A recent Boston Globe article suggested that the nonprofit merger rate has increased due to the economic downturn. In a letter to the editor, TSNE’s Hez Norton, who oversees our new Organizational Transitions program, suggests that there are many other — and often more effective — ways for nonprofits to share resources to better serve constituents.

In “More nonprofits engage in mergers for survival” (April 15, 2009), The Boston Globe examines one way that nonprofit organizations are collaborating – through mergers. While this may be a viable alternative for organizations with compatible missions, it is important to understand that merger is just one of many ways nonprofits are collaborating across the sector.

Third Sector New England was privileged to play a role in the two merger situations profiled in the article. Through our Executive Transitions Program, we placed the interim executive director at Dorchester CARES, who supported that merger process. We also placed the interim executive director and helped lead the transition process with Concilio Hispano that led to merger.

It is critical that nonprofit organizations explore an array of options as they look to meet their mission and best service constituents, especially during these difficult economic times. These options include joint ventures, shared services, merger, shared administration, shared programs and fiscal sponsorship.

The bottom line: Nonprofits need always to be creative in serving their constituents effectively – while keeping mission front and center. Looking at new models of collaboration and partnership has always been important. Now it is more important than ever.

Hez Norton, manager
Executive and Organizational Transitions