Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Interim Executive Director Cost Savings Question

I love it when I get a good question in my email that results in a good blog post. This is one of those situations.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that one of the main things I do as a nonprofit consultant is serve organizations as an Interim Executive Director (IED).  When an organization is between leaders, and perhaps facing other problems, fiscal, strategic, or otherwise, they'll bring me in to run the agency for a limited term as kind of temporary CEO and on-site consultant.

Well, today I received a question from a colleague asking about hiring an IED. In part, the email asked:
... For an organization thinking of bringing in an interim executive before hiring a full-time executive, do you think there are any real cost savings to be had? My thinking is not really, it would be more to give time or focus to the organization and its next steps or to bring in a specific expertise to help move things forward? ...
My reply was:

The safest answer is to say that you're right, cost savings are not the reason to go with an interim; time to review, assess, plan, strategize, and hire the right person (or, more and more these days, merger) is.

If it's up to dollars and cents, you could really spin it either way, an IED costing more or less than a permanent ED. Let's say the organization's paying $70-85,000/year for a full-time ED [based on the type of organization the question related to]. An interim, depending on who they get and how they set their rates, might charge anywhere from $75-100/hour for their time.

On the surface, the Interim rate comes out much more than the permanent ED, but is the interim working 40 hours/week? I usually put in an average of 25-30 hours/week as an Interim. Also, the Interim's rate is the full cost. As an independent contractor, the organization is not paying the payroll taxes, health care costs, etc., associated with a "real" employee.

The bottom line is that the bottom line is not an argument for or against hiring an Interim. Getting things right is. And I'm available ;^)


  1. This is great information. I worked for a social work agency, where our ED helped some case workers with their difficult cases, offering advice, etc. And IED is not normally used to this capacity, but can handle the daily administrative tasks until that "right one" is found. I think an IED is perfect to handle the bureaucracy in the meantime.

  2. Thanks, timely as I am currently leading a search for interim head.