds are nice choices. Participants may also appreciate a certificate displayed in a logo’d certificate holder.
  • Cross-training: Having staff members who are cross-trained in other jobs and responsibilities can help mitigate the disruption felt from unanticipated absences. Identify people who are a fit for cross-training. Formal instruction and job shadowing are effective ways to pick up new skills. Just make sure to reduce employees’ current workload so they don’t fall behind or become overwhelmed. Recognize employees who continue to learn. An imprinted travel bottle or phone stand with stylus makes a great reward.
  • Internal support: New employees or seasoned staff members who are new to a role will be more likely to flourish if you provide internal support. Consider pairing newbies with a mentor or buddy whose role is share knowledge and help with training. Management can take on a coaching role and assist in defining goals, identifying opportunities for development and preparing employees for advancement—all keys to internal nonprofit succession planning.

Good nonprofit succession planning starts at home. Help secure the future of your organization by providing current staff members with plenty of nonprofit leadership development training, cross-training and internal support. Follow these tips to position your nonprofit for a virtually seamless leadership transition.

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