Helping non-profits and charities prepare for a merger discussion


There are 86,000 Canadian registered charities and over 80,000 non-profit corporations.  Canadian registered charities alone have revenue of over $260 billion per year. Funds and resources are not evenly distributed. Some charities are well funded and others not. Some parts of the sector have better periods and others worse. Changes in government can result in both funding changes and sometimes pressure to collaborate or merge. Responding to an evolving and increasingly competitive climate is vital for Canadian charities.

Some mergers occur because organizations work well together for many years, have great synergies and the merger is seen by everyone as a match made in heaven. Well, not all mergers happen that way – some see a merger as a simple way to avoid duplication and find out that the merger can be quite complicated. Other mergers are forced by funders or governments and the organization has little say in whether there will be a merger or not. Sometimes mergers are seen as a quick way for one group to grow, not through organic growth, but gobbling up other organizations. Sometimes miscalculations or poor due diligence when gobbling up groups can result in indigestion. Sometimes a merger is a merger of equals. Sometimes the one group that thinks a merger will just be a takeover of a second group but the second group is better prepared, has better governance, and ultimately takes over the first group!

There are many ways groups can collaborate and mergers are the most integrated form of collaboration. Mergers can be accomplished in a number of ways including by amalgamation, asset transfer or changes in membership. For many organizations, a merger is one of the most complicated transactions that they will be involved with.

This course will discuss:

  • The complicated environment facing charities and non-profits;
  • Diversity of charities and stakeholders;
  • Dealing with hard times and many options;
  • Governance and board responsibilities
  • A continuum of options in cooperation between non-profits including merger
  • Why consider a merger or amalgamation;
  • Problems with collaborations and mergers;
  • Questions to consider for a charity or non-profit merger;
  • Steps in a merger;
  • Mechanics of a merger
  • Corporate issues with a merger
  • CRA issues with merger

This course is meant as an introduction for Canadian non-profits and charities who are considering a merger or who are wondering about options when dealing with difficult times. It could be of interest to decision-makers such as staff, board members and professional advisors.