I’ve been writing about The Collaboration Prize, the innovative competition sponsored by the Lodestar Foundation and the Arizona-Indiana-Michigan Alliance because of its impact on the knowledge of strategic re-structuring strategies for nonprofits. The sponsors announced the prize winners Mar. 6th this year. A grant of $250,000 will be shared between the co-winners: The Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas and the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo. But they were not the only winners in this competition; the rest of us now get to mine the wonderful data that remains from the 644 applications submitted to the Lodestar Foundation for the competition.

The real purpose of the prize was to learn more about nonprofit collaborations because so little research has been done about strategic re-structuring in the nonprofit sector. The recent study completed by the Bridgespan Group: “M&A: More Than A Tool for Tough Times,”  which analyzes the results of 3,300 nonprofit mergers, is hopefully a harbinger of what is to come in terms of new research studies on this subject. There has been very little quantitative research done on the results of the various SR strategies on nonprofit organizations. The new database that the Lodestar Foundation and AIM intend to create from The Collaboration Prize applications will significantly increase our knowledge of SR strategies for the sector. The database is due to be up and running by this June.

But there is some early information about the The Collaboration Prize applicants available on a great PowerPoint prepared by The ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation. This summary provides interesting details about the collaboration projects and there are some surprising details about the applicant pool. Of the 644 applicants, 173 met the criteria for the prize. Of the eligible nominees –

  • The two dominant forms of collaborations were mergers (25 percent), and Joint Programming Collaborations, 35 percent;
  • Sixty-four applicants provided detailed information about employees, most of whom increased the number of employees in their collaborations by an average of 15 percent since their inception;
  • Six of the sixty-four collaborations reporting employee details have experienced a decrease in their budgets since inception; but most have seen an increase, the average being 43 percent;
  • Forty-eight percent of the mergers submitted for the prize occurred in the last three years, unlike the joint programming collaborations which were spread out fairly evenly over the past eight years.

If you’d like to see the full Power Point presentation on the applicants for the prize, you can go here.  Happy reading!


imageJean Butzen, Mission Plus Strategy consulting, specializes in mergers and alliances in the Chicago area.

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