RALEIGH, N.C.— The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits released their new report, “Countdown to the Inevitable: North Carolina Nonprofit CEOs in Transition,” part of a multi-year, statewide initiative on executive succession and leadership development, to help non-profits and their leaders navigate executive transitions successfully.

High profile leaders across the state have retired, resigned or have had unplanned exits. This has an impact on communities and the report and research was gathered to reflect accurate data of what the future holds for executive transitions and how non-profits are planning for them, the organization said.

During 2015, the center conducted confidential, statewide surveys of over 640 CEOs to learn about their career paths, their plans for their own executive transitions (whenever they occur), and their jobs and boards of directors.

Some key findings included: need for boards to embrace their governance responsibilities around succession planning and execute them in partnership with the CEO as a component of “sound risk management and effective planning;” importance of strong and engaged boards who work collaboratively with the CEO; and a non-profit’s staff to carry out its mission. Additionally, funders are essential to a non-profits’ success and ability to meet the needs of those they serve.

“This report shows us how critical it is that funders stay the course with non-profits that they’ve funded through periods of executive transition. Nonprofits are particularly vulnerable during this time. Everyone’s waiting to see who the new leader will be, but the work of the organization can’t be put on hold. This ‘wait-and-see’ attitude until a new leader is appointed puts funders’ investments at risk and can cause an unnecessary loss of momentum,” said Trisha Lester, the center’s acting president.

In addition, the study shows the need for North Carolina non-profits to reach out to a more diverse pool of individuals specifically around race, ethnicity and age to provide greater opportunities for executive leadership to grow and strengthen the state’s non-profit sector, the center remarked.

“The demographics in our state have changed greatly in the past few years, and non-profits need to reflect those changes in their executive leadership. The more diversity we have in our leaders, the healthier and more sustainable the sector will be over the long term,” said Barbara JessieBlack, center board chair.

info: ncnonprofits.org.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.