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From the editors of Nonprofit Quarterly: The following mini–case study is part of a series of studies submitted as part of the graduate course “The Nonprofit Sector: Concepts and Theories,” taught by Chao Guo, associate professor of nonprofit management in the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
This case study looks at the factors that led up to the decision of the International Museum of Women (IMOW) to merge with the Global Fund for Women (GFW) in March of 2014. While we reached out to previous IMOW staff—now at GFW—for a firsthand account of the events that led to the merger, we were unsuccessful and had to rely upon secondary information for evaluating the two organizations’ financial and strategic decision to merge their staffs, boards of directors, and operations under one shared mission.
From 1985 to early 2014, the International Museum of Women operated as a digital museum, curating exhibitions, producing physical installations and events around the world, and developing an educational curriculum, all in aid of inspiring creativity, awareness, and action on vital issues for women. According to IMOW, approximately 70 percent of visitors surveyed reported changes in their opinions about global women’s issues, and up to 60 percent reported taking action toward gender equity as a result of engaging with IMOW’s digital content. But in March of 2014, the museum announced it was shutting down operations as an independent entity and merging with the Global Fund for Women, the largest public foundation in the world dedicated to advancing women’s and girls’ rights through an international network of women-led organizations, advisors, and supporters. But if IMOW was so successful in achieving its mission and advancing global gender equity, what events led to its decision to merge?