June 27, 2022

Nonprofit CEO Transitions: The New CEO’s Wishlist

Are you in the midst of a nonprofit CEO transition? That is, either leaving a position or seeking one?

If yes, this video will help you make a successful transition.

Discover the five items new nonprofit CEOs told me they wished they had requested from their predecessor to make their onboarding even more dynamic.

Resource Mentioned

For more about CEO transitions, download the New CEO Study, 7 New Nonprofit CEO Success Secrets.

Also, check out this question list to use during your next CEO interview to reveal hidden nonprofit challenges.


Transcript of CEO Transitions: The New CEO’s Wishlist

Handoffs can be successful or not so successful. If you’re a departing CEO or a CEO starting a new position, what items should you leave behind or request to make the transition successful? I spoke with some CEOs about their wish lists, and here are the five items they thought would make the most dramatic difference in successful transitions.

Number 1.

A briefing paper from each department or section of the organization. This gives the new CEO an overview of what’s happening and helps the staff to summarize what their greatest needs are. It’s a great starting point for all the conversations that will take place when the CEO gets on board.

Number 2.

An explanation of the budget. Numbers don’t lie, but the history of the numbers is very important to understand. Why is this item in the budget? How long has it been here? Is it a sacred cow, or can it be mooooved around? What is the background story of the way the budget was built?

Number 3.

The 3rd item that the new CEO could really use is a list of donors and funders who’d be willing to speak with the new CEO—about where the organization is in terms of other relationships that the funder or donor has. Where is their place in the community? Where their strengths are. What they see and why they’re committed to this organization. This will give the new CEO a sense of their place in the nonprofit universe in the community they serve.

Number 4

The 4th item is a list of former board members, former staff members, and former funders—a chance for the new CEO to understand maybe where things didn’t work out. Where there are some weaknesses, some perspective about not everyone loves us and to tell us why that is and what we need to do in the future.

Number 5

The 5th item is extremely practical. It’s your list of fixers. Who to call when the facilities have a challenge. Who to call when you have a tech problem. Another fellow CEO from another nonprofit who’s similar to yours, who always knows great insights about what’s happening with your national organization. Those kinds of people. Your go-to people. This will help the new CEO to calm down and be less stressed and know that they have some resources they can go to for help when things go bump in the night.

What to Do With CEO Transitions: The New CEO’s Wishlist

If you are a new CEO, ask for these items before your predecessor gets out the door. If you’re planning on leaving, begin to gather these so the successful transition can take place. Share this video if you know a CEO in either of these places.

The link is here if you want to know more about the study. If you’d like some guidance, it’s super easy to reach out to me by chat or email.




Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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