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Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January

26, 2000. All rights reserved.

Nonprofits, Too, Can Profit From Mergers: Ingrid Reed

AOL and Time Warner. Glaxo Wellcome and Smith-Kline

Beecham. Big mergers are reshaping the business landscape everyday,

but could there be a lesson here for philanthropists — that is,

the thousands of nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry, house

the homeless, and educated the underprivileged?

Ingrid Reed, director of the New Jersey Project at the Eagleton

Institute of Politics, thinks the merger is a good model for


which are constantly scrambling for leadership and funds, to consider.

"There are many people doing good things, many groups setting

goals for themselves, but maybe we could be more effective by looking

how we can not duplicate, and cooperate instead," says Reed.


I were to find ways to do what AOL and Time Warner did, would I be

more effective, meeting more needs, and doing it less expensively?

Reed is the keynote at "Community Works: Workshops for Volunteer

Development," to be held Thursday, January 27, from 5 to 9:15

p.m. at the Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. Sponsored

by Rotary Club of Princeton, it costs $22 including a box supper.

Networking begins the evening and, some say, is one of the most


sessions. Workshops include using the Internet for your non-profit

organization, managing conflict, asking for money, public speaking,

building an active board, fundraising, accessing foundations and


for funding, nuts and bolts of a press release, marketing your image,

motivating volunteers, and collaborative projects. Call 609-924-8652

for a registration form.

Reed, who is married to Marvin Reed, mayor of Princeton Borough,

started her political career in 1971 when she unsuccessfully ran for

West Windsor Township Committee. She later managed Democrat Fred


unsuccessful 5th district congressional campaigns against Peter


in 1972 and against Millicent Fenwick in 1974. Reed was appointed

by Tom Kean in 1988 as chairperson of the Capital City Redevelopment

Corporation, and she was reappointed by Jim Florio and



Now with the Eagleton Institute, Reed researches how campaign reform

and information technology affect politics and governance in New


Voter apathy is still ailing the political system, but New Jerseyans

are as active as ever in volunteer projects, says Reed. "Young

people are telling us that it’s much more direct — you get much

more satisfaction out of it, and you see more results," she says.

"We know that people are very proud of their own hometowns —

they usually know who their mayor is even if they don’t know their

congressman because they make their connections in personal ways.

They believe that the things that they care about — homelessness,

for example — doesn’t have a connection with government."

Where the political system fails, nonprofits apparently prevail.

Healthy nonprofit organizations need strong leadership and support

from funders and volunteers, but that’s not always enough, says Reed,

who has a BS in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Class

of 1958. "One of the things I’m going to talk about is being smart

about collaborations," she says. "In the business world,


very aware of what the competition does. You want to have your own

niche, so you’re going to try to be the best at what you do. But


you’re too small to be effective, and sometimes you’d do better if

you worked with more people. You could be more efficient and find

ways that you can do more with the money you have."

Organizations that come together on a mission also gain credibility

with funders, says Reed: "I think funders are asking the question:

are you looking at how you can deliver your services more


Sometimes that means teaming up with an organization that can help

bridge municipal, community, and even religious boundaries.


need to look at what other nonprofits are doing so as they aspire

to meet more needs, they might share overhead as opposed to starting

a new program."

Leaders of nonprofit organizations should ask themselves if


would provide a better service "If you are not seen as an


that has a specific unique mission," Reed says, "and you think

you do, how do you make your mission known, and move ahead in a


way, so you’re not seen as duplicating what someone else does?"

Letting go of singular control can be almost as hard among nonprofit

leaders as it is for entrepreneurs "because people do so much

of their work with their heart," says Reed. "In community

organizations you don’t have a lot leftover — of anything —

of volunteer time, staff time, and energy. So to think creatively

about how to be more effective is probably the biggest challenge of


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