I’ve heard several rants lately about the importance of consolidating, merging, and eliminating in the nonprofit space. I have to tell you, this kind of blanket rhetoric makes me nervous.
Let me rewind momentarily. I fundamentally believe that organizations (especially in the social change space) need to partner in order to gain the maximum impact. So why am I so nervous about what seems to be almost the same statement above? Because the key difference is this, nonprofits need to understand what services and programs are being offered in their same space, so they can ensure they are not duplicating efforts, and so they can direct people who may need the other services outside of their expertise to the best program available (instead of trying to squeeze them into a program that doesn’t quite fit). It doesn’t mean that there should be only one organization per issue. Last I checked, in the for profit space, this is called a monopoly.
So, why in theory wouldn’t it work to consolidate all health & wellness nonprofits under one uber organization? It’s simple really, in this uber org, they will end up serving the needs of the largest population (because that’s how they can generate the greatest awareness and raise the most money), but that still leaves a lot of people with unique circumstances and needs not being served by philanthropic organizations.
In my opinion, there needs to be unbiased collaboration among like-minded organizations to solve the uber problems in a category. This collaboration should lead to joint programs, websites, apps, you name it; consolidating all in the name of serving the largest population.
But, we still need individual programs and services by individual organizations that can target the unique needs of unique populations. We need to be sure there is still entrepreneurship in philanthropy. We need to find those unmet societal needs and find the best organization to serve that need. Let’s work together to be sure we aren’t wasting time, resources, or precious dollars. Let’s find a common ground to promote each other, to raise awareness for each other, to make the largest impact.