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NC Nonprofits Prepare for Baby Boomer Leaders' Retirement

Photo: NC nonprofits are planning for Baby Boomer retirement. Courtesy: NC Center for Nonprofits
Photo: NC nonprofits are planning for Baby Boomer retirement. Courtesy: NC Center for Nonprofits
September 10, 2013

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Now that the economy is improving and 401(k) plans are recovering, Baby Boomers are looking to retire - including those who work for the hundreds of nonprofit organizations in North Carolina. The issue is prompting a statewide initiative to help those organizations plan for changes in leadership.

Peter Laroche, president and CEO of Financial Pathways of the Piedmont, has no immediate plans to step down, but nonetheless he began working with his staff and board last year to make sure a plan was in place.

"Anything can happen, and the organization needs to have at least some vision of how they would transition," he said. "I want to see the mission continue to be fulfilled."

Recently, Financial Pathways did have to implement part of their "executive succession" plan when a key leader had to step down for medical reasons.

The N.C. Center for Nonprofits is offering help to organizations in the state so they can plan for changes in staff. According to CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, two-thirds of nonprofit executive directors plan to retire or leave in the next five years.

Vice president Trisha Lester of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits said many organizations that will be affected are filling the gaps where state and federal programs cannot act.

"Society is leaning more heavily on nonprofits, so it's all the more important that we have strong leadership in place and the ability for nonprofits to keep moving without missing a beat," she declared.

Lester also said that by offering to help nonprofits plan for things like retirement or medical emergencies, her group removes the burden of what can be a delicate conversation.

"It's also a little sensitive because if an executive director brings it up, the board thinks, 'Omigosh, she's leaving.' And then oftentimes if a board brings it up, the executive director/CEO may think, 'Oh my goodness, are they not pleased with my performance?'"

This issue and others will be discussed at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits statewide conference taking place in Concord September 19 and 20.

Details on the conference are at NCNonprofits.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC