Meals on Wheels

In February, Cincinnati Area Senior Services and Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern KY announced that they would be merging. Given that the primary service of both organizations was Meals on Wheels and that they served the same population of seniors, the decision was made to adopt Meals on Wheels Southwest OH & Northern KY as the merged organization's name to immediately communicate its mission. Tracey Collins leans into the role of Chief Integration Officer, while Jennifer Steel serves as CEO.

The merger not only created a larger organization to help seniors age in place, but it resulted in a more efficient and effective one. They have received an unusually large amount of positive feedback from funders, foundations, employees, volunteers and the seniors they serve.

Kat Steiner, Chief Giving Officer, recently wrote, "This is not to suggest that there wasn't plenty to figure out and work through. Thankfully, we retained Marta Brockmeyer to help guide us through the process - one, she helped us appreciate and navigate, that is filled with lots of emotion."

Meals on Wheels offers three tips for other nonprofits considering merging:

  1. Respect and celebrate the nonprofit merger. While merging isn't, of course, for every nonprofit, and every possible merger isn't a good one, there's no shame in merging. In fact, it may be the smartest, gutsiest thing you can do.
  2. Get your board on board. Educate your board, or at least its leadership, about the potential benefits of mergers in general and, more specifically, the kind you have in mind. Gain their blessing before initiating even an exploratory conversation with another organization.
  3. Over-communicate with your employees. While merger discussions and planning typically need to remain confidential until there's a formal agreement, be prepared to inform your employees using every available communications tool at your disposal: email, intranet, posters, videos, department meetings, all-staff meetings, etc. Continue to over-communicate from the announcement to the formal merger - and beyond. Be transparent and precise about what you do and don't know at any point in the process.

For additional information, contact Kat Steiner by email or phone: 513.244.5484