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In 2013, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), a $9 million nonprofit, joined with Seguin Services, a $27 million operation, creating UCP Seguin Chicago. Looking back, it’s clear that the move was a good one; the combined organization has grown substantively, and it is much more effective and efficient that either pre-merger entity was on its own. Why should that fact be of particular interest? Because as a sector, we still don’t know much about nonprofit mergers. Even the idea of two nonprofits merging still seems alien—or worse—to many people in the field. As author and nonprofit consultant Thomas McLaughlin caustically observed in his book Nonprofit Mergers and Alliances, “To some in the nonprofit field, the idea of mergers is scandalous and distasteful.”
Yet nonprofit mergers hold great promise, as our recent investigation, the “Metropolitan Chicago Nonprofit Merger Research Study” found. Nonprofit organizations can and should consider using mergers as an effective tool to achieve their goals, advance their mission, and increase their impact.