Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nonprofits agree to merger: really not that rare

Crain's NY Business reported about a recent nonprofit merger, calling it a rare occurence. This actually isn't the case as many nonprofits pursue mergers and collaborations, especially with increasing economic pressures.

The article reports that: In an unusual move for the nonprofit world, Creative Center: Arts in Healthcare will become a program of University Settlement.

The Creative Center: Arts in Healthcare, a small nonprofit that finds artists to work with seriously ill people, is merging with University Settlement, a New York social services agency.

Under the terms of the agreement, The Creative Center will disband as its own 501(c)3 and become a program of University Settlement. Its longtime executive director, Robin Glazer, will continue to run the program as a University Settlement employee.

Mergers are rare in the nonprofit world. Even agencies that run similar programs like to stay in control. Ms. Glazer said that University Settlement approached her about coming under its umbrella a couple of years ago in the height of the recession. Though The Creative Center—which has an operating budget of $350,000—wasn't in financial trouble, Ms. Glazer wanted more stability for her nonprofit. University Settlement has an operating budget of about $21.5 million.

“(We) came at this merger from a position of strength and collaboration, and recognized that even excellent small and scrappy nonprofits are at risk in the current environment,” she said. “We wanted to ensure that all our excellent work would continue.”

The Creative Center was founded in 1994, and serves around 20,000 people a year. Through a grant from Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation, its programs are being replicated in 22 hospitals around the country. In its new home at University Settlement, Ms. Glazer expects the program to expand.

“We are thrilled to welcome this high-quality program into the University Settlement family, bringing additional skills, services and reach to our wide range of programs,” said Michael Zisser, CEO of University Settlement, in a statement.

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