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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
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
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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