You asked, we’re answering. Association executives face complicated scenarios every day. One scenario that’s particularly hot is whether and how to merge with another association.
Our association has started to explore the possibility of merging with another association, but we’re not quite sure where to start. What do we need to know?
Two associations merging can often be a sensible idea for the members of both associations. Pooling resources through a merger can make for a larger and stronger association that serves its membership more easily and efficiently.
When starting those discussions, the road ahead can seem uncertain, and it can be difficult to figure out where to begin and what steps to take. Luckily, the National Association of REALTORS® has several resources available to help with the process.
NAR’s REALTOR® Association Merger Kit contains the merger procedure, a step-by-step guide, sample merger documents and helpful articles on guiding your association through a successful merger. We recommend sharing the Merger Kit with your leadership early in the process of a merger.
When beginning the conversation about merging, it is important to identify clear goals and desires on both sides of a merger. To get the ball rolling, each association’s leadership should talk about its hopes and expectations for the merged association. If a merger seems beneficial to both associations and the desire is to move forward, it’s generally a good idea to discuss the idea with your membership earlier rather than later. If members don’t feel like their opinions have been listened to and considered, they will be less likely to trust any part of the process and may ultimately vote against the merger for that reason. Transparency is the key to any successful merger.
Remember that no two mergers look the same. Each situation is unique in its challenges, and what can go smoothly in one merger can be a major headache in another.
Transparency is the key to any successful merger.
Sometimes associations fear a loss of identity when merging with another association. In those cases, the formation of a “chapter” within the new association structure might alleviate those fears. In other mergers, distribution of assets or the potential loss of the old association’s office space can become a major issue. When those kinds of issues appear, it can be a good idea to seek the services of a merger facilitator. Merger facilitators are neutral parties with experience navigating associations through this often difficult process. A facilitator can assist in reaching consensus on tricky issues while progressing forward in a timely manner. As a service to associations, NAR maintains a list of qualified merger facilitators in its Core Standards Facilitators Resource Database.
If and when the details are hammered out and the merger moves forward, you can lean on NAR’s Association Merger Procedure. NAR’s part of the process is mostly administrative; it largely consists of receiving record of a full membership vote in favor of the merger from both associations and with a quorum present.
As always, consulting your local legal counsel throughout the process is necessary, as state laws regarding mergers can vary quite a bit. For any other questions concerning mergers, feel free to contact NAR’s Member Experience team at 312-329-8399 or email@example.com.