Tech Impact is merging with its second nonprofit in two years - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 26, 2018 11:38 am

Tech Impact is merging with its second nonprofit in two years

The IT-for-nonprofits org's ED, Patrick Callihan, offered similar advice as he did in 2016: Organizations considering a merger should take things slow.

Tech Impact ED Patrick Callihan speaking at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in D.C. in Spring 2018.

(Photo via facebook.com/TechImpact.org; image has been cropped)

Tech Impact is getting a little bigger (again): The Callowhill-based nonprofit announced on Monday it will merge with nonprofit publisher Idealware on Oct. 1.

This is Tech Impact’s second merger in two years. In Summer 2016, the org combined with D.C.’s 501cTECH with a goal of maximized impact.

The mission alignment with Idealware is clear: Tech Impact provides IT services for other nonprofits around the country while also running programs such as the job-training IT Works. Meanwhile, Idealware provides “impartial, thoroughly-researched, and easy-to-understand resources” via reviews of, for instance, customer relationship management software, or niche fundraising platforms for different types of nonprofits.

Through the merger, Tech Impact’s clients will gain increased access to Idealware’s reports and trainings, and Idealware’s audience will gain increased access to Tech Impact’s capacity-building resources.

Tech Impact ED Patrick Callihan said he expects this merger to add about $500,000 in revenue to the organization’s current $7.4 million budget. Idealware has about three employees and a vast network of contractors, while Tech Impact has about 70 staffers.

“We knew that, in order to make a quantum leap in our impact, we would have to partner with organizations that share our goal of unlocking the power of technology for social good,” said Karen Graham, executive director of Idealware, in a statement. “This merger gives us the chance to do that. Plus, we gain some economy of scale, and a dream team of colleagues just as committed as we are to equipping nonprofit leaders with trustworthy, practical knowledge resources about technology.”

Graham is based in Minneapolis, but Callihan said distance doesn’t matter; Tech Impact has offices around the country (currently Delaware, D.C. and Las Vegas) and is comfortable with remote workers.

As we’ve heard many times before, mergers are complicated and take a damn long time. The big question to answer: How will these separate organizations be better together to make the process worth it?

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“It’s a year-long process, from the time you start having conversations to introducing board chairs to each other, thinking through what the outcomes of the merger would look like,” Callihan said, “and in the nonprofit world, there’s no financial gain from one side or the other, no shareholders, so really what we have to look at as leaders is, what’s the benefit to the community? Is there going to be a greater number of outcomes?”

Both factions have no immediate plans to change their business models; Idealware will be considered a program of Tech Impact, according to the director. The organization will spend the next year planning how to better integrate the two.

Callihan shared similar advice as he did after that 2016 move: Nonprofits considering a merger should take things slow.

“The best lesson is to take your time and go through it slow and make sure everyone’s aligned to the same vision,” he said. “It requires a lot of patience, but the benefits are worth it.” The merger with 501cTECH, for instance, gained Tech Impact new talent and allowed it to serve more nonprofits.

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