Designing Your Strategic Alliance

Designing Your Strategic Alliance

Challenging times (like these) require nonprofit leaders, both Board volunteers and staff, to deepen their understanding of their current financial health and the risk to their ability to continue to enact their mission.

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is pleased to announce programs to help local nonprofit leaders assess the strengths and vulnerabilities of their organizations and identify available options to secure your organization's future. 

Take the Self Assessment below and attend the workshop to explore the best options for your organization's sustainability.


Presenters: Jessica Cavagnero, SeaChange Capital Partners and Anne Yurasek, Fio Partners
Graustein Memorial Fund, Hamden, CT
March 21, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

  • What are the costs associated with strategic alliances?  From where does funding come?;
  • Review best practices for early stage alliance discussions including the use of Letters of Intent; 
  • Clarify the criteria utilized to design and select the appropriate model; 
  • Identify anticipated process challenges and how best to avoid them; 
  • Explore a specific process challenge, related to governance, and learn how the challenge could be addressed. 

Organizations moving forward with collaborations and mergers can apply at this stage to both Sea Change Capital Partners and The Community Foundation for funding to explore and/or implement partnerships.  With a separate application to Pro Bono Partnership, legal services may be provided at no cost.

Optional Luncheon Panel
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Hear about the challenges and successes from organizations that are working in different models of collaboration, merger and management services.

Register Now

Take the Self-Assessment

An early warning sign, symptom, or system alerts decision makers of an impending negative circumstance. Early warnings are intended to provide time to react, to change course, to intervene and thus avoid or ameliorate that negative consequence. Warning signs in the form of Federal policy shifts and budget shortfalls in CT are undoubtedly warning signs that the nonprofit sector, especially those organizations that rely on significant support through government contracts, may experience trouble making ends meet.

Please complete your self-assessment to evaluate how your organization may fare in these changing times.

 start YOUR self-assessment now 

About the Presenters:

Fio Partners background and relevant experience 

Fio Partners helps leaders make better decisions. Fio Partners believes that the sound decision making can only result from the development of a shared, objective, common base of evidence. Decisions about where to invest time and resources can often be influenced by assumptions about the environment or the strongest opinion in a group of individuals or past experience with the organization. We believe that nonprofit organizations should also invest in deepening the understanding of both their staff and Board leadership as it relates to strategic alliances. Further information about the firm can be found at

Anne Yurasek, MBA, Principal, will be the lead consultant on the project. Anne has supported merger and collaborative processes for the last eleven years, including the merger of a community farm and a basic needs organization, merger feasibility and partner search for a basic needs organization in Fairfield country as well as supported multi-agency coalitions address both planning and governance issues, including the United Ways of CT and the Coalition for Housing and Homelessness. 

Jane Arsenault, MBA, will be the senior advisor on the project. She is the author of Forging Nonprofit Alliances: A Guide to Joint Ventures, Management Service Organizations, Parent Corporations and Mergers, published by Jossey-Bass in 1998. This was the first book ever published on consolidation in the sector. Jane has also written several articles and created models and materials that are used by non-profit managers in the US and Canada. Over the last 15 years, she has facilitated several mergers including the merger of the Michigan Library Consortium, the statewide library system in Michigan, and INCOLSA, the statewide library system in Indiana; five library systems into one in Illinois; the merger of the Women’s Center and Crossroads RI; and the merger of DATA and the Council of Mental Health Centers in RI. In addition, Jane has facilitated back office integration and network creation among large groups of organizations, including 16 United Ways in Northeast Ohio, 6 large social service organizations in New Orleans, LA.; 21 child welfare agencies in Rhode Island and a parent corporation with community mental health agencies in RI. 

SeaChange Capital Partners background and relevant experience 

The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund is active in building the field of nonprofit collaboration by developing and sharing knowledge. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund makes three types of grants – seed, exploratory, and implementation – to help cover the one-time out-of-pocket costs associated with exploring or completing a transaction. Further information can be found at 

Jessica L. Cavagnero, Partner leads SeaChange’s grant-making and advisory services activities.   She is responsible for managing two funds, The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration and The New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund, which each make grants to support nonprofits that are exploring or planning collaborations (mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, administrative and programmatic partnerships, etc.).  In addition, Jess assists nonprofits in analyzing and developing financial strategies to refine their business models, including scenario planning for growth, risk assessment, and restructuring.  Prior to joining SeaChange, Jess was an Associate Director at CCS Fundraising, where she created and executed fundraising strategies for some of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States. Before her transition to the nonprofit sector, Jess spent six years at Credit Suisse, the first two years working in Leveraged Finance sales & trading and the last four years in investment banking as Vice President in the Client Strategy Group, where she was responsible for developing global coverage strategy for a portfolio of 50 of the firm’s most important clients across all lines of business and geographies.


70 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT 06510



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