Building Capability: The importance of good Succession Planning

It seems like nearly every not-for-profit organisation I talk to these days is struggling to find people willing to put up their hands for positions on their Boards (or Committees of Management).

And without a well-functioning governing body, any organisation is going to struggle to deliver on their Purpose, Vision, and Mission. So how do you stop your organisation being one of these statistics and limping along with an under-resourced Board…?

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I know I bang on about planning…a lot…but it really does make a big difference to your likelihood of success in anything you do.  So, together with your fellow Board Members, plan in advance how you are going to go about bringing new people into your Board – brainstorm together all the possible actions your organisation could take to inspire and motivate the right people to get involved.


Make sure you have documented, up-to-date, clear, and comprehensive Role Statements for the positions you need to fill.  And have a copy of your organisation’s Rules, Strategic Plan, and latest Annual Report available to share with your prospective Board Members, so they have a reasonable understanding of your organisation, why you exist, and what you are trying to achieve.


This is probably the single biggest problem I see with Succession Planning – so many organisations leave it until the last minute to start trying to recruit nominees…and in doing so they risk either not getting anyone at all, or not getting the right people (sometimes this can be worse than not getting anyone at all!)
If you take nothing else from this article, at least make sure you start Succession Planning at least 3 months in advance – longer if you have some of your key people stepping down.


Adverts and emails seeking Board nominations are great for raising awareness, but I find rarely do they actually bring people flocking to you wanting to take on positions. They are definitely necessary, but I believe they are only part of the strategy. I think brainstorming a list of suitable prospects – either from your organisation’s members and existing stakeholders, or from your broader networks – and then making the effort for one of your Board team to have a personal conversation (face to face, wherever possible) with each individual, is critical to engaging and inspiring interest.

  1. And finally, make sure you go through the proper processes for bring a new person onto your Board – whether it be by election at your Annual General Meeting, appointment to a Casual Vacancy, or some other method as prescribed in your governing documents – follow the process so their appointment is transparent and legitimate.

So in summary: do your Succession Planning, do it in advance, and do it properly!  Follow these tips and you are sure to have greater success and your organisation will be all the better for it!

Need some help with your Succession Planning?
Contact Benefolk now to find out more and ask about my new Board Succession Support Package.

Megan Buntine
11 April 2023

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