Chicago Cares and WomenOnCall, two nonprofits that match volunteers with nonprofits, are merging effective Jan. 1.
WomenOnCall, which matches skilled female professionals with nonprofits that need their help, will become a program called Skills for Good within Chicago Cares. Skills for Good will include men in the volunteer mix.
Leslie Bluhm, a daughter of JMB Realty co-founder Neil Bluhm, co-founded Chicago Cares in 1991. Margot Pritzker, who is married to Pritzker Organization CEO Thomas Pritzker, established WomenOnCall in 2006. Chicago Cares employs 33 people and has an operating budget of $3.3 million. WomenOnCall employs two and has a budget of $450,000.
“Chicago Cares is excited to bring WomenOnCall into the family,” Bluhm says in a statement supplied by Chicago Cares. “By combining forces, we will be able to enhance our efforts to build the capacity of local nonprofit organizations while bringing people together across lines of difference through the volunteer experience.”
“We see the great value that this merger will bring to our current nonprofit and volunteer members, as well as to the broader Chicago community,” Pritzker says in the statement.
The combined organization will have 35 employees and an operating budget of $3.6 million. Jenne Myers will remain CEO of Chicago Cares. Andrea Ziel, WomenOnCall’s executive director, will become director of Skills for Good at Chicago Cares.
Myers says WomenOnCall approached Chicago Cares in May to discuss pairing up. While Chicago Cares matches volunteers to nonprofits for projects such as resume preparation, planting community gardens and serving meals to low-income seniors, WomenOnCall matches lawyers, accountants, human resources specialists and other professionals with nonprofits in need of those services. Determining what the organizations need, and which professionals to match them with, is more labor-intensive, Myers says. She adds that neither Chicago Cares nor WomenOnCall are in financial or organizational trouble.
The organizations will merge their databases for an expected cost of $100,000 or so over three years. To help fund that effort, Chicago Cares has applied for grants from Chicago-based Forefront and New York-based SeaChange Capital Partners, two entities that encourage and offer grant money to nonprofits exploring strategic partnerships.
Chicago Cares will continue to host Find Your Cause, its annual volunteer-nonprofit match fair, and will most likely make it a twice-yearly event, Myers says. WomenOnCall will hold its final matching event, called Meet & Match, on Feb. 7.
Myers says she welcomes the chance to join forces with another volunteer organization. “It’s just fiscally responsible,” she says, noting that the merger will shave $200,00 from WomenOnCall’s budget thanks to shared office space and other efficiencies. “We’re not putting that strain on the fundraising world,” she says.
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