Q-and-A With Peter Wilderotter, president and CEO, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
FS: What are some of the challenges of a merger like this? What are the benefits?
PW: The challenge is that the devil is in the details. The IRS rules make it cumbersome and difficult, bringing the donors along, working through institutional cultures and histories. The benefits are less duplication, strength in numbers and potential reach — messages to similar sized organizations.
FS: For organizations out there that might be considering a merger with another like-missioned organization, what advice can you share with them? What are some key indicators they should look to that will tell them whether a merger is the right thing for them?
PW: Getting the principles to agree and then their leadership to begin to put it on paper and be totally transparent in the discussions. Communication and perseverance and keeping eyes on the prize.
This simply doesn't happen enough in this sector and it must. Nonprofits have been growing as entities in far greater percentages than revenue has in the past several years. We don't need more nonprofits — we need more focus, dollars going directly to programs, etc. The founders of Life Rolls On — Josh and Jessie Billauer — are heroes, supermen, if you will, for putting program and community ahead of something they gave so much of their sweat to build. The Reeve Foundation intends to honor that extraordinary spirit by growing this program to new heights they never believed possible.