Supporting Collaborations to Sustain and Increase Impact

Initiative Arizona Together for Impact
Grantee Partner Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits/Arizona Grantmakers Forum
Marcia Berger, Founder and former Executive Director of Arts for All, is shown with one of the program participants. Arts for All is now integrated into the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Disability Program Services.

Arizona Together for Impact is a funder collaborative — a collection of funding organizations aligned in support of nonprofit collaborations. Created under the umbrella of Arizona Grantmakers Forum and the fiscal sponsorship of the Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Together for Impact helps nonprofits pursue their missions through sustained collaborations including joint programming, shared office and support initiatives, and organizational integrations or mergers with other organizations.

Arizona Together for Impact works to create systemic change in the way nonprofit organizations across the state think about collaborations, partnerships and mergers. The fund provides tools and training to nonprofits interested in entering into permanent collaborations with one or more other organizations through small grants.

At every level, in every sector, collaboration is a catalyst for innovation, a catalyst for positive change, and a means to do more good work than any one organization can do alone. Grants from Arizona Together for Impact can facilitate, fund, and support strategic, sustained collaborations — which can take many forms — so that organizations can make a deeper impact. And, when organizations make a deeper impact, the entire nonprofit sector, and the community at large, become stronger for it.

The mission-oriented integration of Arts for All and the Tucson Jewish Community Center (the J) is just one example of nonprofits that became partners in an integration that is lifting the combined organization onto a higher and more sustainable path.

Marcia Berger, founder of Arts for All in Tucson, Arizona, took a long and thoughtful approach to planning how to sustain the arts accessibility program beyond her eventual retirement. In the process of meeting with board members and others who could advise her on a possible merger, Marcia Berger identified the Tucson Jewish Community Center as an organization with the same mission and values.

Detailed meetings with both parties followed with the help of a skilled paid facilitator, resulting in an integration agreement that was signed in November of 2019, with final integration scheduled for March 16, 2020. Then COVID hit and both agencies had to close their doors. Todd Rockoff, CEO of the Jewish Community Center said, “We thought it would just be a couple of weeks before we could re-open, but we jointly decided to pause the integration while we dealt with COVID.”

Between 2020 and 2022 obviously a lot changed. “The program we inherited and its financial position were very different than what it might have been in 2020,” said Todd. “But we were committed to the long-term viability of Arts for All and created a plan to bring the program to financial sustainability.”

The integration was completed on April 1, 2022. Essential to really becoming one agency was the technology to bring the data from Arts for All onto a single server and purchase a new phone system that would work between two locations. The grant from Arizona Together for Impact helped make that happen.

“The two organizations together have provided us the bridge to sustainability,” said Todd. Now the J has a department called Disability Program Services with two large programs—the arts education program Arts for All at its same Oracle location, and Taglit, the pre-existing day program for adults with disabilities housed at the J. “We have begun to work in an integrated way where the participants get to experience both locations,” said Todd. “And we have changed the hours to maximize our effectiveness and efficiency. Now we have the capacity to serve more people.”

“The integration has helped our organization because it deepens our commitments and deliverables for people with disabilities,” said Todd. Arts education is a strength to provide to Taglit participants and physical recreation can help the Arts for All participants. Todd concluded, “The marriage of these two strengths benefits the end user in a significant and profound way.”