November 2019
Mid-April 2020
Bryan Orander, President, Charitable Advisors
What if a key staff member is
unavailable due to coronavirus?
Every day we hear of more people being diagnosed with coronavirus and most of us probably have someone within our circles who has been impacted. The current circumstances are tragic and made more difficult by the lack of understanding about how long it will last and its long-term effect.

Something we CAN do is prepare for the potential loss of a key employee’s services, even for a short period of time, if they or someone close to them is diagnosed they are not able to perform their job for a few weeks or longer.

Contingency planning doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated, but usually involves a conversation that can be uncomfortable. In order to be prepared to cover someone’s absence, you need a clear grasp of what they do, who they work with, and the tools (and passwords) they use to do their job. An added complication right now is that many people are working remotely, so office-based procedures are being modified “on the fly” for remote-work operations. 

A few key concepts:
  • Have at least two people be familiar with each key function/program/project and relationship of the organization
  • Make it safe and expected to overshare information and keep the team informed
  • Loop board leadership into your contingency planning and provide them with a copy of key information as a back up

Tools to capture key information and frame cross training knowledge:

  • Staff Contingency Planning: Ask each of your key team members to take 30-45 minutes to complete the attached form and then plan a discussion to walk through it and identify what other information should be added. Include the individual’s direct supervisor in the conversation. Make sure you have a way to capture key passwords and security information. Some organizations attach this form to the job description and update it at the annual review.

  • Emergency Succession Plan: While most commonly used for the ED/CEO, there are likely other key staff you should prepare to be without for a period of time, if needed. We suggest using this form in a conversation with the ED/CEO and executive committee. In addition to capturing security information, key contacts, and passwords, also identify the names of a few experienced nonprofit leaders on the board who could be potential interims to bridge a gap.  

Charitable Advisors is happy to facilitate a virtual contingency/succession planning conversation with the Executive Committee and ED/CEO of your organization. For additional information, contact Bryan Orander at: [email protected] or 317-752-7153.

Bryan Orander, President                    

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