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.
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.
Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC) and the Organization of the Northeast (ONE) were community organizing nonprofits working in adjacent neighborhoods in the north-side of Chicago. As the geographic distinction between their focus neighborhoods became increasingly blurred, the two organizations began exploring a merger to streamline operations given the entities’ similar missions, cultures and approaches to their work. Merger discussions gained urgency when ONE’s executive director announced her plans to resign. Since LAC’s executive director was a natural successor, the two organizations decide to formally merge, taking the name ONE Northside. A SeaChange-Lodestar Nonprofit Collaboration Fund grant helped cover the expenses associated with the merger’s implementation.
Belle Center of Chicago and Aspire were two Chicago-based organizations that worked with people with developmental disabilities. Aspire, the larger organization of the two, focused on adults and its services were located primarily in Chicago’s suburbs, while the smaller Belle Center served children and their families largely in the city. The merger allowed the two organizations with different programming strengths and geographic emphasis to create a more comprehensive program serving a larger community. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided the organizations with an initial grant to explore the possibility of a merger and a second grant to help fund one-time expenses associated with the merger.
With the impending retirement of its executive director, Easter Seals of Nebraska began talks with the Visiting Nurse Association of Omaha regarding forming an alliance. Through their exploration process, the two organizations determined that a merger would be mutually beneficial. Easter Seals became a division of the larger Visiting Nurse Association, eliminating the need to hire a new executive director. The merger also provided the Visiting Nurse Association with an avenue to expand its services beyond Omaha’s borders. The combined entity realized significant cost savings through the consolidation of the chief executive role, administrative efficiencies and shared office space. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund provided a challenge grant to facilitate 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.
Blue Planet Network (BPN) is a web-based platform to support and promote clean water projects around the world, providing its more than 100 member institutions with access to water and sanitation experts, a forum to share best practices, and technology that allows funders to support and monitor clean water projects. As BPN’s most active member, East Meets West (EMW), had used the platform to design many of its clean water projects. Seeking to expand its water programs and technology, EMW approached BPN to explore a partnership. Given EMW’s strong donor base and BPN’s interest in enhancing its platform, the two organizations decided to merge. A SeaChange-Lodestar Nonprofit Collaboration Fund grant helped finance costs associated with the implementation of the merger.
Using experience-based programs to promote environmental education and community engagement, Hazon and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Centre have been connected for many years through their complementary programs and many common participants. Seeking to expand their programs and invest in capacity, they explored the benefits of collaborating and ultimately merged to deepen the impact of their programs and increase the scale of organizational infrastructure. The merged entity, which took the name Hazon, received a challenge grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration to support expenses related to the merger.
The Support Center for Nonprofit Management was a New York City-based technical assistance provider that sought to expand its service area into New Jersey. Rather than establishing a new office, it surveyed the landscape of existing technical assistance providers in the area and decided to pursue a merger with Partners in Philanthropy, which specialized in fundraising assistance. The two entities merged in 2012 and assumed the name the Support Center for Nonprofit Management | Partners in Philanthropy. The merger not only expanded the organization’s geographic reach but also streamlined operations and enabled the organization to offer a broader range of products and services. A challenge grant provided by the SeaChange-Lodestar Nonprofit Collaboration Fund helped finance costs associated with the implementation of the merger.
Everybody Wins, a literacy program that brings volunteers to the classroom, was created in New York City in 1999. Over the years, Everybody Wins affiliates were established across the country and run independently. In 2006 a national organization – Everybody Wins USA – was formed to provide standardized practices and generate national awareness for the affiliates. Several of the local affiliates with modest annual operating budgets – Los Angeles, Miami, Hartford and Minnesota – decided to merge with the national organization to streamline administrative functions and achieve greater operational efficiencies. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration challenge grant helped fund merger-related expenses.
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.
In July 2013, the Sacramento Philharmonic and the Sacramento Opera merged their organizations to form the Sacramento Regional Performing Arts Alliance. The merger, which was designed to enable both entities to benefit from efficiencies and economies of scale to ensure their long-term artistic and financial health, helped to preserve the two institutions, which were experiencing financial challenges due to the recession and decreasing societal participation in the arts. In this combined structure, both the Philharmonic and the Opera operate independently on an artistic front, but are housed in the same facility and work together administratively. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund provided funding to support one-time implementation expenses related to the merger.
In 2011, the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI), a nonprofit that offers support services to parents in the form of support groups, education and information resources, decided that the best course of action to expand its programs and deepen its advocacy efforts was to merge with a larger organization. After an intensive process, the organization decided to merge with Jewish Guild Healthcare, an organization with extensive experience serving the visually impaired. In 2012, NAPVI became a subsidiary of Jewish Guild Healthcare. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped fund one-time costs associated with the merger.
Serving neighboring Illinois’ communities, the Neighborhood Housing Service of Freeport and the Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition provided similar services in their towns designed to help community members purchase their own homes and had successfully collaborated on programming for several years. Based on their shared vision of creating a greater impact in the region, the two organizations merged to streamline operations with a goal for the merged entity to expand its program from four counties to ten. In addition, the merged organization, now named HomeStart, was able to expand its policy and advocacy influence as well as leverage the expertise of its combined leadership to win contracts for affordable housing units. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided a challenge grant to fund implementation expenses of the merger.