Grantees Following Successful Mergers Share Advice To Others

Last year, six of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund’s arts grantees merged or were acquired, as Frances Phillips, program director of the Arts & the Creative Work Fund at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, writes in a blog post. Phillips interviewed staff and board members at each of these organizations to learn what shaped their decisions and to ask what advice they have to offer others.

"The ultimate success of these partnerships will be clearer in two years," Phillips states, "but final reports received one year in suggest that grantees’ thoughtful groundwork paid off and programs are going well."

In order to address these mergers and find a clear path, Phillips shares some advice for funders willing to help:

  • "Mergers cost money. Many of the Fund’s grantees worked with consultants on their mergers and all hired attorneys."
  • "Don’t wait for a crisis. If you think a grantee is amenable to a merger or acquisition, encourage them to explore it when they are stable."
  • "Allow your grantees to walk away from a deal. If you are supporting an organization that is considering a merger, realize that compatible organizational cultures are essential. If they need to walk away from a negotiation, or if the timing is not right, allow for that."
  • "Be realistic about cost savings. Merged organizations will be able to achieve some savings on their administrative costs, but program delivery costs will not change."
  • "Continue support for programs you believe in. Three of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund’s arts education grantees now are based within youth development or human services organizations, and one independent nonprofit is now part of a major university. The Fund continues to support all of those projects in their new homes, even though they are no longer technically arts organizations."

Read the blog post here.

Image by Rio Yañez, via Walter & Elise Haas Fund website