Five Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Partnerships & Mergers

Over the last 20 years, there has been increasing research in the field of nonprofit mergers. How are they unique compared to the corporate sector? What are the elements that contribute to success? What are the trends being seen in the overall sector and sub-sectors? Continue reading “Five Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Partnerships & Mergers”

Three Steps to Becoming a B Corp “Best for the World”

We are all familiar with the term “Best of”… Each year businesses ask us to vote for them in a specific category, “Best Taco, Best Yoga Studio, Best Chiropractor…” Then a list is published, and it is really more of a popularity contest than a true examination of how that business is the best.   Continue reading “Three Steps to Becoming a B Corp “Best for the World””

Developing the “I inside the We”

This is the sixth in a blog series on the course I am taking on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser.

The sixth module, “Expressing Conversations,” guides us to develop the space for healthy conversation to emerge, for individuals to have a voice that can create collective next-generation thinking.   Continue reading “Developing the “I inside the We””

Nonprofits on the Move with Mergers

Too often discussions around nonprofit partnerships and mergers focus on the financial drivers. For example, one nonprofit may be in crisis and rather than shutter operations, it seeks to form a new organizational structure with another, more financially robust organization.

But there is another important reason nonprofit leaders should consider exploring partnerships: mission impact. This plays out in a variety of ways.  If you are successful in achieving your mission, then it stands to reason that over time, your mission may need to evolve. Or perhaps your client population has shifted dramatically with the region’s changing demographics? Or better still, what if the social problem your organization originally formed to address dramatically improved or changed?

Lessons from San Francisco and Beyond

Such pivots are currently apparent in the nonprofit subsector of HIV/AIDS-related services. Many nonprofits, founded 30 years ago, focused on an acute public health crisis impacting a smaller demographic segment of the population. But over the decades, as new drug treatment modalities became available and as the disease spread across other demographic segments, the service models and organizations had to adapt to the chronic, long-term needs associated with supporting HIV positive clients.

This summer, the San Francisco Chronicle and Nonprofit Quarterly reported how “Clients have gone from young men who were dying at 25 to older patients who, at 55, are still living. Currently, more than half of the people with HIV in San Francisco are 50 or older. Improved safer sex practices and advances in drug therapies and medical treatments have shrunk the client base dramatically; some agencies serve half the number they did in the mid-1990s.”

These trends have led some nonprofits to shift focus. For example, food services for clients have evolved to serve healthier food for those also living with diabetes and heart disease. Other nonprofits have merged together to provide a range of services around housing, mental health, or substance abuse prevention, in addition to HIV/AIDS-related support.

The need for HIV/AIDS nonprofits to refocus their operations has not been limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. New partnership models, collaborations, and mergers have taken place throughout the U.S. For example, Vista Global supported the cultural integration process for the merger of the AIDS Network and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Photo: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Grand Opening of new Medical Home. June, 2016.
Photo: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Grand Opening of new Medical Home. June, 2016.

Exploring the Implications for Other Sectors

The rapid changes in the HIV/AIDS-related space offer lessons that can be applied across sectors. For example, to survive the wake of the Great Recession, arts nonprofits explored a range of collaborations.  City government agencies are considering mergers as well, as highlighted by the recent merger of the offices of Homelessness and Welfare for New York City.

With the fallout from the U.S. housing crisis, social service nonprofits also have to pivot as the face of the homeless population changes. Currently, Vista Global is working with four nonprofits serving the homeless population to explore program collaboration and merger options.

Are the leaders of your nonprofit considering a program collaboration or merger? Share your story in the comments section below or contact Mary today to learn more.

Be a coach, not a boss.

Are you struggling to motivate your team or cohort of grantees? Do employees at your organization complain of an “us vs. them” management atmosphere? Do your company’s entry-level positions, most often staffed by young Millennials, turnover often?

As a leader, you need to rely on principles that get the most out of each member of your team. So stop being their boss and start being their coach. From the perspective of a coach, you can create a dream team with positive lasting impact.


Play to Strengths

Don’t focus on managing down. Instead, as a coach, spot each team members’ strengths, see how those strengths complement the strengths of other staff, and play to those combined strengths for shared success. Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder, writes “People have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.”

Calling the Next Generation off the Bench

As a new generation enters the workforce, leading as a coach has never been more important. Recent Gallup research shows that Millennials are seeking fulfillment in work over faith or family. In fact, young workers place more value on opportunities to learn and grow over income. To avoid younger staff leaving or checking out, coach and guide them to find passion in their work.

Where to Start

Ready to lead as your organization’s inspirational coach but don’t know where to begin? Take the first step by learning more about your teams’ strengths. Vista Global offers StrengthsFinder coaching designed for teams who are looking to build on each other’s skills. Contact Mary today and begin your journey from boss to coach.

Image source: Partial infographic excerpt from “The difference between a boss and a leader” by J. Shriar,

Every great nonprofit begins with a great board.

Vista Global offers a variety of workshops and trainings. But the high demand for trainings on board governance remains constant.  Board members are hungry for guidance on defining their roles and responsibilities. Board development is not a simple one-time activity, but a continuous cycle of self-reflection and self-improvement.


In our workshops, we explore different governance models and their benefits. Some organizations thrive using the Policy Governance Model designed by Dr. John Carver.  While other nonprofits may benefit more from Community-Engagement Governance, a framework designed by Judy Freiwirth, that shares governance responsibility across the organization’s constituents, community members, staff and board.

Another key component of these trainings is the importance of a great working relationship between the Executive Director and Board Chair.  In fact, certified mediator and consultant Joan Garry believes the relationship between the Executive Director and Board Chair “tells you more about the health of a nonprofit than any other single factor.”

Best practices don’t end with the board members sitting around the table, either.  Board members have a responsibility to identify and recruit the future board leaders, too. Our workshops explore the entire board development life cycle.

Your organization is only as healthy and effective as your board. Interested in learning more about nonprofit governance? Read more about Vista Global’s workshop offerings and contact Mary today!