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Managing donor relationships in times of leadership transition

January 21, 2013
by Terry Axelrod
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A step-by-step plan for assuring a smooth transition with your donors.

Several of the CEOs of nonprofits we work with are retiring this year. Some were the founders of their organizations; some have just been there for years. In all cases, their donors love them and give to their organizations largely because of their personal relationship to this CEO.

Since we train groups in teams of staff, board, and volunteers, we always hear the concerns of the rest of the team. "How should we communicate this transition to the donors so as to ensure their continued support of our organization, even after our beloved leader moves on?"

In some cases, the next leader has been selected and will overlap with the outgoing CEO. In others, there will be a hiatus, often with an interim CEO appointed, further jeopardizing donor loyalty. In some cases, the outgoing leader truly enjoyed cultivating donor relationships; for others, this role may not have come as naturally, yet the donors have come to expect direct contact with the leader.

My advice:



Terry Axelrod

CEO, Benevon

Terry Axelrod


Terry Axelrod is founder and CEO of Benevon. She has more than thirty years of experience in the...

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