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.
Experience Matters is a 501(c)(3) organization that works to create opportunities for meaningful work and service by experienced individuals transitioning from their midlife for-profit careers into high impact nonprofit work. The organization’s Encore Fellows program, which launched in 2011, provides a stipend to each Encore Fellow, who works for up to 12 months with a nonprofit organization. The Lodestar Foundation provided funds for initial curriculum development and marketing of the program.
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.
Although like-minded nonprofits may recognize the value of creating an umbrella organization to help sustain and support their common activities, they often don’t have the necessary resources to do so. Social Venture Partners International (SVPI) was formed to brand, support, expand and enhance the work of the individual Social Venture Partner groups around the world. A series of Lodestar Foundation grants have supported annual SVPI conferences in both local communities and internationally, the development and standardization of the SVPI brand and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the SVP model, the results of which are being used by the SVP network members (currently in the US, Australia, Canada, China, India and Japan) to increase effectiveness and demonstrate the impact of the model on their respective communities.
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
Modeled after the post-Thanksgiving consumer days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday was created to inspire all sectors of society in communities around the world to support nonprofits on one dedicated day leading into the holiday season, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Lodestar provided a lead grant to launch the project; additional grants provided funding to support ongoing operations of the initiative. In 2016, more than 1.56 million donors in 98 countries around the world donated over $168 million. In total after 5 years, over $376.3 million has been raised for nonprofits.
Four Lessons on #GivingTuesday article by Matthew Bishop
Initial 2016 #GivingTuesday Estimates at $168 Million
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.