Why Hire an Interim Executive Director (IED)?

The need for nonprofit interim executive leadership can occur for a variety of reasons:

  1. during a period of nonprofit organizational transition brought on by human resource issues at the top,
  2. an operating crisis that existing management at your nonprofit organization is unable to handle, or
  3. a sudden departure of a staff leader, chief executive, CEO, or executive director (ED) at your nonprofit.

Whether your nonprofit Board intervenes to initiate the removal, or the Executive Director exits for another opportunity, the change is disruptive and causes upheaval for your nonprofit organization and its stakeholders.

Often the first response of a nonprofit Board is “how can we get through this transition quickly and cost effectively with minimum disruption?” In reality, this nonprofit transition is a valuable opportunity for the Board to pause, reflect on where they’ve been, where your nonprofit organization should go and what skills the next executive director should have to move the organization forward. Additional, unnecessary problems can arise from this transition due to the following:

  1. Your nonprofit Board decides to designate a current staff member as the nonprofit’s interim executive director.
    Potential problems:
    a. The other staff resent the elevation of their colleague
    b. The designated Interim Executive Leader has a difficult time continuing their current duties during their Interim assignment and resuming their subordinate status when a new ED is hired.
  2. Your Nonprofit Board assumes the transition will be quick and they appoint one of their members to act as an Interim Executive Leader or ED.
    Potential problems:
    a. The search (which typically lasts 6-9 months) takes longer than your Board expected and insufficient attention is paid to your nonprofit organization’s day-to-day services (or outside responsibilities that the Board member might have)
    b. Your Board is occupied with maintaining the status quo and misses the opportunity to think creatively about what your nonprofit’s future should be.

Interim leadership at a nonprofit enables the organization to take the time to conduct a careful, comprehensive search for new permanent nonprofit leadership. A nonprofit interim executive provides valuable objective insights into operations, personnel and institutional performance for the Board of Directors and can work with the nonprofit’s search committee to determine important skills and experience required for the next leader.

At Interim Executive Solutions (IES), we call this the “interim management opportunity.” A nonprofit can hire a seasoned professional manager to serve as a catalyst; bridging the management gap while focusing on key issues that need to be addressed to help cultivate the work environment and improve the chances for the new, permanent leader to be successful.

IES offers nonprofit Boards, nonprofit executive search firms, and nonprofit funders the opportunity to bring in seasoned leadership with extensive nonprofit management and nonprofit strategic planning experience to the enterprise early in the transition process to help prepare the ground for the new permanent leadership to land successfully.

What Does IES Provide?

IES offers a roster of seasoned business leaders from a variety of different industry sectors and nonprofit organizations. Our nonprofit interim executive leaders and nonprofit interim executive directors can fill vacated CEO, chief executive, ED, and other leadership roles at nonprofits. All IES executives bring to their assignment a wealth of successful nonprofit leadership experience, a history of senior level responsibility and accountability, management team-building skills, membership in the “IES support network” and access to an extensive “knowledge base” of for-profit and not-for-profit management best practices. Because time is critical, our nonprofit interim leaders are usually able to move into their assignments on extremely short notice.

IES nonprofit executives are selected for their management style and code of conduct that guide their interactions with nonprofit Board and nonprofit Staff as expert interim leaders. IES professionals are also technical resources with skills ranging from project managing and facilitating nonprofit Board retreats to developing an informational dashboard to support long-term nonprofit strategic planning. IES does not perform search functions however we partner with many nonprofit search firms to support their work in identifying appropriate, top-notch interim nonprofit leaders on your behalf.

Once IES places a nonprofit Interim ED (IED)  into your organization, a partner Liaison stays in regular communication with both your nonprofit’s Board and with the designated IED to provide additional support. This ensures a satisfactory experience for each and every nonprofit organization whom we serve.


Printable IES Interim Executive Director Overview