Pros and Cons of an Interim Executive Director During a Nonprofit Executive Search

The board of directors face several questions after the departure of a non-profit Executive Director or a CEO. Some questions faced by the board are regarding the person that will succeed the previous executive employee and whether or not to bring in an Interim Executive Director.


Weighing in the pros and cons of opting for an Interim Executive Director can save the organization substantial time, effort and money.


Understanding the Pros of Having an Interim Executive Director

Bringing in an Interim Director can benefit your organization by:


1) Maintaining Operations While Searching for a New Director

An interim is most commonly utilized to manage a non-profit organization during the transition phase in which the former executive director leaves and a new director joins. Hiring an interim gives significant time to conduct a thorough search for a new leader without the need to rush. Short term acting directors are picked from existing staff based on experience, a board member or an executive from nonprofit executive search firms.


An interim will be able to supervise the operations of the not-for-profit organization to ensure existing problems are solved and the organization functions smoothly.



2) Allowing Emotional Space to the Staff 

The retirement or resignation of a longtime executive director can be a sensitive matter for many employees. It is especially true when the former director had a successful run where the employees saw their personal growth.


Hiring an Interim Executive Director can give the employees the needed emotional space to accept the change. It would allow a better reception towards the new executive director. The employees will truly accept the new director as their leader.


3) Addressing Organisational Issues

A skilled Interim director can offer valuable inputs to solve crucial issues in a non-profit organization. The Interim can work on a problematic staff or board of directors by making tough decisions such as terminating the underperforming employees or making certain board members leave.

In 6-8 months, the Interim can make the organization a place where the next permanent director is more likely to succeed. Essentially, making the organization free from problems that hampered the functioning of previous directors.


Considering the Cons of Hiring an Interim Executive Director

Interim directors can effectively fill in the role of the former director. However, looking for an interim comes with several cons:


1) High Expectations 

In a serious organization, the board of directors will expect the Interim Director to provide solutions for existing problems in the organization. These heightened expectations from a temporary job might demotivate candidates from joining.


2) Delay in Hiring the Permanent Executive Director

Hiring an interim is an extensive affair. There are many facets involved, such as hiring and training of the interim. It can potentially delay the recruitment of a permanent Executive Director.


3) Cost Involved in the Process

The cost of hiring an Interim Director varies accordingly. An interim hire from the existing employees might cost less than hiring an experienced executive from staffing agencies.


Final Words

An Interim Executive Director can play a crucial role under the right circumstances. Therefore, it is crucial to ascertain the needs of the organization before opting for an interim to fill the position of Executive Director.