Notes and Resources on Partnerships, Collaborations, and Mergers

1) Possible Legal structures (from the Nonprofit Law Blog)

  1. Written Contract: enforceable agreement with another party. Written contract stating each party’s obligations and promises. Term of the agreement.
  2. MOU (memorandum of understanding): where parties don’t want an enforceable agreement. Be careful of the wording so as not to be legally binding.
  3. Service agreement: one party provides services to another party in exchange for money or some other form of consideration.
  4. Mutual service agreement: each party commits to performing services, either towards a common class of beneficiaries or toward each other, without a transfer of money.
  5. License agreement: provides for one party’s right to use certain intellectual property of another party.
  6. Resource sharing agreement: sharing of office space, equipment, employees. Can trigger issues involving leases, insurance, licenses, permits, employees, and independent contractors.
  7. Fiscally Sponsored Collaborative: fiscal sponsor owns and is responsible for one specific project, but the parties assign individuals to collectively serve as the steering cmte to the project.
  8. Partnership: deep collaboration on one particular program, owned by both parties.
  9. Cross-sector joint venture: nonprofit in partnership with a for-profit, to take advantage of expertise and opportunities such as access to capital.
  10. Merger: Surviving corporation inherits assets of the disappearing corporation and its liabilities and obligations.

Local Resource: Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, UW-Madison School of Business

2) Standards of Excellence for strategic partnerships   (from The Arc)

3) Factors that make collaborations work (from the Foundation Center)

  1. Start small to set up a stable foundation for partnership work
  2. Talk … a lot! A partnership is a relationship. Be transparent.
  3. Set boundaries.
  4. Share resources, assets, connections.
  5. Go on a journey with your partners.

4) Developing a contract or written agreement for your nonprofit collaboration (from the Foundation Center)

5) Planning for Strategic Alliances (from Bridgespan)