Cash Grants and Technical Assistance Available for AIDS Groups Seeking to Merge or Change

May 5, 2015

Financial and technical assistance is available for AIDS service organizations (ASOs) wishing to build strategic alliances or merge with other organizations to improve organizational sustainability and effectiveness within the new health care policy and funding environment.

Speaking at a National Center for Innovation in HIV Care (NCIHC) webinar, Vignetta Charles, Ph.D., senior vice president of AIDS United and member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, said health care reform and research developments, such as the increasing role of antiretroviral therapy in HIV prevention, had changed the context in which ASOs operated.

Some ASOs may find strengthening collaboration or merging with other organizations improves organizational sustainability and enhances client outcomes, she said.

The NCIHC and AIDS United are currently offering cash grants and individualized technical assistance to organizations wishing to develop new service models or engage in strategic restructuring efforts.

Assistance might include coaching from the executive directors of organizations that have undergone structural transformation, advice from lawyers in relation to contract development, help facilitating meetings between boards of organizations wishing to merge together, or assistance with joint strategic planning processes.

"The most successful partnerships that we've seen have been folks who've been open to both vertical and horizontal partnerships," Charles said.

Vertical partnerships might, for example, see ASOs integrating patient navigators within a large hospital structure and receiving Medicaid reimbursement for clients they bring to the hospital, while horizontal partners might see a number of smaller organizations consolidating administration and finance operations, thereby reducing overheads and increasing collaboration.

According to Charles, effective communication with clients, staff, executive leadership, funders and other stakeholders is critical before, during and after organizational transformation.

"You need to take care of your staff because staff are really what drives your organization to do the great work that you do," Charles said. "When you're doing any sort of transformation process and you're bringing in new staff or you're transitioning staff into new roles, this takes time ... The process can be really long and can feel really unstable for staff without appropriate communication, so to avoid staff turnover and low moral, which can be based on just the uncertainty of what this might mean, build opportunities for staff cohesiveness."

According to Charles, organizations might consider organizing a staff retreat or simply building in time at staff meetings to allow for sharing in relation to the change process.

Charles emphasizes that after an organizational transformation, as the dust begins to settle, it is important to ensure that everyone still knows who you are and what services you deliver.

"Marketing of that new brand is really critical because people don't always understand and people have busy lives," Charles said. "They're not always paying attention, so make sure that you're not losing your clients or your consumers and certainly make sure that you're not losing your funders, who may not be paying attention to something that seems as simple as a name change ... If they're not paying attention they may not realize they have a long history with you as an organization."

Although organizational transformation can sometimes be stressful or tedious, Charles encourages organizations to remember what it's all about.

"It might be scary but getting to the other side can really mean better services for people living with or at risk for HIV," she said.

The NCIHC is currently holding a series of webinars for Ryan White-funded ASOs and community-based organizations. Further information about the webinars and other activities is available on the center's website.

ASOs wanting to learn more about financial and technical assistance from AIDS United are encouraged to visit the organization's website.

Katherine Moriarty is a consultant and freelance writer, based in Vancouver. She has 10 years of experience in the intersecting fields of public health and community development, with a focus on bloodborne virus policy and programming.

Copyright © 2015 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

This article was provided by TheBodyPRO.


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