Despite its tiny size, Rhode Island has a long and fascinating history and, as a result, several hundred cultural heritage groups of all sorts exist in the state, most of which are small, underfunded and understaffed. The Rhode Island Historical Society commissioned a study to explore ways for the various entities to work together to maximize impact. The study, which Lodestar supported, recommended cooperative programming, training programs and digital collaboration as proposed action items.
Planetree, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, three organizations with similar missions focused on compassionate, patient-centric humanistic healthcare, came together to explore creating a tool for the sector to evaluate the level of compassionate care being provided – the Compassionate Quotient (CQ) project. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund supported the cost of a consultant to facilitate the exploration.
Walden Theater operated a performing arts conservatory for middle and high school students, a small in-school performing arts program for elementary school students and a summer camp program in Louisville, Kentucky. Blue Apple Players, also based in Louisville, ran one of the largest in-school arts and education programs serving 25,000 pre-K and elementary school students each year. The two organizations had collaborated on programs for over a decade and shared many of their contracted artist staff. After having engaged in loose merger conversations for three years, the organizations merged, providing succession planning, a continuum of programs and substantial cost savings. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund supported the merger.
The United Way of Greater Toronto is one of the largest United Way locations in the world and the dominant funder in the city. The United Way of York Region is the northern part of Toronto; an area which, while historically separate, is now fully connected to Toronto given the population growth in the metro area. Not only do the two agencies fund some of the same community organizations, the people they serve, as well as their donors and volunteers, live and work on both sides of the boundary that separates Toronto and York Region. A grant from The Lodestar Foundation to explore a merger of these two United Way offices was a natural next step.
Fair Trade USA is the certifier of "Fair Trade" products in the United States which indicates to consumers that the supply chain for a given product gives farmers fair prices and workers safe conditions. Social Accountability International (SAI) was founded to advance the human rights of workers around the world. As the two leading organizations in the business of certifying and training in the "goodness" of factories, supply chains, etc., they began discussion of a merger to resolve succession issues and to increase the impact achieved by both organizations. A grant was made by The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration to partially fund consulting fees associated with the merger.
Two Jewish disaster relief nonprofits, Jewish Disaster Response Corps (JDRC) and NECHAMA (which is the Hebrew word for comfort), helped Americans affected by natural disasters, especially those who are un- or underinsured. With complementary programs, they merged into a single, Jewish-affiliated organization for domestic disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, with capacity to mobilize communities to volunteer during all stages of disaster. The combined organization realized gains in operational efficiency, continuum of services and program quality, and market positioning. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided partial funding for a consultant to assist with the merger.
Uniting Against Lung Cancer and Lung Cancer Research Foundation had a common mission: both organizations were dedicated to funding innovative lung cancer research toward finding a cure. Given their similarities in fundraising, and programs, they realized that a merger would enable both organizations to leverage their collective resources to have greater impact. A portion of the costs related to the merger was provided by The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration.
Career Transition for Dancers (CTFD) was a national counseling and scholarship organization helping newly retired dancers move into second careers. The Actor’s Fund (AF) provides assistance to performing arts and entertainment industry professionals including social services, healthcare, employment, housing, and emergency financial assistance. Despite its success, CTFD recognized that it needed to be part of a larger organization to sustain its programs. A merger with AF provided the answer for both organizations to have sustained growth and serve a larger population. The The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration funded some of the one-time costs of the merger.
Working in the Schools (WITS) and Boundless Readers (BR) were literacy organizations working in Chicago public schools. WITS connected students with working professionals that serve as mentors to 2,600 children across in 31 schools each year, while BR is focused on teachers, working with 63 school to provide professional development. The two organizations realized that they had complementary missions and audiences, and determined that a merger would provide succession planning, expanded programs, increased staff efficiency, increased fundraising opportunities, and some cost savings. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration funded some of the one-time costs of the merger.
Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH), Canadians for Choice (CFC), and Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) were three Canadian nonprofits providing complementary services in sexual and reproductive health. The organizations had partnered on many initiatives over the last decade and had loosely discussed the possibility of collaboration. After engaging a consultant to explore a formal merger, it quickly became apparent that a merger would yield better succession planning, more complementary programs, a stronger infrastructure and a differentiated donor base. Support for one-time costs associated with the merger was provided by the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration.
An award-winning, non-profit media production company focused on education, Learning Matters (LM) had produced over 30 documentaries and hundreds of hours of reporting segments for PBS NewsHour. Supported almost entirely by private funding, LM needed a sustainable financial strategy when its founder announced his retirement. With the assistance of a consultant, an acquisition of LM was made by Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), the publisher of Education Week, considered by many to be the “go-to“ news source for the pre-k to 12th grade education sector. A portion of the costs related to the acquisition were funded through a grant from The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration.
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.