JVS and Kadima Merger
JVS—a human services agency with a historic focus on employment, vocational development, and support for people with disabilities—and Kadima—a provider of mental health care, residential care, and case management—delivered a complementary set of services to members of their shared community. Both organizations are rooted in Metro Detroit’s Jewish community, and duplication of clientele and organizational infrastructure made it more difficult and less efficient for individuals needing support from both organizations to access help. Meanwhile, competition for limited resources created financial strain that threatened Kadima’s long-term sustainability.
JVS and Kadima determined that merging would enable a new organization—Gesher Human Services—to provide better services to people with disabilities and mental health challenges through coordinated vocational, residential, clinical, case management, and recreational programming. Moreover, this merger would create long-term sustainability and significant cost savings that could be reinvested into services, training, and other essential needs with the interests of people served in mind.
- The merger was financially efficient, resulting in more than $200,000 in annual savings from reduced liability insurance and facilities costs alone, providing more resources to serve clients. Gesher also was able to eliminate seven staff positions while successfully ensuring all current personnel were able to maintain their employment.
- Gesher Human Services benefits from the strengths of both JVS and Kadima, leading to improved quality. The creation of a new Department of Clinical Integration is ensuring full integration of vocational, clinical, residential, case management and recreational programming.
- The merger has freed more resources for training, compliance, and marketing, resulting in an expanded reach and improved quality of service.
When JVS and Kadima made the decision to merge their organizations into one new nonprofit, it was recognition of the fact that the two agencies provided complementary services to a population that shared many common traits and needs. By leveraging their combined strengths, the partners sought to provide a more comprehensive and integrated suite of services to their clients and community, while eliminating duplication of expenses and competition for resources.
A Capacity Building grant from the Health Fund helped JVS and Kadima smoothly combine their systems, infrastructure, governance, marketing, and cultures to build an effective, unified organization. As a result, Gesher is equipped to provide better services to job seekers, people with disabilities, and community members with mental health needs.
A few examples of improved services include: 1) extending a Creative Expressions program created by Kadima to include people with disabilities served by JVS, 2) providing job-seeking support to individuals in residential programs run by Kadima, and 3) deploying JVS’s electronic medical records system to support better care for Kadima clients.
Mergers are not appropriate in all cases, but they can produce significant benefits for organizations and the people they serve when the elements align. Staff driving the JVS-Kadima merger provided some recommendations and guiding principles that may be instructive for others in this position, including:
- Define a clear purpose and be guided by it throughout the process
- Expect a major commitment of time for board and professional leadership
- Plan, plan, plan: preparing for the fine details will support a smoother process
- Be transparent and communicate frequently and proactively to all parties affected by the merger
Though a merger can be difficult and time-consuming, when managed effectively with the proper resources, the result can be a stronger organization that is better able to fulfill its mission.
Gesher Human Services (JVS & Kadima)
Macomb, Oakland, Wayne Counties
Health Fund Investment