“Now what?” : understanding the organizational exit experience of nonprofit board members.

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Organizational exit is an inevitable phenomenon that organization members experience. However, extant research disproportionately focuses on the onboarding process, which overshadows the exit process. Understanding exit is consequential since individuals enter new organizations with their previous experiences to guide them. Knowledge about organizational exit is vital for nonprofit board development since a detrimental board exit can cause significant loss (e.g., donation, community network) for the nonprofit. Consequently, this study examined how nonprofit board members made sense of their exit from the board. Models of planned organizational exit and sensemaking were used as guiding theoretical frameworks. This study used one-on-one, semi-structured interviews to gain insight into the board experience. Analysis revealed that three temporally related themes emerged: unceremonious exit, diverging paths after board service, and continuing service elsewhere. These findings contribute to the scholarly literature by extending organizational exit models and illuminating the identity work that exited board members experience.

Organizational exit. Exit. Nonprofit. Board members. Board of directors. Planned exit. Unceremonious exit.