Time to Restructure? Collaborate? Merge?

Time to Restructure? Collaborate? Merge?

Assess your organization's operational and financial health and explore your options for the future

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 a new program in 2018 for local nonprofit leaders to help them assess the strengths and vulnerabilities of their organization. As a participating nonprofit leader, you will:

  • explore your organization's financial and operational vulnerabilities;
  • identify available options to secure your organization's future, including restructuring, consolidation, collaboration and mergers; 
  • develop long-term strategies to sustain the programs and services that are important to the Greater New Haven community.

This four-step program is free to 501 (c) (3) organizations serving the 20-towns covered by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and is part of The Foundation's continuing interest in strengthening Greater New Haven's nonprofit sector and the skills of our region's nonprofit leaders. 

Step 1: Take the Self-Assessment

Nonprofits interested in participating in the program are asked to complete a proprietary self-assessment created by Fio Partners. This first step enables nonprofit leaders to assess their financial health and the health of their current program offerings. The purpose of this tool is to provide nonprofit leadership with some metrics and a methodology to provide an early warning that major change should be initiated. 

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.

The failure to anticipate the need for major change has led in many instances to bankruptcy or precipitous closure with substantial injury to staff, clients, and donors as well as the loss of deep experience and tacit knowledge. 

Know how your organization may fare in these changing times. Please complete your self-assessment tool by Friday February 16, 2018.

 STEP 1: start YOUR self-assessment now 

Step 2: Workshop

Bring your completed assessment with you to a workshop with Fio Partners. Board and staff teams are strongly encouraged to attend together.

Presenter: Anne Yurasek, Fio Partners
Graustein Memorial Fund, Hamden CT
February 21, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

  • Review of assessment results to deepen understanding on current financial health and programs and services 
  • Explore criteria for decision-making based on results
  • Assess your organization’s relational strategy and current network of relationships 
  • Understand the current context for collaboration and the difference between collaboration and consolidation
  • Review the roles and process associated with developing a partnership or collaborative venture, specifically review the approach for developing Board-level policy
  • Explore the nonprofit strategic management framework and assess where opportunities for alliances exist 
  • Review types of collaborative models for consideration and how they are used.


For one month following the first workshop, participating organizations will be eligible to meet one-to-one with a Fio Partners consultant provided to you at no cost by The Community Foundation.  The consultant will work with your Board and staff to review results, deepen their understanding of their current financial health and the risk to their ability to continue to enact their mission.  This information will assist the Board in making decisions about where to invest time and resources in relation to restructuring, closure, collaboration or merger. 

Organizations moving forward to explore restructuring that does not include collaborations and mergers can apply to The Community Foundation at this stage for up to $7,500 toward a consultant to work with  Board and staff.  With a separate application to Pro Bono Partnership, legal services may be provided at no cost.

Step 4: Workshop

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.

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 www.fiopartners.com.

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 www.seachangecap.org. 

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



Sign Up for E-news