Mergers and Collaborations

Catalyst Fund
The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits is a unique five-year fund established to support collaborations and mergers in the Boston area.  Launched in September 2010, the Fund is a partnership of The Boston Foundation, Boston LISC, The Hyams Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and is managed by Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF).

The Catalyst Fund is a source of financial and technical advisory support as a catalyst for promising voluntary collaborative ventures and mergers among nonprofit organizations. It is a regional and national model, initially focused on support to Boston area nonprofits, with the goal of developing a permanent resource infrastructure to support nonprofit collaborations—rooted in best practices and data-based outcomes. The Catalyst Fund welcomes additional local, regional, and national funding partners. For additional information, funding inquiries, or interest in supporting the Catalyst Fund, please contact Peter Kramer, Catalyst Fund Manager at catalystfund@nffusa.org or 617-204-9772.   

Check out the latest publications from the Boston Catalyst Fund

AIDS Action Committee
& Fenway Health: A New Vision
for HIV/AIDS Services and Advocacy
The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits
Interim Assessment 
Merging for Greater Impact:
a Case Study of
Pine Street Inn and hopeFound 
AIDS Action Committee & Fenway Health The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits Interim Assessment Merging for Greater Impact: a Case Study of Pine Street Inn and hopeFound

WHAT DOES “COLLABORATION” MEAN?

The Catalyst Fund defines collaboration as a relationship between two or more nonprofits that:

  • meaningfully changes the way participating organizations do business for the long-term,
  • requires board involvement as a high-level, strategic activity, and
  • preserves, expands, or improves services to constituents.

What nonprofit mission areas does the Catalyst Fund support?

The Catalyst Fund is currently focused on supporting Boston area collaborations in the following mission areas:  arts & culture, community development, human services, and youth development. Please review our full Frequently Asked Questions document for further information.

How the Fund Works

  1. Technical assistance providers interested in participating in the pool of Catalyst Fund providers must respond to the Request for Qualifications found on this website.  RFQ responses are reviewed on a rolling basis for participation in the Catalyst Fund based on criteria found here.
  2. Nonprofits interested in Catalyst Fund support will follow the application guidelines found on this website. Nonprofit applications are reviewed based on the criteria found here.
  3. A nonprofit collaboration receiving an allocation from the Catalyst Fund will select their preferred technical assistance provider for the engagement from the pool of pre-qualified Catalyst Fund technical assistance providers. 

Process Map of Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits (CFN) Application and Intake

Process Image Map

Application Process

For Nonprofits

For Technical Assistance Providers

Background

  • Continuing economic challenges have highlighted opportunities for nonprofits to explore new ways of doing business, including pursuing collaborative ventures.  The Catalyst Fund was created in response to persistent inquiries made by Boston area nonprofits to funders in recent years for assistance with proposed collaborative ventures, including everything from sharing back-office resources to mergers.
  • The Fund is based on the principle that nonprofits deserve financial and technical support that is designed to meet the unique needs of mission-driven organizations rather than an approach borrowed from the for-profit sector.
  • The Fund recognizes that attempts by individual funders to support collaborations on a case-by-case basis are insufficient to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of Boston area nonprofits.