Letting Go of Your Nonprofit: Mission-Centered Leadership During a Merger

New book release by Mission + Strategy president, Jean Butzen

Through six vivid, engaging stories of individual leaders of nonprofit organizations who let go of their power and position in order to further their organization’s mission through a merger, Jean Butzen provides an innovative, practical roadmap for executive directors, CEOs, and board member considering this strategy. Why were these leaders willing to risk their personal status and jobs? How did they handle the stress and uncertainty of seeing their organization absorbed into a larger one?

Each story contains the history of the leader and why they decided to seek a merger. Then the chapter walks through the process for completing the merger and, crucially, the steps each leader took to let go of their nonprofit and their position. The final chapters go into more detail about the steps, and summarize the advice from the leaders.

Butzen finds that all the leaders went through a similar six-step process. The result was always that the merger produced a stronger organization that better fulfilled its mission. And what happened to the individual leaders who merged themselves out of their position? They all prospered as well. Their stories provide both inspiration and practical advice on how to make a merger successful. But it all starts with the courage to let go.

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“Butzen offers sage advice to nonprofit leaders…in a way that makes a compelling case that this kind of ‘mission centered leadership’ is not just possible but heroic.”
—Anne Wallestad
President and CEO, Board Source, Washington, DC


“This book is a significant contribution to understanding the complex dynamics of nonprofit mergers. Butzen’s stories… convey a thoughtful and important message about the overarching goal of nonprofits to maximize impact, even at the expense of personal loss.”
—Lois Savage
President, The Lodestar Foundation, Phoenix
Cofounder, the Sustained Collaboration Network