Sometimes it makes sense to bring on a consultant in a more internal organizational capacity. Even if temporary, you often need specialized nonprofit administrative skills that you and your team do not readily possess. This is most common during start-up, expansions, or when in the midst of a major expected or unexpected transition. And, this is where a consultant can cross-over into direct, intensive Transitional Management Services, which is often referred to as Interim Executive Leadership or an Interim Executive Director.
In the traditional consulting framework, we already lead organizations through start-up or expansion efforts, and routinely help resolve programmatic and overall operational problems along the way. But Interim Executive Leadership is a heightened service to consider when the best answer is an “in-house” role. As opposed to traditional consulting, which is more removed from day-to-day operations, the Interim Executive Director does assume some or all general management responsibilities of the organization. The IED becomes your authorized leader, charged with decision-making responsibilities and formally representing the agency while serving their term. Far more than a “place holder,” Interim Executive Leadership is a smart way to go when any of the following occur:
- You are starting-up a brand new organization and are not yet prepared to hire a full-time Executive Director, yet the Board of Directors cannot manage all that needs to be happening at this stage of your existence.
- The Founder/Executive Director is leaving (whether this be retirement or other reason), making succession planning—and a well-coordinated transition—a necessity.
- You have operated for a while, but never had a paid Executive Director until now.
- Your CEO/Executive Director exited unexpectedly; due to death or incapacitation, resignation, or termination by the Board.
The primary benefit of using an Interim Executive Director is that it allows the organization to take the time necessary to find the “right” permanent leader. It also enables the nonprofit to solidify all aspects of operations and structure before attempting to recruit its full-time CEO/Executive Director. Clearly, you can attract better talent if your program is sound. So, this period of transition is an opportunity. Plus, it is not easy to find an Executive Director that is highly skilled in program and organizational development. Strengthening your operations before you even start the recruitment process enables the new Executive Director to immediately step into a management role rather than a turnaround focus.
Interim Executive Leadership contracts can vary depending on the needs of the organization. Typical time frames are 3-6 months, at 15-30 hours a week. Primary responsibilities during this time include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting a comprehensive organizational assessment
- Leading strategic planning and the development of fiscal development plans
- Creating or revising Policies and Procedures, process tools and protocols, and quality assurance systems
- Facilitating organizational improvement activities—structural, fiscal, programmatic, overall operational
- Supervising staff
- Team building
- Staff and Board training
- Repairing or building partnerships
- Fundraising (grants, corporate sponsorships, Major Gifts, private donors, and possibly events)
- Preparing for smooth transition to a new Executive Director, including compilation of a transition manual/package
- Leading in the recruitment and hiring process for the new permanent Executive Director
- Aiding the new Executive Director in the transition/adjustment to their new role
All work is performed remotely, with travel as needed.