More On Mergers And Alliances

I have had non-profit mergers on the mind of late due to some personal experience so it is no wonder that two entries on the subject from different blogs caught my attention today.

The first was a book review by Gene Takagi at Non-Profit Law blog. He recommends Nonprofit Mergers & Alliances by Thomas A. McLaughlin. Takagi starts out referencing a quote from the book supporting the old truism that it is best to enter a negotiation in a position of strength.

“Indeed, the book had me at “hello” or, rather, its first sentence: ‘The best time to consider a merger or an alliance is before it is necessary, when coming together with another organization will mean combining strength with strength, and when the collective energies and the creativity of the two or more entities can be used proactively instead of being sapped by the demands of crisis management.’ “

This concept is actually central to the commentary made in the second blog post I saw today, Drew McManus talking about Philadelphia Orchestra and Philly Pops decision not to merge. The former would have absorbed the latter. Drew cites the troubles the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera had with their merger. The orchestra and pops adopted a gradual approach to the merger and that revealed some of the potential difficulties they might face as a single entity. Both organizations will work in close partnership, but retain separate governance structures.

As you might imagine from the title of the book he reviews, Takagi notes that there are different stages to both mergers and alliances and lists them out. According to Takagi, the book outlines the pros and cons to both approaches and provides some good advice about very complex undertakings.

The book may be a good resource for the next generation of non-profit leaders. Apparently McLaughlin feels that “nonprofit services are fragmented and how consolidation is part of a nonprofit’s life cycle.” Given all the talk about mergers of late, I believe there is more behind that statement than just an attempt to sell a book about how to accomplish such things.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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