For-Purpose: How Interim NFP CEOs can deliver sustainability through times of change - Future Leadership

For-Purpose: How Interim NFP CEOs can deliver sustainability through times of change

Does your NFP organisation need an interim CEO?

Australia’s not-for-profit sector is dynamic with organisations often facing unique challenges that demand effective and immediate leadership. Interim leadership solutions can help.

The Australian Government’s latest white paper on jobs and opportunities has flagged that our economy will be shaped by five forces in the coming decades – the aging population, rising demand for quality care and support services, expanded use of digital and advanced technologies, climate change catalysing net zero transformation, as well as geopolitical risk and fragmentation. These forces will not only change the composition of our industries and workforce needs but the nature of work itself.

This will have major ramifications across the For Purpose sector which currently accounts for 10.5% of all Australian Employees (2023 Australian Charities Report,  Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission). Amidst compounding resource scarcity, declining donations, and rising cybersecurity concerns, we have seen high skills growth in the For Purpose sector across Operations (+160%), Law (+41%), Non-Executive Directorship (+42%) and Strategic Thinking (+34%)*. Yet alarmingly, the 2023 Australian Nonprofits State of the Sector report highlighted huge gaps in cybersecurity skills, with 80% reporting no recent cybersecurity training and 85% with no budget for cybersecurity solutions. 

Future Leadership’s Gig Executive practice has seen an increasing interest in appointing an Interim CEO across the sector. Reasons vary from organisation to organisation, but Boards are telling us these experienced, values-aligned leaders bring a wealth of expertise and a fresh perspective, offering numerous advantages to the sector during times of change. We’re delighted to share our reflections with the sector we’ve served for over two decades and welcome your views and thoughts.  

Interim Expertise and Experience 

For Purpose Interim CEOs typically have extensive experience in the sector or aligned sectors. They have a proven track record in leadership roles and when appointed, bring a wealth of expertise, offering valuable insights and strategies that have been honed through that experience. When navigating complex regulatory frameworks, fundraising challenges, and stakeholder management, they bring a calm and seasoned approach to what is often a difficult situation.  

Efficiency and Rapid Impact 

Interim CEOs are able to quickly assess an organisation’s needs, work with Boards, and can implement necessary changes at pace. Their ability to swiftly understand the unique challenges faced by not-for-profits enables them to devise and implement targeted remediation strategies. This efficiency ensures that organizations can adapt swiftly to market demands, donor expectations, and societal changes, making the most of every opportunity. 

Objective Decision-Making 

Being external to the organization, interim CEOs bring an objective perspective to the Board and Executive table. Unencumbered by internal politics or biases, they can make often tough decisions that might be challenging for a permanent leader. This objectivity can be crucial in challenging structures, improving processes, and ensuring that the organisation’s mission remains at the forefront of all decisions. 

Smooth Leadership Transitions 

Interim CEOs play a pivotal role during leadership transitions. They provide stability, ensuring vital projects and initiatives continue without pause or disruption. Given they’ve overseen significant change, they can facilitate a smooth transition for permanent leadership, minimizing the impact on employees, key donors, and beneficiaries. 


In the ever-evolving landscape of the Australian not-for-profit sector, interim CEOs have emerged as invaluable assets. Their expertise, efficiency, objectivity, and change skills make them powerful catalysts for positive change within organisations. By harnessing the benefits of interim leadership, not-for-profit organisations in Australia can navigate challenges effectively, achieve their objectives efficiently, and create a lasting impact on the communities they serve.

How is your organisation preparing for the future?

Let us help you bring the right mix of capabilities to your board and leadership tables. Utilising our Future Leadership Capability Framework we can support you to have the right conversations about talent. Please reach out to our dedicated For Purpose team for a discovery call.

Managing Partner, Gig Executive

Our Gig Executive team lends experienced senior leaders to organisations to help them keep up with the pace of change.

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The Gig Executive team specialise in understanding and solving your unique challenges within 72 hours. With 20 years of experience placing high-profile executives into high-profile roles, we have deep relationships with executives choosing to work differently.

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