Lack of succession planning in NGOs

The Bridgespan Group surveyed approximately 250 leaders from Indian NGOs and the Indian offices of international NGOs, to look into NGOs’ efforts to strengthen their leaders’ skill sets and build their leadership bench

Pritha Venkatachalam is a partner with The Bridgespan Group in Mumbai and co-author of the report, Building the Bench at Indian NGOs. Danielle Berfond is a Bridgespan Group manager and co-author of the same report

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Exceptional NGOs rely on exceptional leaders. In the Indian social sector, a senior team’s competence is often the make-or-break factor in an organisation’s ability to make strides toward such ambitious goals as providing equitable healthcare, ensuring high quality education for children, or providing access to safe water and basic sanitation. Yet widespread doubts persist about whether there is sufficient investment in NGO leadership teams to achieve these important outcomes.

Against this backdrop, The Bridgespan Group, with support from Omidyar Network, undertook what we believe is the first data-driven study of NGO leadership development in India: “Building the Bench at India NGOs: Investing to Fill the Leadership Development Gap.”

Surveying approximately 250 leaders from Indian NGOs and the Indian offices of international NGOs, the study looked into NGOs’ efforts to strengthen their leaders’ skill sets and build their leadership bench. This is the sixth in a series of key findings:

The absence of succession planning
Most NGOs do not have succession plans in place, even for their senior leader.

chart7

Only about 40 percent of NGO leaders say they are capable of effectively replacing their senior leaders; 25 percent say they struggle. Part of this is due to limited investment in identifying and developing people with the potential and talent of stepping into those roles.

Despite succession plans’ proven ability to smooth leadership transitions, half of survey respondents concede that they have no such plans for any of their senior leaders, In fact, more than 70 percent of NGOs lack a succession plan for even their senior-most leader.

This is the seventh chart of a 10-part series from The Bridgespan Group. Read the introductory post here. Watch this space for a new chart of their survey findings every Friday. Click here to view the first six chart of the series

Pritha Venkatachalam is a partner with The Bridgespan Group in Mumbai and co-author of the report, 'Building the Bench at Indian NGOs'. Danielle Berfond is a Bridgespan Group manager and co-author of the same report.

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