Nonprofit Radio: Collaborations – MOU To Merger

I’ll be on on Nonprofit Radio this Friday, July 24, at 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET talking with host Tony Martignetti about nonprofit collaborations right after he speaks with his other guests Jacqueline Copeland and Valaida Fullwood about Black Philanthropy Month. You can listen live on Talking Alternative. The archived podcast will be available a few days after the show airs.

With the public health and financial crises, many nonprofits are rightfully concerned about their viability and their ability to serve their clients and other intended beneficiaries. As a likely result, a much greater number of nonprofits than usual is starting to consider mergers and other forms of collaboration.

In COVID-19’s Impact on Nonprofits’ Revenues, Digitization, and Mergers, author and nonprofit merger guru David La Piana observes: “Over more than two decades of helping hundreds of nonprofits merge, La Piana Consulting has observed the prevalence of mergers to be 1 percent or less of the sector in any given year. It is remarkable that 23 percent of the organizations responding to our survey are now considering such partnerships.”

In another recent article (behind The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s subscription paywall), Ask an Expert: Starting the Merger Conversation in a Crisis, Sandi Clement McKinley, vice president at the Nonprofit Finance Fund states: “It’s only natural for boards and leaders to consider the spectrum of options available to ensure the stewardship of the organization’s mission and assets, and mergers are among the options most frequently raised.” McKinley further suggests discussing questions like: Why might this be a good mission fit? Would a merger improve, expand, or preserve services for our community? How do we know? Would a merger help us to gain operational efficiencies? Do we have the knowledge and resources to carry it out? What are we able to do or take on?

While mergers may be the most discussed form of collaboration among nonprofit organizations, they also represent the most extreme form of collaboration. Nonprofit leaders should also be aware of some of the other ways to collaborate from coordinating activities pursuant to a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to entering into some form of contract pursuant to which each party has certain rights and certain binding obligations. We’ve written on various structural options of collaboration here.

I look forward to discussing this topic further with Tony, and you’ll see more specifically about mergers on this blog soon.