Starfish Impact is thrilled to share this guest post on interim placement from Mickie Faris, a seasoned leader in the nonprofit space. Below, she shares some insight on the value of investing in an Interim Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer during a transition period.
All nonprofits will at some point experience a change in leadership whether it’s planned or not. The beloved CEO retires or the head of development suddenly resigns. It can happen during a financial crisis, the middle of the budgeting process, just before the annual fundraising event or launch of a major campaign. Most organizations don’t have the staff to fill these roles even on an interim basis. The CEO can panic without a head of development and the board is at a loss without continuity in executive leadership. Because the work of the organization needs to continue there is often a rush to hire.
Change is an opportunity to step back and reassess. Retaining interim leadership has benefits beyond keeping the momentum going and the organization operating. The organization gets the immediate help needed to stay on course and taps into expertise that it may not otherwise be able to afford. Fresh perspective is invaluable and the interim can help with recommendations and recruitment.
The argument against interim placement may be the perceived adverse impact on constituent engagement. The board, donors, volunteers and staff may feel discomfort with uncertainty and instability during transition. Addressing these concerns by positioning the organization and its mission in the forefront and as a constant will help. The best leaders use this approach regardless of transition. Constituent trust, confidence and commitment can be maintained and even strengthened.
Interim placement can help chart the course for an organization in transition. It can also prevent the rush to hire and buy the organization time to engage in successful recruitment. It’s a short term solution with long term benefits.
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