Is it time to consider a merger or partnership?

Repositioning for doing more good

Nonprofits often approach the “M” word as a sign of failure. In reality, affiliation is a key strategic option that can lead to growth and greater impact. Fairmount advises clients to consider a continuum of options from internal growth to merger or acquisition.

When the Fairmount Park Conservatory and the Fairmount Historic Preservation Trust made the decision to merge, the executive directors came to Fairmount for guidance on the “how.” Questions of who should be on the board, the role of the combined board, the logistics of coming together, how to integrate different organizational cultures, combining HR and IT systems, and others were included in the process we facilitated. In addition, Fairmount created a blueprint for the elements of change that bring a merged organization to life, including positioning and education for key stakeholders and major donors, a new website and communication vehicles, and training and development for key staff. Today, the Fairmount Park Conservancy is the City’s go-to organization for championing, stewarding, and offering programming in the Fairmount Park system.

For many years, fourteen historic sites and cultural organizations in Germantown worked together in a relatively informal manner to further their collective and individual interests. The time had come to take their efforts to the next level by forming a stronger, unified and professionally run organization to harness their collective resources and garner additional funding that would benefit them all. In creating a more formal Historic Germantown, Inc., the group wanted to attract new resources to its members that each was not likely to secure if acting alone. Fairmount facilitated a carefully designed, inclusive planning process that engaged all of the organizations and overcame concerns about relinquishing self-interest and autonomy. The result was a business plan that demonstrated how the whole could be greater than the sum of its parts, which resulted in a major, multi-year foundation grant to hire staff, expand programming, and fundraise. Historic Germantown continues to thrive, supporting its members with additional funding, programming opportunities, and enhanced audiences.

Pottstown is a microcosm of urban America: a declined manufacturing base resulted in a city with a large number of people with low incomes and too few opportunities for advancement. The School District realized that it needed to help the city transition from a manufacturing-based to a knowledge-based economy by strengthening the quality of education beginning with pre-school. It also realized that the District did not have the resources to do this alone. Fairmount was retained to coordinate a planning process that included the District, early childhood education providers, a family center, the YMCA, and local foundations. With Fairmount’s guidance, a collaboration was developed to assure that every child enters kindergarten ready to learn, which was named the Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness (PEAK). PEAK’s success has been remarkable by every metric: student academic performance, social development, and parent engagement. PEAK has earned national recognition and accolades, which has helped assure the collaboration’s ongoing funding.

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