In a 2011 study of nonprofit leadership tenure1, with more than 3,000 participating nonprofits nationwide, Chicago area nonprofit executive directors reported the following:

57% anticipate leaving their position by 2015
83% of the organizations they lead do not have a succession plan
45% were not evaluated by their board in the past year
43% could identify no viable internal candidate to replace them

A gap in leadership can be damaging to a healthy nonprofit and even more hazardous to one that is struggling in the current economy.

Planning for leadership transition, expected or unexpected, ensures organizational stability during the process and realizes opportunities for positive change. 

Sustaining leadership continuity through the development of a succession plan, an emergency leadership plan and a transition process will preserve program quality and continuity, keeping everyone focused on organizational goals.  

ESC has a portfolio of comprehensive services to facilitate smooth transitions in leadership. Ranging from preparing a nonprofit for transition eventualities and prepping for a planned departure, to smoothing unexpected gaps with strong, qualified expertise, ESC understands the demands of transition and has services to respond to each unique situation.


Services available in Executive Transition include:

Because ESC is a workforce of professional consulting volunteers who care about metro Chicago’s nonprofit community, our services are available exclusively to nonprofits and public agencies at affordable rates to fit most budgets. Request a no-obligation proposal from ESC

We’ve seen lots of instances of founder’s syndrome, meaning no succession plans, or situations where nonprofits with long track records close because a transition yielded the wrong person as executive director.  If we want effective nonprofits, we need to help them develop a really solid infrastructure.  We need to make some room to think about what makes a healthy and sustainable organization.  
–Kim Van Horn, the Field Foundation 


1Daring to Lead 2011: Select Leadership Findings from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services study of 3,000 executive directors from 10 cities/regions around the country.

To learn more about how foundations are supporting reengagement for nonprofit leaders, visit

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