Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative

Launched in response to the 2008 Great Recession by the California Community, Parsons, and Weingart foundations, the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative (NSI) is a funder collaborative that helps LA nonprofits pursue strategic alliances to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency. Known as strategic restructuring (SR), these partnerships typically culminate in formal agreements that combine some or all aspects of business, ranging from jointly managed programs or back-office consolidations, to shared ventures or traditional mergers. The initiative was established in 2012 with an aim to normalize long-term collaboration in the nonprofit sector – establishing an environment where nonprofits, foundations, consultants, and the academic community understand and regularly engage in the activity as a strategic tool for greater impact and sustainability.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

– J.D. Rockefeller


Today, the initiative is managed by Parsons, Ahmanson, California Community, and UniHealth foundations, with support from consulting project director Carrie Harlow and 14 additional funders. Through a pooled fund, the initiative supports SR through two types of grants ranging from $20,000 to $40,000: negotiation grants designed to fund external consulting services assisting two or more organizations exploring a restructuring agreement; and integration grants for one-time costs associated with implementation and integration. The NSI has supported hundreds of organizations exploring strategic alliances since its inception.

Responding to emerging trends in evaluation data and the sector, the NSI recently established an Executive Transition Pilot to provide two phases of funding to support a spectrum of transition planning, recruitment, and post-transition activities, including board development, search services, interim CEO engagement, and executive coaching. Recognizing that transitions are a regular part of organizational life, the cohort-based pilot offers peer learning opportunities and ongoing support for participating executive leaders. Pilot efforts will be evaluated, documented, and shared with the sector to illustrate promising practices, and determine future funding needs and support for these critical moments in an organization’s lifecycle. Learn more.

National Sustained Collaboration Network

Partnering with similar efforts nationwide (including initiatives in Arizona, Austin, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh), the NSI co-launched and is an active member of the Sustained Collaboration Network to share best practices, learning, and tools supporting strategic alliances. Learn more about the Sustained Collaboration Network.

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