There is a major issue facing the nonprofit industry; the question of who will succeed your CEO? After the end of the Vietnam War, baby boomers moved into the workforce and many eventually became CEOs of existing nonprofits or started their own. Fast-forward to today when birth rates are half of what they were in the boomer era, and you find that many nonprofits are starting to feel the pinch for a successor of their CEO.
So, where are these problems stemming from?
The first, and the most glaring, is that the boomer CEOs are retiring, or trying to retire, but are having difficulty finding an internal successor. This issue is putting the pressure on the HR departments and the CEO. A contributing factor to this issue of a lack of internal successors is the fact that many policies and operations are already in place, which means many managers have not had any executive experience. Thus, if the executive team is looking for a candidate with prior executive experience, they will have to look outside of their organization to find a successor. Another issue related to the lack of internal candidates is many nonprofits are complex and second-level executives are often siloed into their functional area. Before a second-level executive can take on the position of CEO, they first need to learn about the other functional areas and be sure they understand how they operate in relation to the company as a whole.
Now, what are the best ways to solve this issue of a lack of internal candidates?
One option is to hire an executive from another company and train them, but this person is in very high demand. A second option is to hire a manager from outside, or promote a manager from within. There can be reservations about hiring a manager and training them to be an executive, but if they have the skill set an organization is looking for, then they are every bit as qualified as a more experienced candidate. The last option is to find another nonprofit that would like to combine with yours.