Groundbreaking Report Outlines Challenges and Opportunities for Professional Interim Executives Leading Nonprofit Organizations, According to Third Sector Company

First-of-its-kind study points to challenges associated with defining positions, accessing professional development opportunities, and self-care for temporary nonprofit CEOs

SEATTLE, Nov. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — More and more nonprofits around the country are tapping into the power of interim executives as change agents uniquely qualified to prepare their causes for the next chapter of community service under new leadership.

The concept of bringing in an interim executive during times of organizational stress, planned and unplanned transitions, and increasingly complex community issues is gaining in popularity. Simultaneously, the number of professionals offering a skill set focused on transitional management methods is also growing, maturing, and achieving momentum.

Earlier this year, nearly 100 nonprofit interim executives from across the United States and Canada convened for an inaugural National Interim Leadership Summit. The three-day event brought together transitional leaders who contributed to publishing the first-of-its-kind “The State of the Interim Profession in the Nonprofit Sector” report.

Reflective of today’s nonprofit workplace, interim executives report they are navigating unhappy work environments impacted by generations of pay inequity, generational shifts in board and staff leadership, uneven approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, and a rapidly changing revenue scene in a post-COVID environment. The state of nonprofit boards and their practices are of particular importance to interim leaders as indicators of their readiness to work with and support a new nonprofit leader successfully.

For the professionals, the inaugural report overwhelmingly outlines the common challenges across North America for accessing interim positions, the huge variety of perceptions that nonprofits have about the work of professional interim leaders, access to professional development opportunities to advance their careers, and paying attention to their own personal wellness while working in highly stressful work environments experiencing change.

The first-ever National Interim Leadership Summit was organized by Third Sector Company, a national pioneer in the advancement of strategic interim solutions for community impact organizations, which has more than 400 nonprofit interims through its Interim Executives Academy and has served more than 900 organizations since its founding in 2002.

“Now more than ever, the nonprofit sector is understanding the high price that a lack of leadership succession planning can have on people, organizations, and communities,” said Third Sector Company CEO and founder Jeffrey Wilcox. “In community organizations, the role of interim leadership is finally receiving its due recognition as a core strategy of succession planning. This is important to help steward an organization’s recalibration process before it jumps too quickly into a next iteration of mission delivery.”

The “State of the Profession” report resulted in seven high-level themes to continue advancing the transitional leadership profession:

  1. PUBLIC AWARENESS Promote the value and outcomes of strategic interim leadership.
  2. CONTINUING EDUCATION Advance learning experiences and credentialing.
  3. INTERIM MANAGEMENT MODELS & METHODS Publish models and methodologies that depict the intentionality of transitional leadership as an exact management science.
  4. EVOLVE NONPROFIT BOARDS Enhance the abilities of volunteer-led boards to govern in a new era and under a next generation of nonprofit leaders.
  5. SUCCESSION PLANNING ADVOCACY Partner with influencers of community organizations such as funders, associations, consultants, and search firms to emphasize the value of thoughtful succession planning.
  6. ADVANCING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Position the interim executive as a critical intervention for the advancement of diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice in nonprofit organizations.
  7. ELIMATE BARRIERS TO ENTRY Advance the interim executive profession as a viable specialized career option vital to the advancement of nonprofits and the entire sector.

Reflecting on the recommendations generated from the field, Wilcox said, “The interim executive profession has matured to a point where standards and methods are evolving that elevate the quality of transitional leaders in the nonprofit sector. This report gives voice to a community of professionals who have chosen to advance a well-defined and focused profession.”

Third Sector Company anticipates that “The State of the Interim Profession in the Nonprofit Sector” will be updated annually as a result of town halls conducted throughout the year and at an annual Summit.

Those interested in learning more about the principles of interim executive management taught by Third Sector Company are encouraged to participate in the complimentary Introduction to Interim Executives Academy held virtually on Dec. 15, 2023. Find more information at:

Third Sector Company, SPC (A Social Purpose Corporation) is a nationally recognized pioneer in leadership continuity solutions for community impact organizations including charitable causes, professional associations, and congregations. Leadership continuity solutions include interim chief executive and chief development officers, succession planning, executive search, and professional development, including learning academies for interim executives, board members, and association leaders. Based in Seattle and founded in 2002, Third Sector Company serves clients throughout the United States. Third Sector Company is committed to advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Learn more at

Cynthia Flash

SOURCE Third Sector Company, SPC