Often a staff transition means losing that person’s institutional knowledge of documents, processes, and decision making. From our years of experience stepping into organizations as interim contractors, we see several key areas that can mitigate the turmoil of a turnover, improve internal efficiency, and streamline communication. Prioritize the following areas for up-to-date documentation that is readily accessible to the full team or at least to more than one staff member:
Reports – For data reports or filters/queries that supported an appeal or event or board meeting, document how or why final decisions were made and the names of any final reports or filters. Be sure that the final criteria or lists are available in a secure shared location. This applies to financial and program reports to funders or other stakeholders, too.
Examples: For your end-of-year appeal, what criteria determined who received each type of message? Is there a segment of donors or prospects who should not get mass appeals? Do you know when your next foundation report is due?
Stakeholder Contact Lists – During a significant staff transition, it is particularly important to communicate with your stakeholders in a timely fashion to ensure continuity of financial support and share any related impacts on events, programs, or services.
Examples: Where is the directory of your current board members? Is there a list of donors who should hear directly from you about significant leadership changes? If volunteers will be impacted, do you know how to get in touch with them?
Vendor Contact Lists – Keep your vendor contact lists up to date and save in a shared spot with a primary and secondary point person for each vendor listed. This list should include everything from internet access and HVAC maintenance vendors to the rental company that provides the special linens for the gala.
Examples: Who holds the literal keys to your website domain registration and maintenance? A single point person is typically assigned to interact with a vendor about ongoing IT problems or website issues, but there should be more than one person with the knowledge of who to contact to fix the website or set up a new email address (or forward a previous staff member’s email address).
Project Specs and Timelines – Before moving on to the next big appeal or event, review unanticipated circumstances that arose or other changes that impacted the original plan. Invite feedback from other staff or volunteers who were involved. Document these changes and recommendations, and then be sure that document is in an accessible spot for others, especially future you.
Examples: Did you get feedback about a fundraising effort? Do you need to allow more time for feedback on things like messaging, invitation decisions, and/or venue selection?
Document what is necessary and important about how your organization operates internally, communicates externally, and tracks information securely. Provide access to staff members who may rely on this information in the future or might need to take on new responsibilities during a transition. Future you and anyone who follows in your footsteps will thank you!