News & Insights

The Summer 2009 issue of In Trust includes three articles about joint ventures. In "Forging Partnerships," Robert E. Cooley lays out six "motives for cooperation," three "forms of collaboration," and five "reasons collaboration might not work."

In the same issue, Tracy Schier shares "A Case Study in Connection," which tells the story of the reaffiliation of Weston Jesuit School of Theology with Boston College.

And in her column, "Wing on Wing," In Trust president Christa R. Klein gives the examples of "old" mergers that worked -- Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (merged in 1901), Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (1972), and Luther Seminary (1982). She argues that when accompanied by "governance awareness," a merger can result in a strengthened board -- one that's guided by a strong mission and prepared for future challenges.

Joint ventures, mergers, and alliances are a big topic of discussion these days, and In Trust will be addressing them again the future.

Meanwhile, the broader nonprofit sector is also looking at mergers and affiliations as a way to reduce costs and further organizational mission. In a recent story on the Web site called onPhilanthropy, consultant Bruce Boyd explains why some nonprofits are considering joining forces.

Done well, nonprofit mergers and alliances can help the organizations involved pursue their missions more effectively. They can enhance impact, increase capacity, expand geographic reach and open doors to new funding opportunities -- for one or both organizations involved or, in the case of a merger, for a single organization that succeeds them. They can also produce long-term cost savings through economies of scale and the consolidation of overlapping services.

But as Robert Cooley pointed out in his In Trust article, there are pitfalls. Bruce Boyd agrees:

Still, successful M&A [merger/affiliation] is more easily discussed than accomplished. For instance, mergers (and other forms of meaningful collaboration) often depend on an organization's leadership prioritizing the institution's mission above the institution itself. They may require personal selflessness, since, in the case of a merger, some staff, including executives, may lose their jobs. There may also be cultural clashes between partners and enough upfront costs and third-party expenses . . . to undercut even well-laid M&A plans. Successful M&A generally requires major upfront investments of money, time and patience.

Read Bruce Boyd's entire article on the onPhilanthropy Web site here.


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