Organizations Merge to Increase Impact of Non-Profits in Arizona

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AZ Grantmakers Forum and the Alliance of Non-profits recently merged. Kristen Merrifield and Laurie Liles will discuss the impact the organizations have on the community and what they hope to see from the Legislature. Kristen Merrifield is the CEO and Laurie Liles is the Chief Public Policy Officer & VP.

Why was the merger necessary?

“Something we had been thinking about and talking about for quite a while. If you think about it, non-profits and grant makers that support them and invest in their work, there is really two sides of the same coin. Both serving the same constituents, the same communities, and for a lot of reasons we thought that it was time they all be under the same roof,” said Liles.

What were some of those reasons?

“There are two sides of the same coin. You have the group of individuals who desires to serve the community through investment, through dollars and grants, and the non-profits who are actually doing the work in the community, but their relationship was very transactional. It was we need a grant let’s go to the funders who have the money and they will give the money. Instead of actually approaching it very collaboratively, let’s put these groups together around the same table and actually focus on what is a community issue we want to solve together. Grants and money are a piece of that, but they are not the whole puzzle,” said Merrifield.

This process and way of thinking helps make everything for efficient for both sides. “We hope so, more efficient and more transformational relationships, less transactional. Hopefully, we’ll start to break down the barriers, the power dynamic, that exist between those who have the resources and those who need the resources,” said Liles.

What was the dynamic before?

“It can be very intimidating, if you are a non-profit leader, to approach a foundation. There’s a mystery there, they have a lot of questions and they are afraid to ask the questions of the people with the money with power. We’re starting to have those conversations, and it’s really wonderful and gratifying to see those walls finally starting to come down and people really opening up,” said Liles.

Kristen Merrifield, CEO/ Laurie Liles, Chief Public Policy Officer & VP

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