Areas of Work

Our areas of work include Executive Search & Transitions; Strategic Leader Development; Succession Planning; Board Development; Business Planning; and Organizational & Leadership Coaching.

Executive Leadership: Recruitment, Development, and Succession

Leadership excellence and continuity are essential to sustaining a nonprofit’s ability to achieve its community mission. The leadership cycle starts with recruiting an executive with the experience and skills to pursue your strategic vision. It then moves to developing your talent pipeline so that there are staff members prepared to step into leadership positions when departures occur, planned and unplanned. The third stop in the cycle is succession planning, a set of activities that ensure no loss of momentum at the point of transition from a current leader to his or her successor.

Executive Search & Transition Services

Nothing is be more critical to a nonprofit's future than finding the right chief executive. Yet recruiting and screening candidates can take more time and skill than most nonprofit boards can provide for themselves. CompassPoint’s staff, as leading authorities in the field of nonprofit leadership, can assist a nonprofit in transition with a broad array of affordable services. Our search consultants provide critical support at prices much lower than those charged by traditional search firms.

A successful recruitment effort begins with clarifying the leadership skills and attributes your nonprofit needs for its future success. To develop that skills profile, we begin with a brief strategic review to give you the sharpest picture possible of what you need in your next executive. Having recruited executives for over 300 community agencies, we know how to find you a strong and diverse pool of qualified candidates. We offer proven tools for screening applications, conducting interviews, and streamlining negotiations. We complete the process by helping you set up your new executive for success with specific performance goals and connection to any support needed to pursue them.

Based on lessons learned in leading CompassPoint’s executive transition program for over a decade, CompassPoint consultant, Tim Wolfred, authored a 2009 book on executive recruitment, Managing Executive Transitions: A Guide for Nonprofits. Read more information on the book.

Strategic Leader Development

Strategic leader development assures the ongoing success and sustainability of an organization’s programs and community impact by aligning staff recruitment, development, and retention plans with its strategic vision and goals. Experience has shown that organizations that engage in ongoing talent development for their key positions are better prepared to navigate leadership transitions smoothly when they occur. CompassPoint offers assistance in:

  • Defining a strategic vision and identifying the leadership and management skills needed on a management team to carry out that vision and meet future challenges.
  • Creating professional development plans to fill any skill gaps on the management team.
  • Strengthening the management team’s ability to act as a cohesive body.
  • Assisting managers in creating plans to develop leadership skills and potential successors among their supervisees.
  • Developing formal emergency succession plans for management positions and cross-training plans for the designated emergency backups.

    learn more about our succession planning tools and the monograph, Building Leaderful Organizations: Succession Planning for Nonprofits.

Succession Planning with Long-Tenured Executives

Nonprofits that proactively prepare for a leadership transition, especially for long tenured or founding executives, pave the way for new leadership to step in and succeed. CompassPoint offers assistance to executives and their organizations in the following ways:

  • Assisting the executive in designing his/her departure path, in working through the sometimes difficult “letting go” issues, and in knowing when and how to communicate his or her plans to leave.
  • Conducting a “sustainability audit” that will identify the organizational vulnerabilities that must be addressed before the executive leaves so that the ongoing success of the organization beyond the current executive’s tenure is assured.
  • Crafting a Succession Plan that includes action steps to correct the vulnerabilities, succession to-do lists and timelines for the executive and the board, and the board’s plan for how it will conduct the search for executive candidates.

Board Development

Nonprofit organizations (staff and board members) are frequently frustrated with the performance—however defined—of their boards of directors. Curiously, board members are rarely incapable, uncaring, or unskilled people. On the contrary, they are usually comprised of talented, expert, passionate, and dedicated individuals. But when this collection of people is brought together to act as a body on behalf of the organization, there is something inherent in the structure and defined purpose that frequently renders boards lesser than the sum of their parts. To avoid this lesser than the sum of their parts pitfall, organizations need to redefine board expectations, practices, and strategies so that they are in synch with organizational priorities, but also embrace shared leadership and asset-based practices. CompassPoint’s board development consulting can help you do just that.

CompassPoint believes that the board is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Therefore, the work of the board should be focused on organizational priorities related to its desired impact. From clarity of purpose comes an appropriate governance model designed to reach an organization’s unique impact. Too often a board first asks, “What committees should we have? Who should we recruit? How big should we be? How should we structure our meetings?” Without first asking, “What kind of a board do we need so that we can better achieve our mission impact? How can we develop board leadership to connect us to our constituents and support the work of our staff? What is the right structure for us given what we need to do now and given were we want to go?”

CompassPoint Board Development consulting offers assistance in:

  • Board training on roles and responsibilities
  • Board self-assessment and summary of results
  • Identification of high-level organizational priorities and an action plan to implement priorities
  • Clarity on the role of the Board in relationship to implementing an action plan
  • Recommendations for adjustment to the Board’s committee, task force, and meeting structures in order to successfully implement the action plan.

Learn about our Board Development workshops.

Strategic & Business Planning

Today’s nonprofit leaders are deeply challenged by an array of complex, changing, and urgent pressures that demand faster and smarter decisions than ever before. Success cannot be driven or measured by long-term, detailed plans. Instead, nonprofits sail in stormy seas where changing conditions mean a new route must be plotted every day. Nonprofit leaders are called upon to position their organizations to continuously think and act strategically. For nonprofits, financial sustainability and programmatic sustainability cannot be separated. CompassPoint strategy experts can guide staff and board members to understand financial and programmatic sustainability and provide tools to make and monitor organizational decisions.

Based on our recently published book, Nonprofit Sustainability, Making Decisions for Financial Viability, CompassPoint’s strategy consulting offers assistance to:

  • Articulate to staff and board of your organization’s current business model and how each of its core activities is defined and resourced.
  • Identify and analyze key proposed programmatic directions to understand the potential costs and resource opportunities of each.
  • Develop a set of recommendations to the organization of which, if any, of the strategies to pursue based on the above described analysis.

    Learn more about our Strategy Training and Clinics

Organizational & Leadership Coaching

What promise does coaching offer to nonprofit leaders? What impact can coaching have upon developing and sustaining effective leaders within their organizations and the nonprofit sector? How does coaching support nonprofit organizational development? These are some of the questions that have driven the work of CompassPoint and its many partners over the past several years. CompassPoint is proud to contribute to the growing body of work on this emerging practice in the field and is grateful to the many funders, coaches, and sector leaders who have influenced our work.

Learn more about our Coaching services

To Become a Client

To inquire about CompassPoint consulting or coaching services for your organization, contact Adriana Rocha at 415.318.3740 or Consulting@compasspoint.org.

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Contact us at info@compasspoint.org.