Change Consulting – Organization Redesign


“Organization Redesign” helps nonprofit organizations achieve sustainability and greater impact through strategic restructuring efforts that can result in expanded capacity, economies of scale, program preservation, improved program quality, and/or stronger financial performance.

The Realignment Spectrum – MAP for Nonprofits of Minnesota

  • Collaboration: Two or more organizations create a durable, pervasive relationship that permits them to achieve mutually beneficial results That include continuity and consistency of information sharing, program coordination, and joint planning.
  • Administrative Consolidation: Sharing, exchanging, or contracting of administrative functions to increase administrative efficiency – i.e., expense savings, professionalization of processes, and co-location.
  • Joint Programming: Joint launching and managing of one or more programs to further the mission of the participating organizations – results in complementary, portable programming and cross sector initiatives.
  • Program Transfer: An organization spins off or transfers administration of one of its programs to another organization – addresses mission creep, post-demonstration projects, or a “lifeboat” when a host organization is going out of business.
  • Parent Subsidiary: Preserves the visibility and identity of the organizations while combining some of the partners’ administrative functions and programmatic services. Used when maintaining a brand is paramount or when organizational assets can’t be disassociated from the organization.
  • Joint Venture: Creation of a new organization to further a specific programmatic or administrative aim of two or more organizations – share governance, reduce costs, eliminate duplication and achieve economies of scale.
  • Merger/Acquisition: Integration of all programmatic and administrative functions of multiple organizations. Can achieve administrative efficiencies, preserve services, achieve program synergies, increase geographic reach, grow or go to scale – and advance the mission.
    • The primary purpose of Project Redesign is to sustain critical services by fostering greater collaboration among nonprofit organizations and by facilitating a range of strategic restructuring opportunities. Project Redesign utilizes all of the expertise in education, training, consulting, collaboration, collaborative management, coalitions and executive transition developed at the Support Center over the past 30 years. And, it leverages our vast network of strategic partnerships with funders, thought leaders, experienced consultants and legal experts to create a systemic, holistic and affordable approach to organization redesign.
    • The nonprofit sector is facing many challenges of growing intensity, including:
      • Increasing economic inequality and decreasing economic opportunities;
      • Increasing demand for services;
      • Greater competition for public and private resources;/
      • Increasing obsolescence of traditional fundraising techniques;
      • A political environment that appears less and less likely to consider the poor and underserved in policy development and in local, state and federal budget allocations;
      • A greater need for sophisticated marketing and social media skills; and
      • A generational shift in leadership
    • At the Support Center, we see an increased number of nonprofits failing dramatically, some filing for bankruptcy. This outcome is sad and painful, not just for the people employed and volunteering at these nonprofits, but especially for the clients and communities served by them. There is evidence that when nonprofits consider redesign early enough, changes that include shared services, program consolidation, acquisition or merger can preserve the mission of the organization and have dramatic positive impact on our communities. Many organizations wait too long to consider redesigning their organization. The time to act is before circumstances reach crisis proportions.
    • Organizational redesign offers many opportunities for future impact and longer-term sustainability, but it brings its own set of obstacles including:
      • Lack of knowledge about redesign options and process;
      • Legitimate fears of job loss;
      • Historical turf divisions;
      • Change anxiety;
      • Public transparency about financial and legal issues; and
      • A lack of resources to support a redesign process – many of the organizations that most need organization redesign are those least able to afford it.According to a recent Stanford Social Innovation webcast about mergers and collaborations, the nonprofit sector has seen only 10% of the mergers and collaborations that the for-profit world has benefitted from in recent years. Some key reasons for this lower number include:
      •Lack of knowledge of what redesign opportunities exist and how to take advantage of them;
      • Lack of funding to support redesign efforts;
      • Collaboration or mergers are rarely considered in developing growth strategies or in executive transitions;
      • Few matchmakers; and
      • Not enough consultants trained to provide both due diligence and manage the emotional issues in collaboration.Project Redesign addresses all of these obstacles and issues.
    • Our program is modeled after emerging best practices in organization redesign, particularly the redesign efforts of MAP for Nonprofits in Minnesota. Since 2007, MAP has facilitated over 90 mergers and 65 realignments involving more than 120 nonprofits in their regional area. This proven strategy will provide the nonprofit community with a clear process and framework for their own realignment efforts. The Support Center offers a wide range of redesign services that can take a nonprofit from exploration to implementation and beyond. The program has six primary components including:
    • • Education
      • Training
      • Matchmaking
      • Funder engagement
      • Consulting
      • Resources
    • Each component is discussed below.
    • Educating nonprofits and funders about the organization redesign spectrum is essential so that organizations can identify opportunities for collaboration as they appear and understand what is required for success. Using a range of education platforms, Project Redesign can help nonprofit leaders, their boards and funders make mindful changes and develop the power, agility and resilience needed to advance their missions, achieve greater effectiveness and position their organizations for whatever the future may hold.Education platforms include:
    • • Access to redesign experts;
      • In-person workshops at regional conferences and funder convenings;
      • Webinars and webcasts on range of redesign topics;
      • Clearing house of redesign case studies, growing body literature on collaborations and mergers, and other on-line resources.
    • We offer customized, sector-specific trainings for nonprofits or groups of grantees about redesign in general or a deeper dive into a particular aspect of the redesign spectrum.
    • Identifying the right redesign opportunities and finding the right partners can be a complex process and redesign facilitation is not something that lends itself to do-it-yourselfers. The Support Center can help:
    • • Create a safe environment for organizations to consider their options and opportunities;
      • Provide realignment expertise, resources and support; and
      • Bring neutral third-party perspective and facilitation throughout the process, which may include exploration, implementation and post-integration assistance.
    • The Support Center offers multiple opportunities for nonprofit CEOs and board members to meet other leaders interested in exploring a conversation about redesign. And, it’s not all about mergers! We can facilitate “speed dating” with nonprofit leaders to help them identify other groups with whom they can collaborate or at least begin an exploratory conversation. Project Redesign also helps funders identify who among their grantees can be approached for an exploratory conversation. Finally, our cadre of consultants are always on the watch for potential partnerships between clients. Project Redesign will also create and coordinate brainstorming and networking opportunities for interested leaders to come together, get to know each other, ask questions, assess their own readiness for redesign and identify new opportunities for greater impact.
    • A key component of Project Redesign is leveraging and expanding our many relationships within the philanthropic community in order to engage more funders in supporting redesign work among their grantees and working with affinity groups and associations to promote organization redesign among their members.Through Project Redesign, the Support Center can:
    • • Help interested nonprofits frame a request for redesign support.
      • Help foundation program officers develop a cogent rationale for supporting redesign efforts;
      • Convene and facilitate meetings with funders who have an interest in protecting their investments within fields of endeavor, specific communities or individual nonprofits;
      • Organize, facilitate and manage ongoing funder collaboratives.
    • The Support Center has over 30 years of experience consulting with nonprofits and funders. Consulting on redesign begins with an assessment of an organization’s readiness and capacity. We first explore the goal of the collaboration – scale, scope, or streamlining – and identify the least level of initial collaboration necessary to improve or magnify impact because we understand that establishing trust through smaller collaborations can help make the larger issues easier to negotiate.Collaboration is challenging at any level. With more intense forms of redesign efforts that include joint ventures, program acquisition and mergers there are considerations about systems and cultural integration that need to be thoughtfully addressed throughout the process in order to insure success. Our approach is always to frame mergers and collaborations as a positive action, designed to advance a mission as opposed to saving or eliminating an organization.We are also sensitive to the issues involved in brand consolidation, and we encourage all mergers to move beyond entrenched traditions and consider the creation of a new culture for the aspirational entity rather than assuming that one existing culture will become dominant.We facilitate a respectful and sensitive process from exploration and assessment to completion.
    • Project Redesign offers the public access to our redesign experts and library of articles, thought pieces and other literature related to organization redesign. The Support Center is ideally suited to bring the full spectrum of redesign education and opportunities to the nonprofit sector. For over 30 years we have helped nonprofits and funders negotiate a dramatically changing landscape, mine new technologies and organize themselves to become more powerful, more nimble and more effective. We have a cadre of experienced consultants with content expertise in almost every nonprofit field, strong relationships with many funders and a well-earned reputation for programming excellence. We are experts in adult learning and have unparalleled experience designing and delivering quality trainings and convenings. To ensure the success and effectiveness of Project Redesign, the Support Center leverages its many strategic partnerships. Our current partners include the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, BoardSource, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Pro Bono Partnership, and SeaChange Capital Partners. Through these partnerships we:
    • • Completed our own Support Center and Partnership In Philanthropy merger in 2012 with assistance from SeaChange Capital Partners and the Pro Bono Partnership.
      • Launched Project Redesign in partnership with the Prudential Foundation and MAP of Minnesota on July 9, 2013 with a full day conference titled New Designs for Changing Times at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
      • Co-promoted “Navigating the Merger Path” with BoardSource – a BoardSource webinar.
      • Published the Journal for Nonprofit Management (17th edition) with the Rutgers School of Social Work, Center for Nonprofit Management and Governance
      • Organized a National Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference in Newark, attracting over 300 nonprofit leaders, funders, and practitioners, with support from Rutgers IEL, and the Victoria and Prudential Foundations.




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