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Downtown Merger: Non-profit fusion – A Brilliant Necessity

By   /   October 16, 2009  /   Comments

Sometimes, the easiest of tasks can be so hard. Like merging Albany nonprofits, for example.

Sometimes, the easiest of tasks can be so hard.

Like merging Albany nonprofits, for example.

Earlier in this decade, there was an intricate, behind-the-scenes effort put forth to combine Thronateeska Heritage Center and the Albany Museum of Art. The Albany Civil Rights Museum also was invited into the mix.

At stake, in addition to the nonprofits’ survivability, was millions of dollars of sales tax proceeds to fund the organizations’ expansions. The idea was that combining resources could make the organizations more efficient and give them more pull in public and private funding. Stunningly, instead of merging their efforts, all three organizations received millions of dollars in sales tax revenues. It was a coup for the organizations, but certainly not for those who pay sales tax in the county. A lot more good could have been done for less money.

Now, with fabulous facilities in place (and, in the case of the Museum of Art, in the works), the Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska Heritage Center boards of directors have formed an operating partnership with the stated purpose of enhancing mission fulfillment and improving administrative functions of the two organizations.

We think this was an obvious, yet brilliant thing for the organizations to do. And we know it wasn’t easy. Some territorial rights – real and perceived – certainly had to be conceded by the two organizations’ boards of directors and administrators to come to agreeable terms on an operating partnership.

Already, the two entities have a history of successfully collaborating programming efforts. The new partnership goes further by blending the organizations’ accounting, education and maintenance functions to improve efficiency while maximizing their combined resources. Shouldn’t all public and private sector agencies be doing this?

It is important to note that Thronateeska and the RiverQuarium haven’t merged – yet. For now, at least, there is no co-mingling of operating, capital and endowment assets. That could come down the road – if economic conditions or the community’s concerns necessitate it. And for that to happen, this first step certainly has made it easier.

We commend and congratulate the RiverQuarium and Thronateeska boards of directors and administrators for unselfish, visionary, cost-containing decision on behalf of the organizations’ patrons and financial supporters, including Dougherty County taxpayers.

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