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Stronger Together: All for Good Joins Points of Light Institute

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I believe all nonprofits are created with the best of intentions. While many groups accomplish tremendous things, especially in their early years, a large number go on to exceed their expiration date. Their efficacy diminishes over time, yet they persist often simply for the sake of doing so.

All for Good is young, but as we looked out toward the future, we contemplated an alternative path. We decided to explore the possibilities of attaining scale via a partnership with an existing organization, even a possible merger. Since nonprofits exist to solve problems rather than build bureaucracies, the notion of consolidation to cement our gains and improve our efficiencies seemed like a worthwhile option.

In the business world, this happens all the time. Some firms put themselves on the market when ownership wants an exit. Some companies seek to gobble up smaller players with attractive assets. In other cases, two businesses might discover mutual benefit from a merger that enhances the capabilities of both organizations.

I have lived through these approaches. As an executive at REALTOR.com (NASDAQ: MOVE), we enjoyed an IPO, then used the proceeds to acquire numerous companies. As the co-founder of Ethos Brands, my business partner and I decided to sell our business, Ethos Water, to Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) when the company offered a plan that promised to scale our social mission and expand our market reach.

Yet, this type of pragmatism often does not appear in the nonprofit field. There are more than 1.4 million registered nonprofits in the United States -- surely some of them would benefit from consolidation. In fact, some have suggested that its a good idea to put charities out of business. However, for a variety of reasons, investors (donors) and entrepreneurs (executives) typically frown on such mergers.

There are many reasons. The industry often is led by passionate hearts, not logical minds. A strong NIH factor seems ubiquitous. Yet such parochialism inhibits the sector, wasting energies and preventing progress. Groups interminably squabble over scarce resources and fail to create long-term change. I think we need to get past this impasse. Integration is essential and mergers inevitable if we hope to see efficiencies prevail in a field whose success is crucial to the restoration of many aspects of our society.

Thus, after several months of discussions, All for Good is proud to announce our acquisition by the Points of Light Institute.

This merger represents a huge win for AFG. It also is a victory for the field. Points of Light stands out as one of the most accomplished and imaginative nonprofit organizations in the country. It will be a terrific platform to scale All for Good into the next decade and the next century.

Points of Light is a long-time innovator that has demonstrated pragmatism in many areas. It originated based on a turn of phrase articulated by Peggy Noonan, a gifted speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, yet became one of the most enduring and laudable legacies of his presidency. In a fascinating (albeit unscripted) demonstration of nonpartisanship, POLI today is led by CEO Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sam Nunn, the venerated Georgia Democrat who served in the US Senate for 24 years. Under her watch, Points of Light has emerged as one of the leading service organizations and is seen as an innovator across the entire landscape of the nonprofit sector.

Points of Light already is among our largest data partners, providing tens of thousands of service opportunities to All for Good on a daily basis. Their network of volunteer centers creates a wide installed base of real-world locations that can leverage our activities and strengthen their communities. Plus, Michelle is widely regarded as a leader in the nonprofit space. Her personal and organizational commitment to building the field and strengthening the sector is renowned.

The acquisition initially should not change much. We expect the process to be completed in early 2011. As we move into the new year, the All for Good team will remain in place. Our board will continue to guide the effort. Our product will remain up and running with no interruption in service. And we will remain relentless in our focus on supporting the remarkable coalition of partners who make All for Good possible -- our data providers like Truist, Idealist, Meetup, AARP and many others; our distribution partners such as iVolunteer, Google, EIF, AARP, Huffington Post, Causecast, and others; and our financial supporters including Gap, P&G, AARP, Google, and Target. Finally, we will continue to support the Corporation for National and Community Service and their important public-faicng website, Serve.gov.

Indeed, Points of Light has expressed a firm commitment to maintaining our collaborative model as an open source platform of volunteer opportunities, aggregating content from a wide range of partners and distributing these listings on allforgood.org as well as across the Internet via our free API. By integrating All for Good into its portfolio of social enterprises, Points of Light Institute should be well-positioned to scale All for Good's mission, extend its distribution and drive operational efficiencies across the organization. This will allow our team to focus on what we do best -- code to improve our product and create value for the remarkable coalition of data and distribution partners who make AFG possible.

I wrote a post on the All for Good blog earlier this year. I paraphrased an old African proverb and noted that it is true that, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.

We are excited to go together with Points of Light. In 2011 and beyond.