Publication Date

2001

Abstract

In this project, I have studied the specific situation of the organization Mercy Corps Bosnia. Using interviews, a questionnaire and a literature review as my research methodologies, I asked: What are the ingredients necessary for a successful alliance in the nonprofit world, as illustrated by the case of Mercy Corps in Bosnia? If the definition of a successful alliance is that it 1) produces, a sufficient return on investment, 2) creates added value for leadership, staff, and clients 3) retains a staff committed to the new organization and 4) documents lessons learned from the experience, then the merger between Mercy Corps and SEA is a qualified success. The leaders of the MC and SEA merger seemed ill-prepared to really address the changes that occurred. In addition to tips I discuss in this paper (preparation, participation, clarity, transition, and culture) I recommend that organizations systematically look at how the change brought by the alliance will affect the organization and its stakeholders. Second, leadership needs to question how the changes can be worked to create added value for staff, clients, and themselves -- changes in programming and services, in culture, in structure, and in procedures should be met by a corresponding level of capacity building for staff, leadership, and the board. Mercy Corps is known for being the first on the ground, for its entrepreneurial ideas, for "thinking out of the box." I hope my research will prompt Mercy Corps to develop its capacity for preparation, learning, and reflection in on-going and future partnerships, without losing the energy and imagination that make it a unique organization.

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