Interim Directors and Their Role for Nonprofit Organizations

Juliet D'cruz

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Hiring an inappropriate person for a senior leadership position is one of the most harmful and costly mistakes a company can make. It is possible that few nonprofit organizations have an executive bench that can be strengthened enough to work well on a critical vacant position. Considering factors can be the length of time required to find the right candidate, and the temptation to settle with that right person should be so strong. Nowadays, some nonprofit organizations have started using interim directors as a way of avoiding this problem. There is a small but extending body of knowledge, time, and resources around this practice called interim leadership. However, companies still have little information on the use of interim candidates in leadership positions.

What is the term nonprofit interim director stands for?

The interim Director’s placement is intended for a nonprofit organization undergoing a leadership transition and trying to stabilize the breathing room during the transition cycle. Interim directors have vast experience in keeping organizations in operational condition during the period of transition. The placement of an interim leadership allows an organization the time to prepare and carry out the searching process while burden-freeing non-executive and board members from taking on the former leadership work in addition to their recent duties.

Interim leadership offers a list of business leaders who belong to various industry and nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit interim leaders and nonprofit interim executive directors can fill vacant positions of CEO, chief executive officers, chief finance officer, executive Director, and other leadership roles at the nonprofit organization. These interim directors bring a successful leadership experience into their assignments, a senior level responsibility and accountability, team-building qualities, and access to the vast world of knowledge for-profit and nonprofit management best practices. Because of the shortage of time, nonprofit interim leaders have to move towards short notice assignments.

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Benefits of Hiring an Interim Nonprofit Leadership:

  • Efficient use of time and resources:

 It gives an organization space that needs to organize a searching procedure.

  • Stability:

An interim director provides stability to an organization in trouble.

  • Objectivity when most needed:

The interim Director can do a strong, honest, and unbiased internal operational analysis.

  • Relieves staff workload:

Many times, one or more staff members do the former Executive Director’s work; such hiring can relieve the employees from overburdening.

  • Distinguish the Board and staff member roles:

It is true among small nonprofit organizations where board participants may double as staff already exists.

  • Preserves companies’ visibility, reputation, and donor relations:

 An interim director can communicate and maintain meaningful relationships.

Why organizations Hire an Interim Director?

The need to hire nonprofit interim leadership for a variety of reasons:

  • During a period of nonprofit organizational transition, human resource issues can arise on the front.
  • Existing leadership may not be able to handle many operating nonprofit organizational problems.
  • A sudden departure of a vital staff leader, CEO, or Executive Director (ED) from the nonprofit organization.

Whether nonprofit Board members intervene in removing the Director’s exits for another opportunity, the change is damaging and can cause upheaval for nonprofit organizations and their stakeholders.

What Nonprofit Leadership Specialists do?


Nonprofit interim directors provide objective assessments of nonprofit organizations, a sustainable mission, governance, and operations. From various analysis, interim directors help the Board develop strategies that strengthen the nonprofit organization, provide a transition plan for the future, and proper methods to get ready for what may come next.


The nonprofit interim Director is experienced in understanding a nonprofit organization’s culture and operations, connecting with stakeholders, establishing a working environment for staff and Board to act on the most critical issues. Moreover, their Partners stay throughout the entire transition.


Interim directors provide mentoring, coaching, project management, and support services to nonprofit Boards members and staff leadership for long-term sustainability.

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Interim directors guide a variety of social-serving organizations through leadership transitions. Highly experienced consultants work collaboratively with Board and staff members, provides management stability achieved by the professional and strategic leadership.  Hiring an interim director can give a unique and honest assessment essential for the nonprofit organization’s health. Nonprofit interim leadership offers nonprofit Boards, executive search firms, and funders the opportunity to bring in leadership with vast nonprofit management and strategic planning to the enterprise early in the transition process, which helps to prepare the base for the new permanent leadership to deal successfully.

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