Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When people say “More Nonprofits Should Merge”, what do they really mean?

First in a series on Nonprofit Restructuring

It seems that the pressure is on from all directions for nonprofits to “merge”. Foundations are talking about it, business leaders are talking about it, economic circumstances are predicted to necessitate it.

We opened our Human Service breakout session at the March 16 Nonprofit Town Hall in Indy with the question: “What are the positive outcomes people are looking for when they say we need more collaborations and mergers?” I asked that question because I see too many people getting caught up in the means and forgetting the ends. By that, I am not saying collaborations and mergers are bad, but they are possible strategies toward accomplishment of some desirable outcome, not the outcome itself.

Some thoughts from our group on what we mean when we say “we need more collaborations and mergers” included:


Organizations with shared goals and plans

Provision of multiple services at neighborhood sites

Referrals/trust between providers

Shared programs

Variety in service options

Effective use of resources (people, dollars, volunteers, etc.)

Increased reach and impact

Creative solutions


Organizations pursuing funding from area foundations

Duplications in the provision of services

I suggest that our conversations be focused on how we can best accomplish the above and consider all of the alternative ways to get there. Hope you’ll add to the conversation on our Blog.

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