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Opinion | As Philly’s historical organizations struggle, partnerships are key by Nadya K. Shmavonian

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Via the Philadelphia Inquirer

In February, the Philadelphia History Museum announced its closure. And last week, we learned the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has laid off 30 percent of its staff as it searches for a viable strategic alliance. Philadelphia is the birthplace of our nation’s history, yet sadly we cannot sustain two vital cultural and academic centers to celebrate that rich legacy.

If these long-standing local institutions cannot survive with strength, what does that bode for the rest of the region’s nonprofits?

The answer is not a positive one. A recent report shows that 7 percent of the five-county region’s nonprofits are technically insolvent (including a whopping 13 percent of health and human services agencies) — and 25 percent of our nonprofits have less than one month of cash on hand.

To get in front of this potential tidal wave, the Greater Philadelphia Nonprofit Repositioning Fund was established in 2015 by a group of funders (now numbering 10) to support thoughtful exploration and implementation of strategic alliances among nonprofit organizations. These alliances represent a permanent change in the business models of two or more nonprofits seeking to enhance sustainable community impact. Each project we’ve supported represents a courageous willingness among boards and executive leaders to look beyond their individual organizational boundaries to place enduring achievement of mission above all else. A 2017 cultural community grant from the Repositioning Fund supported the merger of the University of the Arts with the Philadelphia Art Alliance that allowed the survival of a storied local institution — and building — of historical significance.  >>CONTINUE READING >>