Saturday, May 12, 2007

A national consolidation goes awry

While the Girl Scouts of America's national consolidation process seems to be going forward as planned (with clusters of 4 to 7 local councils being combined into single new ones), the American Lung Association's effort appears to have gone off the rails.

The Chicago Tribune and the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported this week that 7 local ALA chapters (out of 78) have thus far decided to separate from the parent organization rather than be consolidated with others into regional units. The chair-elect of the Chicago chapter says it was a board decision: "We, as a board, believe such a consolidation to be not in the best interest of our lung mission and might undermine our local effectiveness." Of course that means the local group can't keep the name, so they are rebranding themselves as the "Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago."

According to the Chronicle, "Last year, 5 of 11 California affiliates of the American Lung Association — in Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose — severed their ties with the national association to become Breathe California." (Ouch: LA, San Francisco, Chicago and Silicon Valley adds up to a lot of deep local donors being taken away from the ALA.) Apparently after the California chapters broke off the national board voted to add a new clause to the affiliation agreement that would commit local chapters to leaving behind all land, buildings and so forth in order to leave. The Chicago and New Hampshire local boards have in effect told the national board where they can shove that pre-nup; more of that may be on the way in other states.

The Girl Scouts process, meanwhile, has sparked a series of top level staff changes with some local executive directors changing chairs and some newly-created CEO jobs now open.

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