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Succession Planning for Nonprofits


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The unexpected departure of a nonprofit’s leader can cause organizational chaos. A nonprofit may establish policies and procedures to guide leadership transitions—unplanned and planned—to prevent damage to the organization and its work.


Succession planning—putting in place policies and procedures to ensure smooth and orderly leadership transitions—helps nonprofits prevent organizational chaos and harm to programs and projects if crucial staff or officers depart unexpectedly. Succession plans may also detail the procedures for handling routine or expected leadership changes (e.g., a plan might call for the formation of a search committee to find a new executive director and specify the composition of the committee) and shape efforts to develop staff so that they are ready to step into leadership roles within an organization.

This guide provides links to guides, articles, and model succession plans to help organizations optimize their succession planning. See the Succession Planning library topic at the WeConservePA Library for these and other resources.


These guides provide an in-depth look at the need for and strategies to implement effective succession planning.


These short articles outline key elements of succession planning and offer concise tips to establish or improve a succession plan.

Model Succession Plans

Organizations can use these model plans to craft or inform their succession plans and policies.