November 2019
June 2021
Bryan Orander, President, Charitable Advisors
Merger – Survival vs. Aspirational  
The past year has been hard on everyone, including many of the nonprofit organizations we work for and support. While resources flowed to many nonprofits that were meeting basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, that was not the case for nonprofits that seemed less essential in the moment or lacked the partnerships, visibility, or fundraising experience to attract the resources or funds being distributed during this period.
If you are a board or staff leader, you may be wondering if your organization would be better positioned to work in partnership with another nonprofit. This would be a big step but could yield significant benefits. During a webinar I joined last month, the group discussed two distinctly different approaches to merging — a survival merger and an aspirational merger.
Take a closer look at these merger types if this option is being discussed with your team:
Survival Merger
If you are running out of resources (money, energy, staff talent, reputation), you may need a partner who can serve your clients/patrons and hire some or most of your staff. Under this merger, your timeframe is limited. You can expect a sense of anxiety during the process because you won’t be able to work out every detail and the merging organization will hand over most control and decisions to the surviving organization — hopefully to the long-term benefit of the mission. This type of merger is most likely to happen between organizations that already have been working together or in the case of one organization having an ongoing revenue stream that the surviving organization can access to take on their services.
Aspirational Merger
If your organization is full of energy and ideas and successfully funding your work, you may want to find a partner that will help amplify your impact to serve more people or serve people in new ways. Alternatively, your sector may be heavily dependent on a funding source that is directing service providers toward scale. A third scenario for an aspirational merger is that you recognize a need for new or stronger leadership and want to merge with an organization with a strong leadership team that complements yours. Discussions leading up to this type of merger will more likely take place over a longer period of time with both partners expecting to have significant input and sharing decision-making authority. 
Nonprofit merger myths
Unfortunately, many nonprofit leaders have misconceptions about the benefits, potential and challenges of mergers. Here are a few:
We will save big $$: Over time, it is likely there will be some savings as certain operational efficiencies are realized. However, there can be significant upfront expenses to combine operations and systems or to create and launch a new brand. Merging often means hiring more skilled staff in certain areas. Aligning compensation and benefits across two organizations usually increases costs.
A merger will lead to massive layoffs: Since most nonprofits are in the service sector, they need their people to serve their clients. Most nonprofits are already stretched thin; duplication is most likely to happen in administrative or mid-level program roles.
We need to ensure confidentiality: While confidentiality around discussions of a merger can be very important in the beginning of the process, it will be hard to maintain over an extended period of time. For an aspirational merger, as you move from preliminary evaluation to “how-to” conversations, you will need more staff members, and potentially many stakeholders, to be part of the conversation. 
We will lose our identity: Joining another organization does not mean your name and identity will disappear. Under merger agreements, there can be many options to maintain brands and programs.
We must put legal structure first: Don’t let corporate structure conversations lead your discussion. First, decide what you are trying to accomplish and then seek legal counsel about the best way to make that happen. In most basic mergers, one organization will disappear as its assets and operations are joined with the other organization.
Keep in mind that aspirational nonprofit mergers are most often driven by mission and people issues with financial aspects coming in as secondary — quite different from those of for-profit mergers. Reference my February 2021 article on a shorthand approach, MAKER, to evaluating your match with a partner.
To learn more please contact Bryan Orander at or 317-752-7153.
“Hiring the Best” – Hiring Assessments increase fit and retention
Charitable Advisors becomes Talexes Partner
As we bring new people into our organizations or consider existing staff for new roles, there are assessment tools that can help identify where candidates or current team members may be naturally inclined or might need to make conscious adjustments to thrive. 
We are excited to be working in partnership with Talexes and will be using their hiring assessments in our own executive searches in addition to providing local nonprofits with effective, affordable tools.

We love these assessments because they have been recently validated with today’s workforce, you can take them on phones and tablets, and they can be used through the full hiring, staff development, and succession planning lifecycle. Talexes offers three hiring assessments - for executive, mid-level, and entry level hiring - plus a great 360 assessment tool.
You can learn more by joining the “Hiring the Best” webinar on June 23 at noon ET.

Register Use registration code CHA100

Attendees will have a chance to try out the TalassureMX assessment for FREE! ($175 value). TalassureMX provides objective insights into the core behavioral traits, occupational interests, and reasoning ability of upper-level professionals.
Bootcamp for New Nonprofit CEOs
Aug 4-6, 2021 | Virtual or in-person at North Park University in Chicago, IL
Leading an organization, engaging stakeholders, raising funds, and managing staff can be challenging. The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management invites you to participate in three eye-opening days of professional growth led by accomplished experts. BootCamp is an exclusive opportunity for you to enhance your skills, network with colleagues, develop your “personal board of directors” and create a 90-day action plan to implement and effect positive change. Executive directors and CEOs with three years or less experience in their roles are invited to apply. Learn More

We want to recognize board leaders
For most board members, board leadership roles come with a commitment and investment of time and resources to support a cause they care about. However, for the individual who steps up to serve as board president or chair, the role comes with the assumption of overall responsibility for the nonprofit and guiding the organization’s path forward.  

As we continue to share news of board leaders who have taken the helm, we encourage you to recognize and thank these individuals for tackling the role, because as a community member you recognize the value of his or her investment to help keep the sector strong.  

If you want to announce your organization’s new board leader, please send name, position and a head shot HERE.

We are open to other ways we can support and recognize board leaders. Send us your thoughts or tell us a story about a board leader who has made a difference in your organization. Share your ideas with Bryan Orander, president.
Julie Stanley
President, GenderNexus
Principal Consultant,
J.D. Stanley & Associates
Executive Director,
Shafer Leadership Academy
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