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Capability Company

A Message from our President

Dear Colleague,

As a professional and volunteer serving nonprofit organizations, I am familiar with staffing and leadership issues faced by our sector. Many clients and colleagues ask me what an organization should do when the executive director resigns - hire an interim ED and take extra time to find the permanent replacement, or immediately search for the final candidate. In fact, the question arises so frequently, it makes sense to share my thoughts with our readers in this month's article. Knowing every organization is unique, and facing specific challenges in their own environment, my comments are points for you to consider, not one-size-fits-all solutions.

I'd also like to share with you the news of our most recent search with the North Carolina Symphony. Please take a moment to read about the VP of Audience Development as well as our other searches below.

Finally, as always, I hope you find our event calendar useful as you plan out the rest of your summer schedule.

My best to you and yours,

Sherry Heuser

Sherry Heuser's profile on LinkedIn

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Article of the Month

Word count: 348
Approximate Reading Time: Less than 5 Minutes

Succession planning: To interim, or not to interim?

by Sherry Heuser

You are a Board member for a nonprofit services agency. The Executive Director has just announced her resignation. The Board is divided over next steps. Now what -- do you hire an external person to serve as interim Executive Director, or immediately search for a full-time replacement? Both options are worth considering, depending on the situation.

Hiring an interim could help when:

  • You did not have a succession plan in place
  • Your staff is too small to cover the responsibilities of the vacant role
  • You are unsure of your strategic direction for the near future
  • You did not have enough notice from the departing staff member to plan adequately
  • You want to take advantage of the vacancy to reorganize the staff
  • You need to address internal conflict before bringing in a new leader
  • You need emotional distance between the outgoing ED and their successor
  • You are already restructuring and may not need to fill the existing role long-term

Hiring an interim might not be necessary when:

  • You have a succession plan that manages for this vacancy
  • You have senior staff who can take on additional responsibilities during the transition
  • Your staff and Board prefer not to undergo two leadership changes in a short time
  • Your Board is willing and able to begin a search
  • You have time to fully develop a transition plan with existing resources
  • You are beginning a campaign and need a short transition period with limited distractions
  • You need a permanent replacement quickly to regain public trust
  • You have resources to help you manage the process

"Saving" the lapsed salary should not be planned as a benefit of the vacancy. The lost productivity and efficiency of the staff, lost revenue from stalled fundraising initiatives, and lost momentum in the community outweigh the short-term gains you may have realized.

Whichever direction you go, remember that your ultimate goal is to have the best person in place to serve as your administrative leader, chief of staff, primary community representative, and number-one advocate.

The Bottom Line:   Like judging a book by its cover, you can't always judge a recruit's fit by his or her resume - the answers to these four points clue you in to the likeability factor, perhaps the most important quality a gift officer possesses.

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Event Calendar

Visit the current calendar of events on our website.


In This Issue

Article of the Month
The Bottom Line
Event Calendar


A Client's Perspective

We are very excited at the outcome of our search process. The Board is extremely delighted that [the candidate], with her breadth of capabilities and passion for the mission, has accepted our invitation. [We] appreciate your efforts on our behalf."

Bruce Bendix
Home of the Sparrow


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