Interim Executive Directors Are A Powerful Tool for Nonprofit Organizations
As a social impact firm, STRATA9 is well-versed in key issues surrounding the direction of nonprofits –supporting them during formation, stand-up, and at times dissolution. The field of Interim Executives has matured to become a powerful tool for nonprofits navigating unchartered territories. As part of our professional development series, we sponsored a focused discussion on the industry and shared key insights into the diligence necessary when selecting an Interim Executive Director. Our CEO, Rosye Blancas Cloud, and Keisha Stephenson Taylor, Senior Director of Alumni & Postsecondary Engagement at NAF, were joined by a diverse group of experts including David Harris, Managing Partner at Interim Executive Solutions; Barbra Kavanaugh, Director of Interim Executive Network; and Robert Jordan, CEO of InterimExecs LLC. During this virtual event, we discussed the role of Interim Executive Directors, when to hire one, and why the changing nonprofit landscape makes their role critical to an organization’s success.
The pandemic has led to turnover in all sectors, and nonprofits are certainly not unique. Leaders are leaving at a rapid rate. As trusted seasoned executives who can wear many different hats, Interim Executive Directors can be valuable tools in this chaotic landscape. They fundraise, develop culture, and bring a fresh perspective to issues that are often unique to a specific industry. Having an Interim Executive allows your organization to realize where your business plan can be improved.
How do you know you need an interim?
- Your organization's mission is unclear
- The programs you run may not align with your mission
- You might not have the right skills or knowledge to make that mission a reality
Thanks to high inflation, lingering effects from the pandemic, and a more scrutinizing workforce, organizations are experiencing high levels of vulnerability. This means “Interim Executive Directors are busier than ever before, especially as post-COVID turnover continues to increase. This brings a need for critical leadership,” says Robert Jordan, CEO of InterimExecs LLC. Support for organizations is often low, but Interim Execs offer a chance to bridge that gap. “If an organization is in a situation where an Interim Executive Director is needed, it's avoiding a lot of risk by bringing them on. They’re agile and ready to adjust to changes in the timeline and the organization’s needs,” says Rosye Blancas Cloud, President, and CEO of STRATA9.
Interim Executives are flexible professionals skilled in assessing where your organization is today to improve outcomes as much as possible. Professional interims are especially valuable because they bring a critical ability to see past the noise and objectively target parts of the organization that aren’t working. Bias from existing staff or board members can result in a lack of willingness to pivot the strategic plan or acceptance of where your organization can improve. This is where a professional interim can prove especially useful as they often come from outside the organization and can more objectively narrow in on key organizational issues. Interim Executive Directors can “focus on structure, process and accountability[which]really drive organizational success,” says Barbra Kavanaugh, Director of Interim Executive Network. Their outside perspective allows them to uniquely hone in on issues within an organization, something David Harris, Managing Partner of Executive Interim Solutions, knows well.
“Interim Executive Directors don’t try to bring new perspectives on what organizations can do in the future; we bring a mirror to the board as to what is really happening in the organization and what may need to change,” says David. Their purpose is to help your organization reflect on what you do well, what you struggle with, and make the correct changes–not radically change the purpose and plans your organization has already established.
If your organization is in need of an interim, bringing one on can help you avoid risk and strategically plan your organization's future. STRATA9 works with trusted partners throughout this landscape and is eager to continue advancing the practice of Interim Executive Directors across the nonprofit sector. Our webinars are designed to increase the impact of nonprofits and our team can help provide the executive-level insights you need that will set you up for success. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or sign up for future professional development opportunities.