Kids grow up so fast. At least, that’s what they say. And for some nonprofits — such as Parent Associations — Board Members volunteer when their children are of age, and they exit when their kids do. Having a board that comes and goes this frequently is sometimes accompanied by challenges. We’ve heard tales of some outgoing board members that already have a foot out the door when it comes time to make the transition. Perhaps they aren’t as helpful as they could have been if they were committed to seeing the job through to the end.
But having an unhelpful board during succession isn’t just a problem for short-term members. In other groups, the board tends to stick around year after year. As the board learns and works through the organization’s unique challenges, this type of staying power can be helpful. But when transition time comes, the same lackluster dedication can also sometimes be problematic.
Ways the Outgoing Board Can Be Helpful
A smooth transition is one of the best things the outgoing board can do during their tenure. Having a solid transition plan in place from the beginning is a great way to ensure this happens. Use the following tips starting at orientation to ensure the duty of a smooth transition is engrained in each board member.
- Create a timeline for planned successions. PTA bylaws normally have language that asks officers to hold the position for two years, no more. Whether the officer’s agreed time is up, or they plan to leave early for some unexpected reason, transparency and following a transition timeline are important.
- Make a list of tasks and responsibilities for each role. Be sure to include tips and techniques for making the job efficient.
- Ask each board member to keep track of the outgoing commitments that the incoming officer is expected to keep.
- Document everything, including passwords, procedures, lockbox codes, keys, old files, etc.
- Try to cut down on your to-do’s before you exit. Leaving your successor with a pile of paperwork is no way to accomplish a smooth transition.
- Schedule one or more meetings between the outgoing and incoming officers to begin and finalize the handoff.
If your outgoing board member is the treasurer, be sure to check out our Treasurer Transition guide which includes a Treasurer’s checklist.
When the Board is Unhelpful
If you’ve been handed a puzzle with missing pieces, take a deep breath. It may take some time to figure things out, but there are some strategies to get you there faster. Take some time to review the following documents or items for your group to get started:
- CC&Rs, Bylaws or Standing Rules
- Articles of Incorporation
- Past Financial Reports
- Vendor Contracts
- Insurance Policies
- Past Board Meeting Minutes
- Gather logins to software
- Make a calendar/list of important occasions, fundraisers, events, deadlines and renewal dates
If there are any willing participants from the outgoing board, make a plan to meet. If not, gather your new board and come up with a new game plan. Be sure to take thorough notes during this transition period, and make observations of what you found challenging during the transition — so you can fix it for your successor.
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