Thank You Greater Philadelphia


Who knew there would be such an outpouring of interest in the Nonprofit Repositioning Fund in its first few months of operation? Since launching the Fund in early October, we’ve experienced a continuous wave of interest among nonprofits, funders and technical assistance (TA) providers in the region. Given that one of our central objectives is to routinize the consideration and practice of repositioning activities as an important strategic option for nonprofits, we are heartened by the early and open response to our launch.


We enjoy a healthy pipeline of potential projects, and have already awarded six grants (five Exploratory Grants and one Implementation Grant). Given the confidential nature of these projects, I cannot yet share the specifics of the grants at this time. However, I can say that the transactions we’ve engaged in encompass a robust range across sectors, counties, and organizations of varying size and scale. We look forward to engaging side-by-side with our grantees, learning as we go in the coming months. Our hope is to provide a platform to highlight successful collaborations – but also those explorations that do not advance to a final collaboration – as learning cases for the community.


While we are excited to see that so many nonprofits are exploring the strategic potential of nonprofit collaborations, we are also working to better understand the basis for the strong show of interest in the Fund to date. One hypothesis is that repositioning is a natural response to recent economic shocks – namely, challenges associated with surviving the Great Recession, followed by the uncertainty posed by the recent Pennsylvania state budget impasse. People recognize that business as usual may not be sustainable given changing economic conditions in the region, and are looking for creative mechanisms to combine forces for greater impact.


A second factor may be that the Fund has launched at a time when leaders in the nonprofit sector are increasingly familiar with corporate business practices. Nonprofits appear ready to thoughtfully adopt select business elements from the for profit community, while at the same time hopefully improving upon some of that sector’s harder lessons, particularly surrounding mergers and acquisitions.


Also of note, four of our six proposed affiliations have involved leaders who were stepping down from their respective organizations. In these instances, rather than rush to fill impending openings, the boards of these organizations and leaders of partner agencies have seen this as a catalyst to explore possible collaborations. It may well be that this region is facing into a leadership transition that may initially have stalled during the recession, but is now influencing some of these long-term decisions to collaborate.


Finally, one of the reasons we believe the community has embraced the Fund has been the generous sponsoring of over a dozen events throughout the region, where I have had the opportunity to describe the Fund and field thoughtful questions from a diversity of audiences. The list is too long to thank everyone who has hosted the Fund, but it has been invaluable for me as the Director to hear the questions on people’s minds, and to have individuals share their personal experiences with collaborations. I have several more engagements lined up for 2016, and will happily accept invitations to join additional meetings, conferences, or other forums for outreach.


We welcome hearing your thoughts on what is happening in this community surrounding long-term collaboration, and what – if anything – as you have observed changes in the local nonprofit landscape.


Thank you for this invigorating launch in Greater Philadelphia – we look forward to engaging more deeply with the Greater Philadelphia community in 2016.