Our boards and staff have been in this focused discussion for eight months. We explored several options for working together more closely, and we’ve talked to our major funders, partner groups, and other stakeholders. The overwhelming conclusion from this exploration was that we should combine forces and, earlier this year, all three boards voted to move toward a formal merger that will result in a single organization.
Here’s why we think a merger makes sense:
1. Through increased local presence, we want to have a stronger influence on policy at all levels of government.
2. We want to build a stronger organization and increase our geographic reach.
3. We need to strengthen our grassroots engagement and involve a broader spectrum of the population to be most successful.
What’s in it for the Alliance? For starters, the opportunity to work on issues in parts of our region where we have not worked much because these sister organizations were working there.
By merging, we will gain members, a new office, and staff in Hendersonville, which will enable us to engage citizens in Henderson, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania counties in ways we have not before.
We will also gain new members in Highlands and Cashiers and begin work on issues there, hopefully so much so that we will be able to re-staff our Franklin office with a full-time person. That will allow us to better serve not just Highlands and Cashiers, but all of the far western counties. In short, a larger organization will have more resources and expertise to tackle local and regional issues better than each organization has been able to on its own.
A stronger, more visible organization will also more easily attract new members and help build a larger community of advocates for the protection of Western North Carolina’s natural resources and quality of life. We firmly believe that the whole will be more than the sum of its parts.
A merger does mean some changes for the Alliance.
First, while the new organization will be a membership organization, new bylaws will change the Alliance’s historical chapter/task force and board structure.
There will still be a way for people to come together around local issues, but those local groups will not necessarily be represented on the board. Instead, the new bylaws will require geographic diversity on the board so that all regions, especially those covered by ECO and J-MCA, are well represented.
Finally, while the merged organization will likely inhabit the Alliance’s corporate form, we will take this opportunity to explore a name change to reflect the merger and to better convey the mission of the new organization.
Questions? Contact WNCA Co-Director Julie Mayfield at Julie@WNCA.org, or WNCA Co-Director Bob Wagner at BobW@WNCA.org.
Thank you for being part of this exciting opportunity for WNCA and for our work to protect the mountains, rivers and forests of this beautiful region!