As we’ve discussed in previous newsletters and blog posts, here at PLC we strongly believe that ED/CEO succession plans are really important for nonprofits to maintain continuity and plan ahead (check out our blog ‘Why Succession Matters’). It’s also important for your internal leadership development – getting those new and emerging leaders the skills and experiences they need to move their careers forward (it can also help thwart ED burnout). In summary, succession planning can help ensure the health and success of organizations, leaders, and emerging leaders. We think it’s a big deal for our sector.


We all understand, however, that it can be difficult to get the conversation started. Nobody really enjoys talking about leaders moving on or about situations where an ED/CEO might suddenly become unable to do the job. But it is really important to have succession on our radar to make sure that a leadership gap or transition does not affect the work we do in our communities.


To help get the conversation started, here are 15 succession articles, blogs and resources we’ve compiled. Topics range from transition planning templates to leadership training for more junior staff, and everything in between.


1. ‘How to Develop Future Leaders’ from Wall Street Journal. This piece is a step-by-step guide on how to train junior staff members for leadership roles, as this is more cost effective than hiring from the outside. Plus, providing on-the-job training and development helps employees forge a stronger attachment to the organization thus impacting your retention overall.


2. ‘Getting Your Organization Ready for Employee Training & Development‘ from HR Council. Included is a list of issues and changes that can happen in your organization that may indicate the need for training. It also includes the benefits of training and how you can create a culture of learning in your organization.


3. ‘Why Succession Matters‘ from Peel Leadership Centre. Why we think having a succession plan is so important!


4. ‘Succession Planning Made Easy‘ from Imagine Canada. In this piece, the author breaks down what succession planning is, why it’s important, and how to do it well. (Plus, the article contains two other great links!)


5. ‘Transition Matters: Engaging the Board & Executives in the Phases of Succession Planning‘ from Praxis. This is a downloadable PDF presentation that was delivered at a conference for nonprofit leaders. In-depth and detailed journey of the succession process.


6. ‘Investing in Leadership‘ from Council of Nonprofits. This piece stresses the importance on leadership development within your organization and how hiring from within can be a good idea. It also talks about the importance of being intentional in hiring a diverse staff team.


7. ‘How To Build the Board You Want‘ from Joan Garry Nonprofit Consulting. A great guide for EDs and board members on how to ensure your board is strong and made up of the right people for your organization.


8. ‘The Five Keys to An Effective Succession Plan‘ from Joan Garry Nonprofit Consulting. Another great piece from Joan Garry; a simple yet thoughtful jumping off point for your succession plan.


9. ‘Why Do We Spend So Much Time Developing Senior Leaders and So Little Training New Managers?‘ from Harvard Business Review. The case for investing in leadership training and development for your staff team.


10. ‘Are You Able To Find a Leader in a Haystack?‘ from HR Zone. There are benefits and drawbacks to both promoting leaders from within your organization and hiring externally, so what’s right for your organization?


11. ‘O Leader, where art thou?‘ from Vision Management. Posted in March of 2016, this article shows the numbers around the mass leadership transition underway, and down the near-future pipeline, in the Ontario nonprofit sector. Current and relevant for all of us. The article also provides a few options what to do when your leader moves on.


12. ‘Transition Plan Template for Executive Directors‘ from Joan Garry Nonprofit Consulting. From the blog, ‘So here is my 8-step transition plan template for how to depart from your nonprofit organization the right way.’ Joan provides a helpful guide on how to move on from your organization in a way that leaves them strong and ready for what’s to come.


13. ’50 Practical Tips for Nonprofit Succession Planning’ from Wild Apricot. After speaking with hundreds of leaders in the nonprofit sector about their succession processes and experiences, Wild Apricot has compiled the best tips into a long and helpful list.


14. ‘Six Strategies for Nonprofit Leadership Transition’ from Stanford Social Innovation Review. As leaders and founders of a thriving organization, the authors understood the questions, burdens and risks associated with a leadership transition. Nearly two years through the process, they have some insightful strategies to share.


15. ‘Succession Planning for Nonprofits of All Sizes’ from Blue Avocado. Blue Avocado takes a positive approach to transition here; it’s an inevitability that leaders (and everyone else) in an organization will eventually retire or move on so let’s see how we can make this a positive experience and opportunity for transformative change for everyone.



Supporting organizations to develop ED/CEO and/or Board succession plans is a big part of what we do here at PLC. We work with leaders and Boards to develop clear understandings of their roles and relationships; help ready emerging leaders for more responsibilities; and to help prepare organizations for emergencies or transitions. Contact us to learn more!


Do you have any great resources on succession and leadership training and development? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave them in the comments below or send them to us at


Until next time,

The PLC Team

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