Friday, July 8, 2011

What and Who You Love - Emergency Succession Planning

Via Hubcap at

I've been spending the last couple of weeks in reflection since my nephew was killed in an accident. This is my habit when someone close to me dies; to think about what they meant to me and how they affected my life - to recognize their contributions and express gratitude and to learn what I can from what has happened.

In some ways, losing someone in an unexpected way is more horrific than having to let go of them slowly. Regardless of when or how it happens, you can never really be prepared for it. I was just as shocked by my father's death from cancer as from my nephew's death from a freeway accident, even though I knew my father's condition was terminal. But at least with an illness you may have a small window of opportunity to prepare, to take care of some things ahead of time. With a sudden death, you don't even have that.

Everyone is a Hostage to Fate

My point is that, despite all your planning for the future, your destiny is not assured. I doubt that my 29 year old nephew had a will or a large enough insurance policy to cover his wife and children, though he may have - he was a rather forward looking and dependable man. This post is not about urging you to do those things. Your decisions regarding your private life and family are your business alone. But if you haven't thought about how your small nonprofit would fare should something happen to you or a key member of your small staff, you ought to.

Lives may stop for a while, but the mission your small nonprofit was created to serve, will go on. And staffers, board and constituents will all be able to do so more confidently and easily if a sudden loss of a key person has been planned for.

  • How will people be notified?
  • Who will succeed in the role, at least temporarily and how will duties be parceled out in the meantime?
  • What areas will be most affected and how?
  • If the person lost was driving strategy, is there someone else who knows his/her plans or where to find them?

I'm sure there are other questions that will occur to you once you start thinking about this in relation to your own nonprofit, including what information you consider vital to be passed on should the lost person turn out to be you.

This is where I add the obligatory insurance/mortuary business line about how we all hope such preparations won't be needed, but for the sake of your loved ones' peace of mind... only in this case, it's your nonprofit. It's important to you - you've devoted a lot of love and energy to it. And don't think that the brain fog won't happen if the sudden loss is someone else or someone close to someone else, either. People who work closely together develop a symbiosis - what affects one will affect the others. Do them and your small nonprofit the favor of planning ahead of an emergency and review your plans on a regular basis. If you do, you can continue to help them even if you're no longer there.

Tool of the Week: Google+ and GoDropBox

You'd have to be under a rock in the social media world to not know that Google has rolled out Google+. So far, I like it but how useful it really is remains to be seen. Early days yet, for sure. Still, if you're wondering about it and how the roll out may affect your small nonprofit, check out this post by Amy at NTEN as she looks at the privacy context of Google+ and which of the new SM platform's features might be useful to nonprofits.

GoDropBox may be useful to you if you're already working from the Google Docs cloud and find you sometimes need to review large files in concert with a small group of other people. Check it out here.

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