Succession Planning for Foundation Boards

Challenge, Opportunity, and a Path Forward

François de la Rochefoucauld famously noted, “The only thing constant in life is change,” and well-run foundations must plan accordingly, especially when it comes to succession of board leadership. This article will explore how private foundations can plan for changes in board leadership and weather the transition as a cohesive, effective unit.

To ensure the stability and efficacy of the foundation, you know that you need a plan in place to replace board members—whether they leave as planned (e.g., retiring after decades of service) or unexpectedly (e.g., relocating to a new city). After all, a sudden change in board membership can be disruptive. At the very least, other family members will need to take up the slack. At worst, the loss of an experienced, skilled board member, especially during a time of stress from some other event, could prove destabilizing, reverberating within the family and compromising your work.

Rather than scrambling to deal with the fallout of a board member’s departure, it’s clearly preferable to plan for succession, passing on your organization’s strengths to the next generation of leadership while the senior members are still actively involved. Other reasons to plan now include:

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