The 'M' Word - An Open Discussion with Donors

Posted on July 20, 2011 by Pam Truitt

A recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article presented an interesting story on the approach two Big Apple theater groups used to open the conversation around the “M” word with their donors.

You guessed it -- M stands for merger, a four letter word in some circles. When Dance Theater Workshop and Bill T. Jones /Arnie Zane Dance Company realized that their missions and assets aligned, the first move was to engage their donors in a dialogue about ‘what could be’.

One wonders what that first conversation was like.  Wish I could have been in the room to feel the vibes.  No doubt there were difficult moments--the article indicates that financial reasons were a big driver to the merger.  But the process feels right. Getting everything on the table in the beginning seems to lead to long and successful partnerships.

The prospect of starting the process by laying out the challenges and opportunities was gutsy. It takes strong leadership to start with the hard stuff, so I’m impressed. This was a mission-first process. Very impressive. Mission first. Donor Support. Kudos to all involved.

What do you think of jump starting a merger conversation by engaging donors first?


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