Save the Children and Merlin Join Forces

The international NGO, Save the Children, and U.K.-based global health nonprofit Merlin, have joined together to create one organization.

As of July 16, Merlin’s board of trustees stepped down, and Merlin officially became a part of Save the Children, under a new board. Merlin’s CEO Carolyn Miller claimed that the new organization would be a “global humanitarian health force” that would benefit from Merlin’s expertise and Save the Children’s heritage and reach.

The hope, according to Save the Children’s CEO Justin Forsyth, is that the two will become a stronger entity with each other’s help. While the transition is occurring, Merlin will remain a separate legal entity and a transition team has already been put in place to help phase Merlin’s oversees overseas program and head office into Save the Children. The process is expected to be complete in 18 months.

Some are concerned that with the combination, programs will have to be cut in order to focus on the overall goal of the new organization. However, one nonprofit partnered with Save the Children, the Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO), which gives aid to children in the Philippines, says it sees promise in the joining of the two organizations. In addition to giving aid to children, ZOTO also focuses on disaster relief, an area that new resources from Merlin will be able to provide help.

While the news of Save the Children and Merlin teaming up has attracted much attention due to the size of the organizations (Save the Children works in 125 countries, and Merlin has over 5,000 employees) this is certainly not the first time NGOs have partnered up in order to make more of an impact. Save the Children’s press release called the new team an effort for a sustainable future in light of the “tough external environment for NGOs.” The economy is picking up after the latest recession, but it is still tough for nonprofits to survive.

NGO’s are also in competition with each other as they start up and grow in popularity. As a result, many of the smaller ones are being engulfed by the larger ones. The larger ones will also subcontract to the smaller ones, leaving them only doing part of their work, rather than directly helping those they’re trying to help.

However, while this has happened in several cases, Oxfam International’s Chief Executive Winnie Byanyima, is hesitant to call NGO mergers a “trend.” According to Byanyima, nonprofits have been coming together for decades in the form of partnerships and NGO coalitions to work together in order to maximize their voice. Most NGOs are looking to do the same basic thing – to help people – and sometimes the best way to do that is to join forces.

– Emma McKay

Sources: Devex, The Guardian, World Crunch