Systems Thinking: Encouraging Mergers

edited August 2020 in Resilient Philanthropy

Today during our webinar on Agile Philanthropy we discussed the idea of Systems Thinking. During this conversation the following conversation was posed. I am curious how other funders are thinking of this of this idea.


"In considering systems thinking, especially during the COVID crisis, would it be worthwhile for grantmakers to consider funding that encourages mergers of nonprofits that alone might not survive the crisis, but together could not just survive but thrive while also helping to undo duplication of services in communities? I realize this is a really existential question, but now is the time for many agencies to rethink their reason for being within the nonprofit community they are a part of."

Tagged:
KaraAdamsMeghanWarrickKristinLairdKellieutzinger

Comments

  • Hey all!

    At my former Community Foundation, there was a small percent of discretionary funds that encouraged nonprofit mergers and allowed for funds for a consultant to help think through how two organizations can come together (working through a shared vision, mission statement, organizational structure, etc.) as well as dollars for legal fees, software transitions, and other operational dollars that can be a barrier for nonprofits who consider merging. Just wanted to throw that out there for things to think about if your foundation is considering this!

    Best,

    E.C. Pollick Byrnes

    Foundant Technologies

    MeghanWarrickKristinLairdelizabethmesserli
  • We offer annual Collaboration Grants where two or more nonprofits are working on a program together to address a specific issue. One such grant catalyzed a very successful merger where two organizations were serving the same population. Each organization's weaker areas were the other's strengths. Moving in to share the same office space to reduce overhead costs eventually led to merging services and full integration of the two organizations into a single stronger, more efficient nonprofit. Based on that success, we will most likely use those grant funds in the coming year to assist with organizations who may be looking at closing their doors and more willing to worry less about protecting "turf" and consider working with another nonprofit to merge. However, "merge" can often have a negative connotation, so we will be focusing more on concepts such as "mission preservation" and "strategic realignment." As @MeghanWarrick mentioned, our Foundations can serve as neutral facilitators where we have built trusting relationships with our nonprofits and can be seen as a safe place for counsel, advice, encouragement.

    KaraAdamsKristinLairdelizabethmesserli
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