The governing boards of Orange County United Way and United Way of Dutchess County recently voted to join forces and become a merged organization.
"It is in the best interests of our respective communities that we voted to merge our organizations," said Sheila Appel, Chair of United Way of Dutchess County. "A combined United Way will enable us to better address pressing community needs in the areas of Education, Income, and Health and to improve the quality of services provided in both counties."
"A merger of the two United Ways can return more dollars to the community by increasing our organizational capacity through maximizing efficiencies and effectiveness," said Donna Benson, Chair of Orange County United Way. "A merged organization will expand the capacity of the generous financial support we receive from our donors to benefit many in need throughout our region."
Although the merger process will begin immediately, there is a great deal of strategic organizational work to be done which could take up to one year to complete, said Appel and Benson. This work includes gaining approval of the legal aspects of the merger that involve United Way Worldwide, the IRS, the New York Attorney General and New York Department of State. Organizational and operational aspects of the merger are expected to be completed within the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2011. A full integration of the newly-combined organization is expected to be completed within the first three years of the merger.
"Our community will benefit from a stronger United Way that will make a greater sustainable impact in improving people’s lives throughout the region," Appel and Benson said. "The new United Way will present opportunities for greater relevancy and broader reach, community impact, efficiency and effectiveness, and financial support which are important as we continue to effectively address our region’s needs."
Merger discussions have been taking place over the last two years and reflect the growing need among nonprofits to combine forces to make the greatest human services impact in their communities through organizational efficiencies that mergers bring about.
Over the past several years, the two United Ways have enjoyed a close working relationship through collaborations on marketing and community programs. In addition, a number of employers that run workplace fundraising campaigns to support United Way are common to both organizations.
The current staffs and facilities of United Way of Dutchess County and Orange County United Way will remain in place. No changes will take place in the operation of either county’s Annual Campaign, now in progress, nor will there be any changes in current funding to service partners, said Appel and Benson.