Home > Uncategorized > Social Enterprise and Non-profit Mergers Part 1

Social Enterprise and Non-profit Mergers Part 1

There is an excellent article in this months Stanford Social Innovation Review on ‘merging wisely’ for the nonprofit sector. As we have mentioned here before, there will be increased pressure to merge in the wider non-profit or more-than-profit sector. Some of this will be due to financial pressures (not the best starting point to look for a partner) and in some cases because there is too much replication in many of the sub-sectors of the social space in general (too many, too small). This includes the voluntary and charity areas.

The article, although US-centric, also points out these issues. Having spent a number of years in the late Nineties working for a large, global consulting firm, I was involved in a number of pre-merger projects. These are complicated affairs, but there is no doubt that if a merger is being contemplated there are a number of key elements.

One is that a clear joint mission must be articulated. This may not seem possible at the very start, but these can be made visible with the right focus. This is the reason why so many mergers involve outside consultants.  

Perhaps because of my background, I tend to be against bringing consultants into organisations for run-of-the-mill projects, but mergers are one area where I lift my concerns. A merger or strong partnership must be delivered in a measured but tight timeframe and a good consultant can help deliver this.

Look outside and you will see organisations that ‘talk the talk’ over long periods of time usually do not make it to the ‘altar.’ I am not advocating a shot-gun wedding here but if you are still talking about it after six months, well the commitment is probably not there.

And commitment is key to this. If a large portion of the senior management team are not waking up in the morning thinking about this, then there is something seriously wrong.

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  1. April 8, 2010 at 09:44

    A very timely piece! I read the article and concur, its very good. It was particularly interesting for me because currently the local Partnership company I work with has been directed by government to integrate with 5 well established local Community Development Programmes. It’s a challenging time for all the organisations concerned and the process will from the outset require trust between parties and a desire to create something new and ultimately more beneficial to the communities and people these respective organisations serve.

  1. April 9, 2010 at 08:58

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