Musings and Calls to Action by Chuck Re Corr

  1. Unanimous board votes should not happen often. Differing opinions are healthy.
  2. For full transparency, open your board meetings up to others. Anyone should be able to attend and listen. Invite key volunteers, donors, staff and partners.
  3. Bypass board cliques and develop rapport by randomizing board seating arrangements. Strategically place name tags in different places each meeting.
  4. Encourage volunteerism! Track and celebrate individual and collective volunteer hours for the board.
  5. Routinely conduct a 15–30-minute executive session. Board meeting is fact. Executive Session is typically opinion.
  6. What have you read lately to be a better board member? Create a Director’s Professional Book Reading List.
    1. Check out NACD: National Association of Corporate Directors.  $1250 per year.
  7. Appoint a parliamentarian who navigates bylaws, meeting rules, strategic plan, keeps the clock, etc.
  8. Create a living organizational notebook for legal, historical, institutional capital, etc.
  9. Create Board job descriptions.
  10. Read 76 pages of NC Non-Profit Act – Chapter 55.
  11. Consider Legal, Moral and Behavioral Requirements.
  12. Create and update your organization’s Succession Plan.
  13. Develop a functional and meaningful on-boarding process.
  14. Use confidential ballots for Director Elections.
  15. Create and update documents annually: Cash Management, Gift Acceptance, Business Development Plan, Strategic Plan, Succession Plan, Nominating Procedures, On-Boarding Procedures, Decision-Making Procedures, Separation of Authority, Crisis Management Plan (What could go wrong? Everything.), Separation of Authority Policy, Conflict of Interest, Whistle Blower and Planned Giving Policy.
  16. Ask board members to provide their favorite wisdom quotes for future board members to read. Add them to a wall in the boardroom and on the website.
  17. Share New Board Member Packages at least 2 weeks in advance of 1st Make job descriptions a part of the package.
  18. Identify organizational values and have board members invest in and develop culture.
  19. Create a Talent Recruitment Plan and database for new attracting new board members.
  20. Develop an Advisory Committee for retiring board members who remain invested and to also create a path for future board member superstars.
  21. Meeting agendas should be developed and rehearsed by ED and the Board Chair.
  22. Evaluate Term Limits. Each year, a board member’s role (work, wealth and wisdom) should increase.

Chuck ReCorr’s Bullet Points on The Importance of Succession Planning

  • Donors identify with an organization’s mission, but significant donors are more inclined to support an organization with a succession plan versus one without a plan. Plans should be pro-offered as an element of an organization’s sustainability planning.
  • Succession planning is a board responsibility, it should not be delegated.
  • It is not “If” you lose your Executive Director, it’s “When?” Leaders retire, quit, get replaced, move, take ill, or get hired away. Usually, the loss of a leader happens at the most inopportune times.
  • Do you have someone in your organization who can “Step-Up” and successfully run the organization in an emergency? If not, you need to recruit someone for your board who would be willing to step Down, and run the organization until a replacement can be found.
  • If you have an internal candidate to replace your Executive Director, do they know of your expectations and are they willing to “Step-Up?” Have you assessed their strengths and weaknesses and created a talent development plan for them using external and internal education resources, and board members as mentors?
  • Succession Plan assessment should be a standing item on your board meeting agendas. Ask the question, “Has anything changed since our last meeting that would negatively impact our succession plan?” If “No,” move on, if “Yes,” as soon as practical, discuss what has changed, and the potential impact, then amend your succession plan.
  • Succession planning may be assigned to the Nominating Committee. The committee should develop and maintain a copy of the board-approved succession plan and a file on internal as well as external candidates.
  • Your Succession Plan should be detailed. For example, “Where does the Executive Director keep the keys for their files? What documents does the ED have away from the office?”
  • The criteria for change of control should be outlined in the succession plan. For example, “What has to happen for the plan to be activated?” Additionally, there should be a checklist for legal document authorization changes such as bank accounts, contract agreements, etc.
  • The procedure for replacing an Executive Director should be referenced in the organizational By-Laws.
  • The Succession Plan should include the identification of who in the organization will be the spokesperson responding to any media, or stakeholder inquiries.
  • Proactive communication about succession events and succession planning should be outlined.
  • Ask your major donors and major donor candidates to review your Succession Plan. It is a document that allows them to see the quality of work your board does and can inspire confidence in donors that their gifts will be overseen by a responsible board of directors. Also, they may have some helpful suggestions.

Now, go forth and succeed by completing a Succession Plan for your organization. Your staff, volunteers, donors, board and community are counting on you.


Earning a Grant for Succession Planning

The Michael R. Cunningham Grant

for Nonprofit Leadership Succession Plan Development

in honor of Chuck ReCorr

The Impact of Investing
in Nonprofit Leadership

Screenshot of a video with a blue overlay and white play button

Succession Planning Series

Succession planning helps you make sure your nonprofit can live on for generations to come. Yet, starting the process can feel daunting. That’s why we’ve created a video series to show you how to execute succession planning well!

Screenshot of a video with a blue overlay and white play button

Succession Planning Series

Succession planning helps you make sure your nonprofit can live on for generations to come. Yet, starting the process can feel daunting. That’s why we’ve created a video series to show you how to execute succession planning well!

How to Take Care and Feed Your Donor/Investor Base

with Matt Cronlund and Chuck ReCorr

What’s so Great About Harvard and Investing in Nonprofit Human Capital

with Staci Barfield and Chuck ReCorr