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  • Pat Libby

Why Nonprofit Mergers are NOT the Answer

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Everyone who cares deeply about nonprofits knows that the pandemic will change the sector in profound ways.

Two weeks ago, Gallup conducted a poll that reported that Americans at all income levels are donating less to charity.

This is no surprise since more than a month ago, 30% of Americans reported being financially harmed as a result of the pandemic.

The federal government is borrowing at unprecedented levels, while states and cities are searching under sofa cushions for loose change in an attempt to fill budget gaps that would make the Grand Canyon blush at their depth.

The bottom line for nonprofits is that the bottom line will be a lot thinner.

Given that, we all expect to hear the drum beat – Merge. Merge. Merge. – coming from funders who understandably know that we need to save money.

At that same time, we are worried about losing our autonomy and doing the important work that makes us unique.

But, what if there’s a better answer?

What if instead we dedicate ourselves to Radically Rethinking the Nonprofit Operating Model by Separating Out Mission and Management Functions?

No one in the history of time has launched a nonprofit because their goal was to be a fantastic administrator.

You, like other nonprofit travelers, engage in this work because you’re passionate about making an impact on “it” – whatever “it” is.

How then, can we use our skills to reimagine how we get our work done?

Ask yourself, your colleagues, and your board:

  • What kinds of things do we do that are mission-critical vs. purely operational?

  • On the operational side, what do we do well that others might need?

  • What do others do well that we could take advantage of?

  • How can we form effective operational partnerships that will advance our work – individually and collectively – AND bring greater efficiency, effectiveness, and cost-savings to our organizations?

By doing this, our organizations might even have a greater impact than they do now!

Friends, that is just the starting point for this conversation.

I’ll be giving a free workshop on this topic at The City of San Diego Virtual Nonprofit Academy on June 10th. Tune-in and we can talk through the possibilities together.

If you can’t be there, I’ll continue the conversation in my next blog.

Have faith! We’ll get there,



Pat Libby is a consultant that helps nonprofits with organizational strategy, board restructuring, and executive searches. Pat has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations for more than three decades.

Get in touch if you have any questions!


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