Submitted by Jean Butzen on July 9, 2018 - 00:00

Lessons Learned from Those Who Have Let Go

This blog post is by Jean Butzen, Founder and President; you can read more about Jean and learn how to contact her here.

I am writing a book about nonprofit mergers and the executives whose nonprofits are acquired in a nonprofit merger. I am curious about these leaders, in particular, because they are usually the ones giving up the most in a merger: their title and authority, sometimes their position, and often their professional identity. I did this myself, in 2005, after 18 years of running a nonprofit that I loved, Lakefront Supportive Housing, which I led into a merger with Mercy Housing. I am not alone; many leaders have led their nonprofit into a merger, but many more would never think of doing such a thing. Why is it that some leaders would willingly lead their nonprofit into a merger and others refuse? These are the questions I am asking in interviews with nonprofit executives who have led their nonprofits into merger acquisitions. The interviews will eventually be turned into a book next year. Here are some of lessons of what I am learning from these amazing people:

  1. Merger and restructuring training often played a role in preparing executives to accept a merger offer for their nonprofit
  2. Positive reinforcement from foundation program staff for a merger strategy helped executives feel that their professional career would be positively impacted from their decision to merge, and made it easier to let go
  3. Putting mission ahead of all other concerns made it easy to see the case for the merger, and these leaders were very mission-driven

It’s been a real privilege to interview all of the people involved in this book thus far. I am looking for more people to interview. If you or someone you know has led a nonprofit in a merger acquisition and would like to speak to me for this project, you can contact me at: Jean[at]missionplusstrategy[dot]com.