The Ins and Outs of Alliances and Affiliations

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Q: We are considering an affiliation, combination, or possible merger, with another organization. What options do we have?

A: There is a wide array of ways in which nonprofit associations can combine, affiliate or otherwise come together. Some involve a complete integration of programs, activities, membership, leadership, and staff, while some provide for maintaining varying degrees of separateness and autonomy. A summary of several options is below.

Merger. Nonprofit corporations can fully and completely integrate their programs, functions, and membership by merging. When two nonprofit entities merge, one entity legally becomes part of the surviving entity and effectively dissolves. The surviving corporation takes title to all of the assets, and assumes all of the liabilities, of the non-surviving entity.

Benefits. By merging, associations may combine their assets, reduce costs by eliminating redundant administrative processes, and provide broader services and resources to their members. Furthermore, members who paid dues and fees to participate in the formerly separate associations are often able to reduce their membership dues and the costs and time demands of association participation by joining a single, combined organization. Finally, merger may allow associations participating within the same field or industry to offer a wider array of educational programming, publications, advocacy and other services to a larger constituency in the public arena.

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