‘Trustees should discuss potential mergers every year’

03 Jul 2019 News

Jill Thompson speaking at the ICAEW Charity Conference 2019

Trustees should hold yearly discussions on whether merging with another organisation would benefit their beneficiaries, the chair of a recently merged charity has said.

Jill Thompson, chair of the combined Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now charities, spoke about her charity’s merger at the ICAEW Charity Conference last week.

Thompson said Breast Cancer Care, which she chaired before the merger was completed this year, had originally discussed the benefits of a potential partnership as part of the charity’s strategic review.

She said: “Every set of trustees needs to be doing that every year. They need to consider ‘is it the best thing for our beneficiaries to continue alone or should we be considering a merger?’”

Thompson said her charity planned to change its “very long and stupid name” soon.

She said: “We’ve had a brand development group who have incorporated staff and stakeholders from all sorts of areas, including some of the trustees.

“And we appointed a brand agency and we have been working on that from day one and we are getting very, very close.”

‘A scary number’

Thompson said the boards of both breast cancer charities had to accept that merging would cost “a very large number” but that she expected there to be long-term savings as a result.

She said: “The cost of the merger is a scary number, I can’t deny that, and we will be disclosing it when we report in our annual reports.”

But she said the charities tried “really hard” to control costs such as accountancy and legal fees.

Thompson said the merger charity had tried to assess the potential savings it will make but that some of the benefits were difficult to quantify.

She said: “You can put a number on staff reduction costs, you can put a number on everyone being in one building, and you can put a number on some of the savings on no longer having to have two suppliers and hopefully getting some cost reductions because of a larger scale.

“But it is really much more about the fact that we won’t be competing with each other anymore." 

Thompson said in the past, the "pink fog" of the two breast cancer charities meant that even people raising money did not know which one they were fundraising for.

She said: “People have told me that they had done such and such an event for my charity, and actually it was for another breast cancer charity.

“We are hoping the clarity of vision and the understanding that there is only one of us now will help with our fundraising.”

Civil Society Media's Charity Finance Week takes place in October and this year the theme is Accounts and Accountability. Find out more about the events taking place. 



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