Nonprofit Alliance Forming To Merge Advocacy Associations

American Charities for Reasonable Fundraising Regulation (ACFRFR) is changing its name and stated mission in anticipation of enticing members of other associations and nonprofit groups to join into a larger education and advocacy organization. It would be an unprecedented melding of mainstream nonprofit umbrella groups.

Renamed the Nonprofit Alliance (NA), this latest attempt to merge groups comes on the heels of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) earlier this year becoming a smaller entity within the Association of National Advertisers. The DMA’s Nonprofit Federation (DMANF) was part of that deal.

Such an organization has been discussed for about a decade at various fundraising and advocacy trade shows. The plan is to initially invite associations involved in fundraising, branding and advocacy then eventually create councils for accountants, attorneys and other professionals working in the nonprofit space, sources told The NonProfit Times.

Although most of the boards of organizations expected to sign on have not yet voted to join, a whip count by Nonprofit Alliance organizers shows support, according the NA leaders for background purposes.

Because there will be a mix of organizations with either 501(c)(3) or (c)(6) status, it is expected that the NA’s core operation will be a (c)(3) which will operate a separate but affiliated (c)(6).

Organizations in the mix for targeting for initial membership include the Association of Direct Response Fundraising Counsel, The Direct Marketing Association of Washington and the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association. Members of the DMA’s Nonprofit Federation will also be invited to join.

Another potential member target is the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers (ANM). Stephen M. Kearney, the organization’s executive director, said the ANM has not been formally invited to join the Nonprofit Alliance. He said he briefed the ANM board regarding the pending formation of the NA.

Kearney said it’s up to the organization’s 11-member board, which is comprised of nonprofits, to decide whether or not to join if or when there is a formal invitation. The organization does have commercial supporters but those are not voting board members.

Shannon McCracken, chief development officer at Charity Navigator since 2016 and formerly vice president of donor development at Special Olympics, will be NA’s president. She’ll initially work as a consultant. Donna Tschiffely, currently executive director of the DMAW under contract through her association management firm, is expected to be the chief operating officer.

Michael Thatcher, CEO of Charity Navigator, wished McCracken well. “Charity Navigator is sorry to see Shannon go and extremely proud of her accomplishments. We are excited for what her leadership will bring to the nonprofit sector and glad to have been a part of her journey,” he said via a statement. She officially starts the job September 1.

McCracken said that there are several large nonprofits and commercial firms involved in a task force to pull the concept together. It is in the early stages with many points that need to be worked out. She said there have not yet been formal invitations. There is an “unofficial” task force includes approximately people from commercial companies and large and small charities.

There is a larger group who have been contacted and say they support the idea but don’t feel the need to be on the task force.

The next few months will be developing a business plan and value proposition for potential members, McCracken said. Depending on who is discussing it, the plan is either still in its early stages or more developed than indicated. For example, the DMANF’s annual summer meeting is in Chicago next week. There will be a presentation to membership by the ANA. Minutes after that meeting the Nonprofit Alliance will hold a gathering at a nearby hotel.

There are nonprofit and commercial leaders who have “raised their hands” to become active in the development but that is still coming together, she said.

Getting nonprofit leaders to agree on some points might not be possible and Nonprofit Alliance leaders know that, she said. Lobbying around issues will be a focal point but equally important will be professional education and broadening from just resource development.

The current plan is that a majority of the board seats will go to nonprofits versus commercial members. There will initially be two seats from each council and at-large members. Details are still being worked out.

The idea is that the organizations would not keep their corporate entities but would keep the names as councils within the new organization. “All of the things they used to do would continue to be done,” said a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Those councils would not have any legal authority but members would have voting rights. There would be both corporate and individual memberships and how those voting rights would be determined is still being worked out, multiple sources told The NonProfit Times.

Revenue would come from dues paid by the members. Approximately $100,000 in seed money has been raised and there is a budget projection of $5 million within a few years, based on revenue from the initial members. Individual membership might be as little as $250 and commercial dues at $1,000.

Organizations can buy membership slots and plug people in. It’s still being decided if there should be a cap on the number of slots that can be purchased or the total number of votes from a particular organization.

Most of those providing information did not want to speak on the record because of financial consideration with the various organizations. “The working theory is that many of the federation members (DMANF) would join because nobody knows who is going to be left standing,” said one source regarding the DMANF. For example, several of the people handling advocacy and lobbying on Capitol Hill for the DMANF are no longer with the organization.