Acquisitions change just about everything

Acquisition: The discovery that you’re no longer a big fish in a small pond, or even a small fish in a big pond, but a small fish in a big fish.

That bit of advice was given by Randy Varju, president of Advocate Health Foundation, and Mark Larkin, vice president for philanthropy of CentraCare Health, during the 2014 Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference.

Mergers and acquisitions are going to happen, but Varju and Larkin advised that when such a move is contemplated, the following conversation starters be introduced.

  • History: What is the vision and mission of each merging organization? How many current donors does each have? Have they held capital campaigns? How strong are the annual giving programs? How many deferred gifts are outstanding?
  • Fundraising style: What solicitation methods are in place in each organization? Are programs run primarily by staff or volunteers? How much has been raised? For what purpose? What is the size and mix of gifts?
  • Volunteer involvement: How much does each organization rely on volunteers? What types of volunteer recruitment programs are in place? What level of responsibility is entrusted to volunteers, i.e., are they involved in decision making, program development and solicitation, as well as special events and clerical duties?