Mile High Community Loan Fund (MHCLF) and Funding Partners for Housing Solutions (FP) were Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in Colorado. MHCLF and FP worked in close-collaboration over the years to maximize availability of capital for the benefit of low and moderate-income households across Colorado. SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided a grant for the two entities to consolidate governance and management activities, while retaining their individual brands. In removing operational redundancies, the resulting organization has been able to recognize efficiencies to better leverage resources, while retaining the goodwill that led to their individual success.
The New York City-based Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company sought a permanent home and estimated that it would cost $30 million to purchase and renovate a facility. Dance Theater Workshop, a New York City-based center for the development and presentation of contemporary dance and performance, conversely, had a dance facility but was looking for a co-tenant to help defray their venue-related costs. While initial discussions centered on a long-term tenancy arrangement, the two nonprofit arts organizations ultimately merged to form New York Live Arts in 2011. A primary goal of the merger was to achieve long-term financial stability for the organizations not only through sharing a venue but also by reducing administrative overlap and launching a blended capital campaign. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund provided support for one-time costs associated with the merger.
Three Phoenix-based arts organizations – The Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona and the Arizona Opera – partnered to purchase Tessitura, a fully-integrated software system for joint use. Designed especially for arts organizations, the software system manages ticketing, subscriptions and box office operations as well as fundraising and marketing activities. As part of the partnership, the three groups agreed to cross-market their organizations to their respective patrons and to the public. A Lodestar Foundation grant helped to purchase the software system.
Facing funding cuts to their programs, the East Bay Asian Youth Center and Oakland Asian Students Educational Services, youth service and community development organizations that served diverse minority and immigrant populations in Oakland’s San Antonio and Chinatown neighborhoods respectively, decided to merge. The due diligence process for the merger found several benefits for merging the entities including cost savings through administrative consolidation, improved fundraising through a reallocation of resources, and creation of a continuum of programs for their clients. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund provided a challenge grant to support one-time costs related to the merger.
The Lakes Community Health Center and the North Woods Community Health Center were both small healthcare providers serving low-income, rural communities across several Wisconsin counties. With overlapping patient and donor bases as well as complementary programs, the two organizations decided to merge to improve staffing efficiencies. The merger of two health centers improved staff-to-patient ratios, eliminated the competition among the two entities for highly-qualified medical professionals and filled a leadership void created by North Woods Community Health Center’s executive director’s retirement. The merged entity, the Northlakes Community Clinic, has also been able to expand services to its sites and invest more in its infrastructure. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund provided a challenge grant to support 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.
The Lodestar Foundation supported the retention of a consultant to facilitate a separate convening of key organizations working in the global water and sanitation sector to develop ways to collaborate using mobile phone technology for data collection and dissemination.
Five literacy organizations in Tucson, Ariz. – The Literacy for Life Coalition, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, Reach Out and Read Southern Arizona, Reading Seed and Stories that Soar – merged to become a powerful champion of literacy in all its forms. Separately, each organization operated on a small budget with limited staff and administrative systems. Together the merged organizations – now named Literacy Connects – are able to develop robust systems and processes, reduce overall administrative expenses, serve as a powerful advocate for literacy projects in the region and offer integrated programming in the promotion of literacy from birth through adulthood. The Lodestar Foundation provided funding for the merger.
In 2012, the Arizona Rural Development Council went dormant due to lack of funding. Wanting to continue the Council’s programs, the Council’s board decided to merge with Local First Arizona Foundation, which already worked on business development in 13 rural areas and looked to expand its programs throughout the state. The merger strengthened Local First Arizona Foundation’s services and volunteer leadership in rural areas and enabled the Council’s programming to continue. A Lodestar Foundation grant provided support for one-time expenses related to the implementation of the merger.
Phoenix Business Journal article on the merger
The Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s oldest, independent nonprofit focused on investigative journalism, and The Bay Citizen, a more recently-formed, entrepreneurial, web-based nonprofit focused on local coverage, merged in April 2012 to form the nation’s largest nonprofit organization devoted to investigative and accountability reporting with one of the largest data and technology teams in journalism. The merger has enabled the Bay Citizen, which retains its brand, to expand its coverage to include national and international news. The Lodestar Foundation provided funding for a consultant to develop a plan to successfully integrate their systems and organizational cultures upon merging their operations as well as for one-time costs associated with implementing the merger.
St. Louis Arc and the Belle Center provided complementary services to the developmentally disabled in greater St. Louis with each organization focused on a different age group. As demand for the Belle Center’s programs grew substantially, the organization began offering joint programming with the larger St. Louis Arc. The two organizations ultimately merged in 2012, enabling the Belle Center’s limited staff to focus on program delivery. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped finance expenses associated with the merger.
Like PCI-Media Impact, Media for Health used storytelling as an avenue to affect social change. Media for Health, however, focused its content solely on U.S.-distributed radio programs, while the larger PCI-Media Impact produced multi-media programs for 30 countries. In 2012, PCI-Media Impact acquired Media for Health. The mutually-beneficial acquisition allowed PCI-Media Impact to expand its domestic programming and provided stability and the opportunity for growth of Media for Health’s programs. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration grant supported expenses related to the acquisition.
Project for Pride in Living Enterprises and Rebuild Resources were both nonprofit organizations helping recovering addicts and ex-felons from the St. Paul and Minneapolis area re-enter the workforce. When Rebuild Resources’ long-time CEO resigned, the two organizations began to explore the possibility of merging their operations. Benefits of the merger included a more efficient balance of the staff-to-clients ratio, aligned fundraising strategies, administrative cost savings and eliminated competition for donors between the organizations. The merged entity took the name Momentum Enterprises. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration challenge grant provided funding restricted to merger-related expenses.
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.
Two news organizations dedicated to daily in-depth news and analysis of school politics, policy and research, New York-based Gotham Schools and Denver-based EdNews Colorado, merged in 2012 to create the Chalkbeat. While both had risen to the position of being “the source” for education-related news in their respective communities, individually they were sub-scale and faced significant challenges operating as stand-alone entities. Together, they were able to attract national funders with the goal of expanding into additional local markets. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped fund merger-related expenses.
In 2012, Good Shepherd Services and Groundwork, two New York City nonprofit organizations serving youth and children, merged. The merger enabled the highly respected and significantly larger Good Shepherd Services to expand its programs into East New York, one of the most distressed areas of New York City, where Groundwork operated. In addition, Good Shepherd Services’ high-functioning leadership team and its management systems stabilized the smaller and younger Groundwork’s programs. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund helped fund the merger.
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.
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.
Housing First, a small affordable housing development organization that owned and managed 22 housing units in Juneau, Alaska, faced the prospect of closing its doors and putting families in need out on the street as federal and state funding for affordable housing steadily declined. In order to continue serving people in need, Housing First sought to merge with a larger community development organization. In 2013, Housing First merged with the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Juneau, which operates one of the largest affordable housing portfolios in the city. In addition to keeping Housing First’s 22 affordable housing units in operation, the merger resulted in significant annual cost efficiencies from shared management of the housing portfolios. Funding from a SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration grant supported merger expenses.