Submitted by Jean Butzen on February 20, 2008 - 15:55

Cost of Serving Government Grants Drives Nonprofit to Merge

"It's overwhelming what the government requires you to do as a nonprofit with a small office staff," said Rob Stemple, Marketing Director for the former Somerset County Blind Center, which is now a division of the Susquehana Association for the Blind and the Vision Impaired (SABVI), in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Well said. Small nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to the difficulties of managing complex, onerous government contracts with lean staffs who are usually carrying out multiple responsibilities. Does this mean that small nonprofits should not have government contracts? No, but it is important for organizations to carefully assess the costs of contract compliance before agreeing to accept a government grant which could have onerous contracting requirements that small nonprofits are unable to meet. It takes deep back-office operations with talented professionals (paid the way talented people usually expect to be paid), to meet complicated contracting demands. What should small nonprofits do? Well in this case, Somerset County Blind Center chose to become a division of another nonprofit so they could focus more on the mission and less on the paperwork. In this case, it was a happy ending because both organizations were able to expand their missions and secure their futures.