CP Rochester (CPR) and Happiness House (HH) were organizations in upstate New York serving people with developmental disabilities. With common missions and overlapping services, they had been sharing a CEO and CFO for two years, after which they proceeded to fully merge. A grant from The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration funded an administrative and executive staff-sharing partnership to support the merger.
Although at least a dozen adoption and foster care agencies in the metropolitan Phoenix area handle special needs children, there was no central place where adoptive and foster parents could find post-adoption support, information and services. One of the agencies, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK, www.aask-az.org), proposed the creation of an agency-independent resource center and public/private collaboration dedicated to connecting adoptive, foster care, kinship and guardianship families to resources, support, education and each other. This led to the creation of The Lodestar Family Connections Center at AASK (www.familyconnectionscenter.org). Although no longer operating as a physical one-stop-shop, participating agencies formed a joint website to coordinate services for foster care.
In 2005, San Diego-based Kids Included Together (KIT), a nonprofit organization that advocates for the inclusion of children with disabilities, sought to expand its work by opening a chapter in Los Angeles. Two years after the Los Angeles chapter’s launch, the new entity split from KIT and named itself All Kids Inc. (AKI). Over the years, KIT has grown into a national organization working in communities across the country. AKI, on the other hand, struggled to secure a strong financial footing. AKI approached KIT in 2013 to explore a merger. The merger provides KIT the opportunity to grow its programs in Los Angeles while strengthening AKI’s finances. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided a challenge grant to fund one-time expenses related to the merger.
Communities Unlimited is the product of a merger between alt.Consulting and Community Resource Group (CRG), two nonprofits that work in hundreds of persistently poor communities across the South. By combining the two organizations’ strengths and services, Communities Unlimited is able to create vibrant and prosperous communities by launching a long-term initiative to build sustainable prosperity in communities across the region, as well as to continue the founding organizations’ work with small businesses, entrepreneurs and community water and wastewater systems.
The Center for Popular Democracy and the Leadership Center for the Common Good, two national nonprofits that promote equality and economic opportunity by engaging in direct community organizing and policy work as well as providing capacity building technical assistance to organizing nonprofits, sought to build economies of scale to expand the scope of their services. They each explored mergers with several agencies but soon determined they were the best partners because of their similar approaches to their work. The merged entity, which retained the Center for Popular Democracy name, has not only increased its scale to invest in new programs and services but also has strengthened its advocacy voice and grown its number of partner agencies. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration challenge grant provided support for one-time merger-related expenses.
In 2013, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) and Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) were criminal justice organizations in Chicago with complementary missions and programs. While CLAIM provided advocacy and legal support services for incarcerated mothers, CGLA delivered legal services to low-income Chicago residents awaiting trial and those recently released from prison. Searching for a new executive director, CLAIM approached the CGLA’s executive director about the opening. Since CGLA was looking for ways to expand its services and its geographic reach, she instead suggested the possibility of merging the organizations. The organizations merged in June 2014 with CLAIM becoming a program of CGLA. The benefits of the merger were numerous, including strengthening executive leadership and program capacity for CLAIM, expansion of CGLA’s program services, and an anticipated $100,000 in annual savings from shared staffing and office space. A Lodestar Foundation challenge grant funded the one-time costs associated with the merger.
Balboa Park Conservancy and Balboa Park Central shared a common mission of sustaining and enhancing the vibrancy of San Diego’s historic Balboa Park. The two organizations focused on complementary work, with the Conservancy addressing fundraising, governance and overall management of the park and Balboa Park Central promoting the park through a variety of programs including the visitors’ center and “Passport to Balboa Park.” Given the common mission and culture at the two organizations, Balboa Park Central and the Balboa Park Conservancy decided to merge to strengthen their operations and programs by leveraging of the Conservancy’s fundraising prowess for park projects operated by Balboa Park Central. The two entities merged in July 2014, retaining the name of the Balboa Park Conservancy. A Lodestar Foundation challenge grant helped fund the merger implementation costs.
Refugee Family Services (RFS) and Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA) were organizations that serve refugees in Atlanta, a hub for refugee resettlement. The organizations had complementary missions and programs with RRISA providing resettlement and immigration services to refugees in their first year in the country and RFS providing educational, job training, and social support services to refugees who have been in the country for at least six months. The organizations had an overlap of funders and clients and often referred their clients to each other for services. After merging, the merged organization, renamed New American Pathways, is now a "one-stop-shop" for Atlanta’s refugees. A Lodestar Foundation matching grant funded the one-time costs associated with the merger.
In 2009, when the national offices of The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club merged to become the Cancer Support Community, each local affiliate remained a separate nonprofit organization. The Cancer Support Community Philadelphia (CSCP) and Gilda’s Club Delaware Valley (GC) were two PA affiliates that had similar missions, programs, service areas and funders. When CSCP’s executive director retired, the entities began discussing a merger. In addition to providing strong executive leadership for the merged organization along with the cost savings of eliminating an executive director salary, the union strengthened the entire organization’s staffing through their complementary departmental competencies. The merger also serves as a model for other Cancer Support Community affiliates considering merger. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided a challenge grant to fund one-time expenses related to the merger.
English at Work was a small organization delivering English classes at work places in Austin. In 2013, in an effort to scale its program, English at Work proposed a merger to the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, a nonprofit that works to improve the quality and increase the availability of literacy services through partnerships with 40 nonprofit agencies in Central Texas. The two organizations officially merged in January of 2014, with English at Work becoming one of the Coalition’s signature programs. A Lodestar Foundation challenge grant funded the one-time integration costs associated with the merger.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and The Balanced Mind Foundation (TBMF) were national nonprofit organizations that provided education and other services to individuals with mental health disorders and their family members. While DBSA focused its work on adults, TBMF worked with children and their parents. The two organizations decided to merge in order to scale their programs. The merger allowed for the expansion of educational offerings and advocacy efforts as well as the achievement of staffing efficiencies and additional cost savings from working in a shared space. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided a challenge grant to fund one-time expenses related to the merger.
The Lodestar Foundation provided a challenge grant for a consultant to help the Southern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers and Northern California Grantmakers associations to explore strategic collaboration opportunities.
Announcing Philanthropy California
Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan campaign working to expand economic opportunity and close the opportunity gap in America, is a program of the nonprofit Be the Change but operates largely as an independent entity. America’s Promise, a national movement working to help millions of young people achieve their full potential, had an interest in acquiring the program from Be the Change, as the two programs share common attributes. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided support for the consultant costs associated with exploring a possible acquisition of the program. Ultimately, the entities decided not move forward with the acquisition.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world producing agricultural, textile and handicraft goods in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner have had difficult attaining the financing necessary to bring their products to market despite a growing global demand. The Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) was formed by a group of sustainable trade lenders to improve the delivery of finance and financial management tools to these SMEs. Through the development of joint projects, advocacy, inter-organizational cooperation, and increased transparency, FAST works around the world to broaden producer access to credit and related financial risk management tools. FAST members include financial institutions committed to sustainable production as well as producer. Because of input from producer members is so important to the success of the alliance, FAST decided to waive membership fees for the smallest SMEs in the first year. The Lodestar Foundation provided general operating funds to support membership development of the alliance in its first year.
The High Atlas Foundation utilizes a unique collaborative process to improve agricultural productivity in poor and disadvantaged communities in Morocco through the planting of fruit trees and installation of irrigation systems on lands with a goal to improve the financial sustainability of the country’s Muslim citizens while preventing erosion and deforestation on land provided by Jewish citizens. A Lodestar Foundation grant provided support for a collaboration between the Jewish and Muslim communities to plant 40,000 trees in Jewish cemeteries to be farmed by local Muslim farmers in the Marrakesh area.
The Chicago Cultural Alliance, Audience Architects and the Arts & Business Council of Chicago share a common mission to promote the arts by enhancing the capacity of arts organizations in Chicago. The entities have worked together on several projects over the last few years and, in 2012, moved into a shared facility. Given their shared mission and location, the three organizations decided to explore other collaboration opportunities to scale its staffing, technology infrastructure and programs. A SeaChange-Lodestar Nonprofit Collaboration Fund grant provided support for retaining a consultant to explore collaboration options for the organizations.
After more than a year of informal discussion among 15 national Montessori organizations, leaders in a movement to create a Montessori leaders collaborative convened a two-day meeting to determine how the organizations might work together to share expertise, resources and influence to increase the availability of educational opportunities that promote Montessori's collaborative learning model. At the conclusion of the meeting, 11 of the 15 participating organizations decided to create and join the Montessori Leaders Collaborative. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration grant provided funding for the convening meeting.
With similar missions of helping women and children affected by domestic violence and/or homelessness, Homeward Bound and the Sojourner Center entered into discussions regarding the potential of a long-term collaboration to better serve their clients. Through the potential partnership the organizations sought to deliver enhanced services to their clients, expand the continuum of care to clients of both organizations, and increase the impact on the communities they serve. A Lodestar Foundation grant provided funding to retain a consultant to facilitate the collaboration exploration process. The two organizations ultimately decided not to pursue a collaboration.
Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey is the umbrella organization for Literacy Volunteers affiliates across the state. Each local program provided the same services within their specific geographical area and most, but not all, use Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey’s tutor training curriculum. The statewide organization and the local affiliates explored the possibility of merging their operations in order to standardize quality and eliminate duplication of effort. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided funding for a consultant to facilitate the exploration of a merger between Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey and its affiliates. Six of the seven affiliates merged with Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey in 2014.
Due to a significant loss in government funding, Very Special Arts (VSA) affiliates, which work to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to experience and participate in the arts, needed to re-examine how they achieve their mission. The Lodestar Foundation provided a challenge grant for retaining a consultant to facilitate the collaboration exploration process. Ultimately, the affiliates decided to not change their structure, but through the exploration process they learned how to better position the network within their partnership with the Kennedy Center as well as among the national arts/disabilities organizations.