Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 40


Build a Succession Plan

Advancement offices should formulate a proactive and long-term talent strategy for their mission-critical positions, says a development officer.

Zachary A. Smith, interim associate vice chancellor for development at the University of California, Riverside, recently talked about how advancement leaders can build a succession plan at the CASE Strategic Talent Management conference in Baltimore, Md. He suggests leaders conduct the following confidential exercise:

  • Write down the top 10 mission critical positions (by title) in your organization.
  • List the people currently in those roles and note how many years they've held their position.
  • Assess their performance by identifying them in one of four ways—"high performer," "high potential," "consistent performer" or "poor performer."
  • List one or two people (whether internal or external candidates) who might be ideal in that position if the current person were to leave.
  • Rate those potential candidates based on their professional readiness (whether immediate or if they are in need of further experience/training) for the position.
  • Finally, determine the risk of the current individual in that position leaving—"low," "medium" or "high."

Smith notes that building a succession plan can help an advancement office in numerous ways, including:

  • Developing an overall talent strategy
  • Exposing talent gaps—when mission-critical positions are not being filled by high-performing individuals
  • Focusing retention efforts
  • Developing organization branding and messaging


This article is from the April 15, 2013 issue.

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AdvWeeklyDPL13

Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership
June 6 - 7, 2013
Atlanta, Ga., United States

This conference will concentrate on emerging philanthropic markets in advancement, minority buying power, philanthropic behaviors, diverse engagement and donor expectations. It will also feature a programmatic track on management, leadership and mentoring of advancement professionals of diverse backgrounds.