We’ve had discussion this last month with three dramatically different trade associations that all shared a challenge: merging with another entity. One is going smoothly; one is having problems; and, one is a mess. Each of these actions is unique, of course, but everyone can learn from what I’ve seen done – and not done.

Many trade or business associations dissolved altogether during The Recession. Others cut back and survived. But of those surviving, the membership may have waned to the point that merging with another similar association has been the prudent path. Perhaps a chapter needs to merge with a state group.

It’s easy to dissolve. A board simply notifies the membership of the benefits of a merger, votes on it at the board meeting, and files the final tax return. Fill out the downloaded dissolution form designating where the remaining funds are to be transferred, and presto! Well, there are many details I’ve skipped over trying to keep this blog short, but, essentially, that’s the process.

Different dues levels and terms of membership, education and certification differences are apt to bubble up, and who gets to sit on the new combined board are just some of the decisions to be made. New bylaws, changes in the association’s website, staffing, even location are more boxes to check.

When drawing up the agreement, I urge you to have it overseen by an attorney knowledgeable in charity and trade nonprofit law. Even if you have educated experienced board members and staff, everyone’s busy and one critical task like not signing the document could cause major issues. Think that couldn’t happen? We’ve seen it.

Please call us if you want help with that checklist of vital merger tasks.

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