September 1, 2008 | Case Studies

Getting to Yes: The Points of Light and Hands on Network Merger

Authors: Deborah Edward, Ph.D.

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The two organizations had evolved from different premises, and had developed different cultures and methods to meet a common challenge of engaging citizens in civic volunteering. Each of these national initiatives was making a difference in promoting volunteerism and supporting citizen service. Both had become more concerned about financial sustainability and impact in recent months. For five years the two groups had been competing in some areas, and collaborating in others, and the idea of consolidation was present. Merging the two national volunteer leaders could strengthen volunteerism, streamline costs and services, and deepen impact The upcoming retirement of the POLF CEO provided an opportunity to move the conversation toward action. But could they overcome the challenges of honoring the legacy of former President George H.W. Bush and the work of the Washington-based POLF while embracing the new social activism ethos and inclusive, grass-roots management style of the Hands On Network? Could the two groups together find a financially sustainable model and be even more effective in championing the voluntary sector. Could “1+1 = 5” ?

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