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Is it Time to Explore a Strategic Alliance or Merger?

Over the last 12 years, Vista Global has supported nonprofits across the country to examine whether a strategic alliance or merger was a strategy for increased impact.  

When the pandemic began, most nonprofits looked at current reserves to evaluate whether they could weather a 3-6 month downturn in revenue.  We are now passing the 6 month mark and all indicators are suggesting that we will be in this stage for at least another 6 months, if not longer.  

Can your organization continue to weather this economic situation on its own?

In the 2016 study called the Chicago Nonprofit Merger Project, 25 nonprofit mergers were analyzed from 2004-2014 to identify how trends have shifted over the last 20 years. The study identified that strategic partnerships and mergers are seen as a competitive strategy to support organizations in increasing growth and services. The study saw organizations using strategic partnerships and mergers as a response to market and policy trends to improve their competitive advantage. In addition, many of the organizations in the Chicago study had previous merger experience. In 85% of the cases, the board chair or board members emerged as chief merger advocates.

The Chicago study, maps out the key stages and key questions for evaluation for a strategic alliance and through this process, your organization can make a strategic decision as to how an alliance or merger can advance a shared goal, respond to community need, improve program outcomes, reach more clients and maximize financial resources.

From July 2019 to March 2020, Vista Global guided Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region and Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha, now known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin (BBBS-ECW), as they explored each stage of a strategic alliance. 

When the pandemic took hold, BBBS-ECW was prepared, having already pivoted their organization efficiently and sustainably in several ways. 

Recently, BBBS-ECW CEO, Lindsay Fenlon shared with community partners how the recent merger prepared them to navigate COVID-19:

Through the help of community partners, we invested roughly $250,000 into the merger negotiation and integration process. This financial support enabled us to “do it right,” creating a new organization with the ability to pivot efficiently  and sustainably in the following ways: 

  • Operational Systems: We chose to integrate and transition all critical operational systems to cloud-based options, including financial management (Quickbooks Online and online banking), telecommunications (VoIP phone system with virtual meeting, texting, scanning,  and information sharing and storage (Office 365, Sharepoint and Onedrive file systems), program database (Salesforce platform), donor database (eTapestry) and board communications (Microsoft Teams).  As such, we were able to transition to 100% work remote within 24 hours.
  • Technology: In anticipation of the need to work remotely, all staff laptops and technology devices were replaced with camera and microphone enabled laptops with Bluetooth capability. We were able to stay connected to our cloud-based operational systems with no need to wait for additional supplies or materials to facilitate “business as usual.”
  • Leadership Capacity: The merger required an organization restructure and we elected to maintain all personnel, focusing on adding more management positions to expand the leadership team. While this initially carried a higher salary impact on our operational budget, we gained additional capacity of leadership-thinkers, poised to strategically tackle the diverse crisis that COVID-19 brought while simultaneously achieving the following two weeks after the Safer at Home order was announced:
    • Pivoted 100% of programming to virtual mentoring;
    • Transitioned all program processes to virtual, including new enrollments and make-match meetings. The first virtual match was made 10 days after the Safer at Home order went into effect;
    • Postponed and restructured fundraising events for optimal revenue retention;
    • Designed and implemented a multi-audience communication plan, successfully communicated small wins and big breakthroughs with PR, social media and direct communication to stakeholders
    • Developed financial forecasts that allow for 100% retention of employees
  • Board Cohesion: The negotiation process required that each board of director associated with the original agencies come together to listen, learn and dream big about the future.  Ten days into January, the newly combined board of BBBS met to define a cohesive way of moving the mission forward. Clear board member responsibilities, committees and goals, and communication expectations were defined and refined throughout the first quarter of 2020. When COVID-19 hit, board members were among the first to reach out to BBBS leadership to offer support and empower myself to take drastic action as needed to ensure the organization’s sustainability. As such, I was able to mobilize swiftly to take advantage of federal legislature and operational modifications necessary to best protect the mission of the organization and the safety of the BBBS team.
  • Culture of Adaptability and Resiliency: As part of the merger, our team faced the need to embrace change in order to move forward under the umbrella of one unified agency. Policies, procedures, practices, and organizational structure throughout the entire agency were modified as we got use to the adage that “the only thing consistent in life is change.” When the life-altering changes that came with COVID-19 were first coming to light, our team embraced it as just another situation to adapt to. In the weeks since, the staff and board of directors have acknowledged having full confidence in agency leadership and in each other, identifying that the cultural challenges inherent within any merger actually led us to coming together as a dynamic and diverse group of mission-committed individuals with the tools to keep kids connected during a crisis. 

In Fall 2020, Vista Global in collaboration with BBBS-ECW, will release a white paper that shares the learnings and key success factors contributing to BBBS-ECW’s merger and how that prepared the organization to navigate COVID-19.

Other Vista Global blogs on nonprofit mergers: 

Five Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Partnerships & Mergers

Nonprofits on the Move with Mergers

Tips on Nonprofit Merger Success Through Organizational Cultural Integration

If you are wondering if a strategic alliance or merger might be your organization’s strategy for success, let’s explore the options together.

Is Your Organization Built to Last?

Recently I partnered with Forward Community Investments in hosting a webinar on organizational capacity building and strategy development.  In this time of constant change, nonprofit organizations need to think about building capacity to remain relevant in the field in which they operate. What are the key steps to building your organization to last? 1. Assess … Continue reading “Is Your Organization Built to Last?”

Recently I partnered with Forward Community Investments in hosting a webinar on organizational capacity building and strategy development.  In this time of constant change, nonprofit organizations need to think about building capacity to remain relevant in the field in which they operate.

800px-Cairo,_Gizeh,_Pyramids_of_Kephren_and_Khufu,_Egypt,_Oct_2004What are the key steps to building your organization to last?

1. Assess current organizational capacity.

Capacity refers to intentional, coordinated and mission-driven efforts aimed at strengthening the management and governance of nonprofits to improve performance and impact.

2. Start at the top.

Focus on your organization’s mission and vision.

3. Know Thyself.

Analyze your organization’s business model; focus on geography, customers, programs, and funding.

4. Know the market.

Your organization doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Map out where you operate and who you compete with.  What trends will impact your organization?

5. Build on your strengths.

What differentiates your organization from others in your market? What makes you unique? Build on that.

6. Make decision-making explicit.

Identify criteria for testing strategic options. Create a structure for discussion with board and staff.

7. Develop strategies to answer the biggest questions.

What are the most important questions facing your organization right now?  Draft strategies that answer each question.

8. Develop implementation plan.

You’ve defined the big questions facing your organization and created strategies to address those questions.  The last step is bringing strategy to life.  Document how you will implement the strategies that will build an organization to last.

Check out the webinar.  Or if you want to chat about building your organization to last, Contact me today to get started!

Calling All Change Makers

Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, LLC (VGCC) partners with organizations and individuals to make meaningful change in the world. Whether you are navigating change on a personal, professional or organizational level, VGCC services will guide you to your vision. With over 20 years of experience, Certified Coach and Consultant Mary Stelletello will help you reach your goals. Contact … Continue reading “Calling All Change Makers”

Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, LLC (VGCC) partners with organizations and individuals to make meaningful change in the world. Whether you are navigating change on a personal, professional or organizational level, VGCC services will guide you to your vision.

Vision_header

With over 20 years of experience, Certified Coach and Consultant Mary Stelletello will help you reach your goals. Contact Mary today to learn how Vista Global Coaching & Consulting is right for you.

How I Developed the Vista Global Vision (and How to Get Started on Yours)

When I started my business I wanted to identify a company name that I could use in both English and Spanish so it would be understandable when I worked in Latin America.  I wanted to identify a name that conveyed opportunity and expansivenss. After pages of scribbling different words and word combinations, Vista Global emerged. A “global … Continue reading “How I Developed the Vista Global Vision (and How to Get Started on Yours)”

When I started my business I wanted to identify a company name that I could use in both English and Spanish so it would be understandable when I worked in Latin America.  I wanted to identify a name that conveyed opportunity and expansivenss.

Sky PhotoAfter pages of scribbling different words and word combinations, Vista Global emerged. A “global view” and vision of making a difference in the world.   It emerged like the sun rising. I love the cycle of the sun, rising to welcome a new day and setting to reflect the beauty of the day that has ended.  Vista Global conveys that sense of possibility.

As a certified coach with The Coaches Training Institute, I believe that values are the foundation of our success professionally and personally.  Research conducted by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner for The Leadership Challenge confirms that when we live and work in alignment with our values we have higher performance, more energy and frankly life is just a lot more fun!

Can you identify your top 5 values?  Are you living and working in alignment with your values? If you have never thought about your values and what is important to you, here are a few quick tips to get you started on this path toward your greatest potential:

5 Tips for Identifying your Values:

1. Values are who you are. Not who you would like to be, not who you think you should be but who you are in your life right now.

2. Values serve as your compass pointing out what it means to be true to yourself. They are guiding principles of how you live your life.

3. Values are the “non-negotiables” must-haves in your life to be fulfilled (beyond the requirements of food, shelter, etc.).  If a value is not being honored, you feel disrupted, off balance, or a sense of things not being “right”.

4. Values are demonstrated in “peak moments” when you are completely in the zone of happiness and fulfillment.  What are you doing at that moment? Where are you? Who are you with?

5. Values are uniquely yours and once you have greater clarity of your values you are on your way to living and working in ways that offer your best self to the world!

My top 5 values are communication, collaboration, justice, authenticity, and fun.  What are your values?

Launching the Vista Global Blog

Coaching and Consulting for a better world… I am thrilled to enter the blogosphere to share what I have learned over the past 25 years in the nonprofit sector as a CEO, Program Officer, Consultant and Coach.  I look forward to learning from you as well, as we venture toward that horizon of making a … Continue reading “Launching the Vista Global Blog”

Coaching and Consulting for a better world…

I am thrilled to enter the blogosphere to share what I have learned over the past 25 years in the nonprofit sector as a CEO, Program Officer, Consultant and Coach.  I look forward to learning from you as well, as we venture toward that horizon of making a difference in the world.