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All articles and quotes on this page draw from IVAR’s research, particularly from our work with voluntary & community organisations.


Is merger right for your organisation? If the answer is yes, where do you start? 

Merger in 2020


Thinking about... Merger, during Covid-19

Ben Cairns, IVAR | Lawrie Simanowitz, Bates Wells

01 June 2020

Thinking about merger in 2020

Ben Cairns

We have learned much over the last two decades about what makes a merger successful. How much can be applied in the current circumstances?

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Practitioner perspectives



Perspectives of practitioners who have led merger processes. We asked them to share their reflections for other leaders contemplating merger in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.


The success of mergers depends on a clear vision for the charities’ beneficiaries, looking beyond current staff and structures. 


Leah Swain

The basics

Why merge? 


Voluntary sector organisations start thinking about merger for two main reasons: as a response to funding cuts and anxiety about survival or when an opportunity arises to provide more and better services to beneficiaries. 


Vision first, structure second. Working towards a shared vision helps organisations to feel they have something to gain from coming together and, therefore, that some compromises are worth making. 

Even if you enter merger explorations on the back foot, preoccupied by survival rather than growth – it is still important to identify and pursue a positive agenda about change and improvement.

Hear from a recently merged organisation


We’re now a sustainable charity that’s delivering better services for our members and our beneficiaries’

Leah Swain, Community First Yorkshire

Hear from a lawyer

We’ve been working on mergers with Lawrie for over 10 years.


Lawrence Simanowitz is a partner at Bates Wells Braithwaite and has worked on 20-30 charity mergers, some of which involved hundreds of organisations. 


Usually, you look back afterwards and think ‘that was the right thing to have done’

Lawrence Simanowitz, Bates Wells Braithwaite

Further reading

Front cover image of Thinking about merger


Thinking about… merger

Eliza Buckley, Ben Cairns, Romayne Hutchison, Lawrence Simanowitz

Bringing together the experiences of voluntary organisations and advisors that have contemplated or carried out mergers

Learn more about IVAR