SONOMA COUNTY – Two Sonoma County nonprofits will merge operations and boards, a move that officials said will enable both organizations to expand services while becoming more efficient amid a challenging landscape for the nonprofit sector.
West County Community Services and Family Service Agency in Santa Rosa announced last week the two organizations would become one. The merger is expected to be completed by July 1.
The merger will enable the west county nonprofit to expand services eastward and the Santa Rosa nonprofit westward, particularly services involving senior counseling, bilingual services and mental health counseling, according to Katrina Thurman, executive director of West County Community Services.
In a letter to staff jointly authored by Ms. Thurman and Cynthia Weissbein, executive director of Family Service Agency, the merging nonprofits said the move will likely “create a stronger organization with potential to grow and expand the mission and services we have historically been able to offer.”
Ms. Thurman and Ms. Weissbein both cited economic difficulty as a key factor in the merger.
“All nonprofit organizations are struggling in this economy to preserve key mission-related services, and we are no exception,” the letter stated.
The recession has had a particularly crippling effect on nonprofits, which have three main sources of revenue: individual donations, corporate and business donations and government, all of which have been significantly diminished over the past few years.
“It was kind of a triple whammy in terms of how nonprofits get funded,” Ms. Thurman said.
Sherrill Stockton, senior vice president and SBA manger at Exchange Bank and the board president for Family Service Agency, said the nonprofit had been exploring a strategic alliance for the past year, citing the economic difficulty nonprofits have endured. The merger will enable both nonprofits to better address the need in services, which have diminished during the downturn.
“The precise time that the need is greater, the funding for it is less,” Ms. Stockton said, referring to budget cuts that have broad impact on the nonprofit sector, which often contract with county government.
Details of the merger are still being worked out, though most of the due-diligence required has been completed, Ms. Stockton said. A final decision on whether to rename the organization upon completion of the merger has not yet been decided.
West County Community Services has about 55 employees and Family Service Agency has about 28 full-time workers.
Ms. Thurman will lead the merged entity as its executive director. Other roles in the merged organization are still being determined.
Ultimately, the merger will create a more efficient organization while creating economies of scale, officials said.
“We are confident that our merged organization puts us in a substantially stronger position to weather the serious economic challenges facing our entire county, state and country,” the letter to employees stated.