Eastside Primetimers chief executive Richard Litchfield has contributed in the Financial Times on the challenges involved in executing charity mergers, as an “ask an outsider” feature in their longer piece about Cancer Research UK’s Harpal Kumar and how he integrated the organisation after its 2002 founding merger.
Charity mergers are about values, not value, says Richard Litchfield, chief executive of Eastside Primetimers, a social purpose consultancy. They differ from commercial deals because they do not usually involve money changing hands, although a transaction is nevertheless taking place.
Not-for-profit deals can transform how social causes are tackled but are also “10 times harder”, he says, because without golden handshakes they involve more delicate motivations and missions.
In a similar vein to the CRUK merger, when Breast Cancer Now was formed in 2015 it brought together two rivals of similar size. It required the relentless communication of a shared vision, Mr Litchfield adds, and consideration of the complex incentives for those involved. For many charity managers and trustees, the organisation is deeply personal to them (and that is before considering the views and interests of beneficiaries and stakeholders).
About half the trustees from the previous charities selflessly resigned to enable a single board to be established, and a chair and chief executive were appointed.
“They were successful at bringing two different cultures together,” Mr Litchfield says, “because they united the organisation around a compelling case backed up by scientific research that pointed to scale, increasing the chances of a major treatment breakthrough.”
You can read the full piece at the Financial Times website here.
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