Might a merger offer some charities the best chance of survival post-pandemic?
Merging organisations that operate in a similar space is one possible option for not-for-profits facing tough times due to – or exacerbated by – the Coronavirus pandemic. We take a look at the arguments for this approach, and how to go about successfully merging two charity brands.
As Covid-19 related upheaval continues to reverberate through the charity and social enterprise sectors, many are having to wrestle with how, in the face of massive drops in income, they can maintain sustainable delivery of their charitable objects.
So many charities are – at best – faced with an urgent need to reduce costs, and – at worst – the prospect of imminent closure. It’s a potential disaster for service users, communities, supporters and staff.
Charity workforce furloughs “a looming cliff edge”
According to NPC’s Covid-19 charity redundancy monitor, over 5,500 redundancies have already resulted from the crisis – a statistic that does little to communicate the terrible impact this will have upon individuals, families and communities. And this is only part of the picture, as it only reflects publicly available data – masking the impact on the many smaller organisations that are likely to be disproportionately affected. As Richard Litchfield, chief executive at Eastside Primetimers warned recently, "Nearly one in five of the UK’s charity workforce is estimated to be on furlough, a looming cliff edge."
Even more worryingly, as many as one in five Scottish charities may be at risk of collapse in the next 12 months from the financial impact of Covid-19, based on an Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) report. It seems fair to assume that the situation in the other three nations of the United Kingdom is not radically different.
Charity mergers “rocketing up the priority list”
This means that talk of mergers is finding its way onto the agendas of charity exec and board meetings across the country. By joining forces with charities you might previously have viewed as competition, it may be possible to create a new entity that is stronger and more resilient than either party on its own.
Eastside Primetimers, publisher of the Good Merger Index, predicts that "the rate of organisations merging as part of financial recovery will be higher than usual, with numbers spiking in hard-hit sectors... This is rocketing up the priority list of charity executives, with a recognition that the scale of our problems calls for new approaches."
Creating a merged charity brand
Well before the black swan event of Covid-19, IE Brand began working with the exec and trustees of Bowel & Cancer Research and Bowel Disease Research Foundation – two competing health charities that are in the process of merging. By banding together they are set to become more visible and more effective, as well as more able to weather future storms.
IE Brand created a brand road map for merging the two charities successfully, with recommendations for how to optimise their chances of creating a unified brand, capable of winning hearts and minds, both internally and externally.
Freshly updated with our latest learnings from the project, our free PDF road map is available now to download via the form below.
‘Six steps to success – a brand road map for merging charities’ describes the journey of merging two disparate brands into one – bound by shared beliefs, culture, mission, tone of voice, messaging and a consistent visual identity. One that reflects the very best of both organisations, retains goodwill and inspires proud ownership in staff, volunteers and supporters alike.
Later in the Autumn, a new brand for a new organisation emerging from Bowel & Cancer Research and Bowel Disease Research Foundation will be revealed.
Of course, merging isn’t a silver bullet. Mergers can lead to further consolidation, culture clashes and job losses. But they can also free the sector of wasteful replication and deliver more robust, efficient, financially sustainable – and therefore stable – charities. One that’s ultimately better equipped to continue fighting for its chosen cause.
The rate of organisations merging as part of financial recovery will be higher than usual, with numbers spiking in hard-hit sectors... This is rocketing up the priority list of charity executives, with a recognition that the scale of our problems calls for new approaches.Eastside Primetimers