The Case of the Graybeard’s Replacement

This is the Sam Sector III (get it, third sector) saga. If you check on a regular basis you can follow the escapades of Sam “the greatest and only nonprofit detective in the world” as he answers the questions facing today’s nonprofit leaders. Each installment will take only a couple of minutes to read, will provide you with some information, and will end in a bit of a cliff-hanger so that you will return in about 7-10 days to find out what happened. This of course is fun for me, and a different way to get information out to all of you who have an interest.


← Read the fifth installment

Rosa, Guido’s daughter and only waitress brought over a glass of the house red, a nice Chianti to encourage Sam’s appetite along with a small dish of pickled octopus, squid, and anchovy. Guido seated Sam at his usual table in the back by the kitchen – Sam wanted to get all the smells as he worked through his presentation for Gracie the next morning. Sam spread out his note cards and readied his Parker fountain pen. He planned on having his thoughts organized by the time the cannoli and espresso arrived.

The next morning, he would need to ask questions at the start of the meeting to get Gracie to state the problems herself – this would bring the messages home to her in the strongest, clearest way. She would understand that it was time for her to leave the organization. Then he would introduce some of the theory of nonprofit life stages to help her see that this situation is not unique to her or the organization.

Click here for Sam's complete organization life stages chart.

As Sam worked his way through a bowl of escarole salad with lemon and olive oil, he shaped his plan to get Gracie to meet with her Board to discuss transition:

  • First, they need to appoint a selection committee to spearhead recruitment efforts for the new ED (this might be the Executive Committee, or a committee comprised of current and future leaders of the Board).
  • Then, the Board with advice from Gracie needs to decide whether or not to hire an interim director to set the stage for hiring the next ED (this might depend on whether or not the Board wants to spend time fleshing out the next chapter for the organization before hiring the person who will make it happen, or if there is some unfinished business that the Board and Gracie would rather an interim director address before the new leader comes on board, and, of course, how soon Gracie will leave once a decision is made).
  • Finally, if the Board decides not to hire an interim director, they will want to have a planning session with Gracie to frame the strategic direction (this will include reviewing and agreeing to the mission statement, deciding on a vision or broad strategic objectives for the next 3-5 years, and considering the skills needed by the new staff leader to achieve this).

Rosa brought over a platter of eel stew with polenta and a glass of Pinot Grigio with a leek and onion side dish. “What’cha doin’ Sam? Workin’ a big case through over dinner?”

“Yeh, Rosa, I think I got it figured out – just layin’ out the recruitment plan for hirin’ a new director - how’s the world treatin’ you?” Sam took a sip of the white wine.

“I’m still tryin’ to get Vinnie to settle down some, but you know him and his cars. I swear he loves his Vette more than me – still no wedding date.” Rosa removed the salad bowl, and a memory crossed her brow. “Oh, yeh, Sam, your cute friend Johnnie was lookin’ for you earlier today, he said he had a lead on a new case for ya, I told him you often came in on Monday nights for the stew. He said he might stop by around nine-ish.”

Sam dug into the eel stew and reviewed the recruitment plan that Stella had typed for him on the ancient Mac.

Click for a look at Sam's plan.

Sam put the finishing touches on his note cards by listing out some of the recruitment techniques that Johnnie had discussed with him. To reach the next generation of leaders, he would need to access their social networks. Not much difference from the old way of recruiting – just different networks and different tools.

  1. Websites
       Council of Nonprofits
       Council on Foundations
  2. Newspapers
       Major Papers
       Neighborhood Papers
       Ethnic Community Papers
  3. Technology

Sam was really feeling good about his approach for his meeting with Gracie in the morning. He felt prepared and ready to help her move on to the next stage of her life, while assisting the Board in advancing the organization with the addition of new leadership.

As he sat sipping his espresso and crunching on cannoli, Sam realized he had put another case to bed, and as always had learned in the process of resolution.

“There you are!” Accused Johnnie. “I’ve been looking all over for you! There’s trouble over in St. Paul – the Social Service, Inc. Board is falling apart. Problems recruiting and maintaining a strong Board, as well as relations with the staff - they need you Sam. Tomorrow at noon they want you to meet with them to see if anything can be done.” Johnnie made himself at home, took a bite out of Sam’s second cannoli and proceeded to introduce Sam to the details of his next adventure – The Case of the Shaky Board.

If you have ideas that can help Sam as he works on his current case, or if you have "cases" that you would like to see Sam take on, please email me.