Executive Transition + Succession Planning

The only constant is change

There is risk in transition, but there is also enormous opportunity during times of transition to strengthen our missions, which are essential to a healthy and vibrant Maine.

MANP is committed to supporting mission-driven "leadershifts." Succession planning is not just about what to do when your executive director leaves. At its core, it is a strategy for keeping mission in the forefront as your organization navigates inevitable change. It is a process to identify organizational values and develop practices that safeguard the important work of your organization.

How MANP Can Help

MANP offers:

  • Curated guides and articles on succession planning (including emergency succession planning), developing leadership capacity, transitions management, new leader orientation, resources for departing CEOs, and more.
  • A Mission-Driven Executive Transitions toolkit for the nuts and bolts of managing an executive director transition, including an overview of the phases of transition, managing a search, making a hire, and orienting a leader.
  • On-demand training for boards to help everyone get on the same page about the process and roles in managing leadership transition.
  • Endorsed referrals for high-quality executive search services at a competitive price.
  • Our Leadership Institute for Executive Directors can help leaders strengthen teams and develop internal cultures of learning and leadership that will help the organization be more prepared to navigate inevitable change.

Where Should You Start?

  • Visit our resource library for emergency succession planning resources.
  • Consider using the MANP Business Finder to find a consultant with executive transitions or interim experience and/or use our Mission-Driven Executive Transitions toolkit for step-by-step guidance.
  • Consider the option of an interim executive director.
  • Learn about managing executive transitions.
  • Read our guest blog series featuring the reflections of leaders in the field on preparing for and managing leadership transition.
  • Get your board on the same page with a 2-3 hour training, scheduled at your convenience. This training includes access to our Mission-Driven Executive Transitions toolkit for step-by-step guidance.
  • Consider hiring support, such as an executive search consultant.
  • Is your CEO a founder? Be sure to check our resource library for resources on Founder Transitions.
  • The transition doesn’t end when you hire. Give thought now to the supports you'll need when bringing on your new Executive Director.

Executive Transitions Toolkit

Executive Transitions Toolkit Cover ImageMANP’s Mission-Driven Executive Transitions Toolkit is designed to give small to mid-sized organizations a framework they can use to design a thoughtful process to find an executive director who fits the current and future leadership needs of the organization.

This easy-to-follow 30-page toolkit will walk your board through the three phases of executive transitions management:

  • Prepare: Sharpen strategic direction and assess strengths, opportunities, and risks.
  • Search: Identify and hire a new chief executive, while also stabilizing the organization in preparation for a new leader.
  • Thrive: Support the new leader, ensuring they get off to a good start and are set up for success.

“We have been using the toolkit extensively to guide our transition team and found the information to be practical and useful. We couldn’t have been successful as a transition team without the toolkit!

Each section includes a checklist; a list of recommended reading; guiding questions; insights directly from others who have experienced, led or advised leadership transitions; and a list of templates and samples included with the toolkit (22 total!) so you don't have to start from scratch.

“This kit was incredible. The price of $50 was a pittance compared to its value to me and our Transition Committee. It’s worth many times that price.”

MANP knows that each leadership transition is unique. Your organization is rooted in core values that guide your focus and actions. In addition to the resources, tools and advice in this toolkit, we encourage you to use these “deep roots” to anchor and support your organization’s executive transition process.

Cost: $50 MANP members / $100 Nonmembers
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Board Training

Preparing the board to successfully manage a transition is the first step in a successful process.

The Clock is Ticking: Stepping Up to the Challenge of Leadership Transition is a two-hour training designed for nonprofit boards that are anticipating a retirement or have just learned that their Executive Director or CEO will be leaving and “the clock is ticking.” The goal is to ensure that the full board appreciates their responsibility and the essential elements to ensure a successful leadership transition.

The training will cover:

  • The board’s role in the transition and search process
  • Turning the transition from a liability to an opportunity
  • Positioning the organization to successfully attract the very best candidates
  • An overview of the essential elements of the transition process and timeline
  • Assessing your capacity to manage the search
  • The cost of a search and transition – the obvious and the not so obvious
  • Managing communication with staff, key stakeholders, and your community
  • First steps and next steps – guidance on where to begin

For additional support, referral to leadership transition consultants is also available.

Cost: $800 MANP members / $1,200 Nonmembers 

The training includes a copy of MANP’s Mission-Driven Executive Transition Toolkit.

This training is offered in partnership with Starboard Leadership Consulting. For more information or to schedule a training contact Molly O’Connell by email.


Executive Search Services

Starboard Leadership Consulting Logo

Hiring an executive director is one of the top responsibilities of a Board of Directors and outside guidance can be invaluable to a successful outcome.

MANP's Business Finder includes consultants who assist in leadership transition in a variety of capacities in addition to many other types of services and vendors. In recognition of the significant investment organizations can make hiring consultant support to fully manage an executive search, MANP also conducted a thorough process to identify an endorsed executive search partner who:

  • has extensive experience providing executive search and leadership transitions guidance to Maine nonprofits;
  • demonstrates deep commitment to, and understanding of, Maine’s unique nonprofit sector;
  • models values of genuine partnership with their clients and MANP; and
  • offers MANP members competitive prices and excellent overall value.

Typical support in a managed search includes:

  • Assessment of the organization’s strengths, challenges and strategic leadership needs.
  • Support to develop a clear and compelling guiding documents such as a position profile, job description, job ad, and compensation package.
  • Design and implementation of an effect search process, including proactive candidate sourcing, that results in a strong candidate pool aligned with organizational needs.
  • Candidate screening and support to the board in selecting a candidate.

We encourage organizations seeking search services for executive directors and other key senior leadership positions to contact MANP’s endorsed partner, Starboard Leadership Consulting.


A Little Light Reading

A lot of terrific writing and reporting informs our thinking. A few articles and reports we recommend:

Do you have more to share? We’d love to hear what you’re reading. Email us at HelpDesk@NonprofitMaine.org to share.