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The Lehigh Valley Synergy Fund

In a rapidly changing environment for the region’s nonprofits, long-term partnership can be an effective option to enhance performance for two or more organizations where the resulting whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. The Synergy Fund provides financial support to help sustain the long-term partnerships between and among two or more nonprofit organizations. Included in these collaborations are joint membership programs, management company models, joint ventures, federations, mergers, consolidations and acquisitions.

The fund aims to achieve the following outcomes in supporting long-term partnerships:

  • Reduced duplicative administrative costs
  • Increased mission impact
  • Increased the quality of programs in the region
  • Increased the overall long-term sustainability

Why are long-term partnerships important?

There are over 1,000 active nonprofits in the region that make significant contributions to the health, education, well-being and overall quality of life for Lehigh Valley residents. The nonprofit sector is important to our region’s overall success. But, a recent study, The Financial Health of the United States Nonprofit Sector, reveals the fragility of the sector: 7% are technically insolvent and 50% have less than one month of operating reserves. With limited resources available, it is imperative that organizations maximize their impact and strengthen their financial position at a time of rapid change and financial turbulence.

Types of Available Grants

For organizations considering or that have decided on a strategic partnership. Grants require a contribution to the affiliation, in kind, in cash, or in staff time, on the part of each participating organization. Partnerships are encouraged, but not required, to apply for each grant stage in progressive order, beginning with the technical assistance grant.

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE GRANT. Apply for up to $5,000 for an opportunity to work with a skilled and credible consultants to facilitate this first stage of partnership exploration. Final result, if successful, will be a non-binding Memo Of Understanding (“MOU”). Time to complete technical assistance grant stage: 60 days from approval of grant.

DILIGENCE GRANT. Apply for up to $10,000 for an opportunity to work with a “preferred vendor” list of skilled and credible consultants to facilitate a due diligence process. Following the diligence process, a binding MOU is required to enter the implementation grant stage. Time to complete technical assistance grant stage: 90 days from approval of grant.

 IMPLEMENTATION GRANT. Apply for up to $25,000 to be used to offset fees and additional costs to help finalize the merged organization. Time to complete technical assistance grant stage: One full year from approval of grant.

Costs that the funding supports

Facilitation of affiliations in the nonprofit sector, including:

• Legal fees
• Consulting fees
• Outplacement services
• Integration of technology, fundraising or other functions

NOTE: Grants will be given based on invoices submitted to the Synergy Fund after the grant application is approved.


How to Apply for the Synergy Fund:
 
1. Please contact Megan Briggs at meganb@lvcfoundation.org to set up an initial phone call regarding your interest in applying for the fund. Both representatives from each organization are required to participate in the initial phone call. 
 
2. After the initial phone call, if the project is a good fit for the Synergy Fund, you will receive an invitation to apply. Applications are received on a rolling basis. If you are interested in reviewing the application, Please download the application here.
 
Please note: you must be invited to apply for the fund. The application is posted here for your general information and guidance. 
 
3. Once a complete application is received, the Synergy Fund committee will review your application and materials.
 
4. Notification will be sent to each organization that is involved in project submission. 
 
If you have questions about your organization's eligibility or fit for the fund, please contact Megan Briggs, meganb@lvcfoundation.org.
 

Lehigh Valley Synergy Fund FAQ

Lehigh Valley Synergy Fund FAQ (PDF) - This FAQ provides background information that is helpful for understanding the Synergy Fund, the application process, requirements, and key definitions.


Resources for Long-term Partnerships:

We understand that long-term partnerships can be complicated and overwhelming! Below are a few resources to reference during your consideration of a Synergy Fund project:

La Piana Consulting: This link includes an array of tools, articles, and research on nonprofit collaboration and nonprofit mergers and alliances. Explore these resources to learn how you can use collaborative strategies to expand your reach, deliver more effective programs, create administrative efficiencies, and advance your mission.

Power of Possibility: This link includes a board discussion guide to inform and support your organization’s leaders as you explore the possibility of a strategic alliance or restructuring.

The Bridgespan Group: A curated series of cases and blogs that explores effective nonprofit mergers, looking at their rationales, catalysts, and results plus the challenges of due diligence and integration.
 

Questions/Technical Assistance

ASK MEGAN | Learn more about the Synergy Fund at LVCF and discuss your situation

Megan Briggs, Director of Community Investments, Lehigh Valley Community FoundationMegan Briggs
Director of Community Investments
Lehigh Valley Community Foundation
840. W. Hamilton Street, Suite 310
Allentown, PA 18101
610 351-5353, ext. 11 | meganb@lvcfoundation.org