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What Organizations Need To Know About Leadership Transition

The words good bye and a smiley face written in white on a blue backgroundEffectively passing the baton to new leaders within an organization can be easy for some, but many others find it difficult to train those that will carry out the work of their beloved group. Organizations face the challenges of ensuring important factors such as annual tax filing deadlines, accurate recordkeeping, and maintaining tax-exempt status don’t fall behind during each transition of leadership.

If you’re striving to leave your organization in good standing and to provide incoming leaders with everything they need to ensure a smooth transition, this post will give you a checklist that many successful organizations follow.

Here are my expert tips on what organizations need to know about leadership transition in order to keep working toward their purpose with solid management and direction.

Leadership Transition Checklist

1. Be Organized

The key to any successful transition of leadership is organization. The following items on this checklist will lay the groundwork for a new leader, so having these things organized prior to new leaders beginning their terms means the focus can remain on expected duties.  

2. Create a Leadership Transition Binder

Transition binders are an ideal gift for incoming leaders and provide necessary documentation for success in their new roles. Documentation should be concise, detailed, and categorized in a logical way, as the new leader will frequently reference the binder throughout their tenure.

Your leadership transition binder should contain items such as the organization’s bylaws, training guide, calendar of events, and specific documents related to the leader’s position. 

The exact documents you should include depends on your organization’s needs and the role of the new leader. For example, a leadership transition binder for a newly appointed treasurer should include:

  • Previous financial records

  • State tax forms/information

  • Annual tax filing requirements

  • Organization EIN/Tax ID #

  • Bank account information

  • Pending significant financial transactions

  • Fundraising information

3. Discuss the Organization’s Policies & Procedures

Keeping the line of communication open with new leaders plays a significant role in successful transitions of leadership. Take a moment to discuss the policies and procedures with new leaders to ensure they understand the functionality of your organization.

4. Review Leadership Duties

Review leadership duties in detail and never assume that new leaders understand the various aspects of their positions. Clearly explain what the leader is and is not responsible for. The clearer a leader is about their position, the more effective they will be.

5. Set Realistic Goals

Set up a meeting to share standard goals with new leaders, being realistic about what they can achieve during their tenures and setting a timeline for completion. Be sure to incorporate new goals that a leader would like to reach, and to share any insights your organization has gained that may be helpful to them.

6. Share Key External Relationships

If the role requires working relationships with contacts outside the organization, the new leader should be provided with a contact sheet with information such as name, title, email address, and phone number for each individual. If possible, personally introduce the new leader to any key contacts to ensure a smooth transition. 

Tip: Create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to keep track of this contact information, so it’s easy to update it and pass it on to future leaders. 

With these useful tools and tips, your leadership team should be on the road to success as they continue to carry out the important work your organization does each day. Be sure to maintain IRS compliance by annually filing 990 Forms and continue to grow your organization with the resources provided by Wild Apricot. 


For many nonprofits, and particularly for newly elected leaders, handling important tax compliance needs can be daunting. U 3 Ways Organizations Maintain Their Tax-Exempt Status featuring my TaxBandits colleague, tax e-filing expert, and nonprofit industry leader Elena Dedman, hosted by Wild Apricot on March 26 at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to sign up.

Austin JeffersonAustin Jefferson is a content marketing manager for SPAN Enterprises, parent company to TaxBandits, a leader in software solutions and mobile applications specific to IRS tax e-filing.