Guest Blog: Key Role of Corporate Communications During M&A Activity

This is the third in the series that explores the inner working relationship between a hospital foundation and its parent during a sale. The author, John Gilchrist, FAHP, CFRE, has lived through one nonprofit sale and is experiencing a second sale. His insights into this process can prove to be excellent counsel to an organization going through a merger or acquisition.

With the January 13 announcement, I took advantage of using the year end summary of giving to present the facts around the sale. As usual, every donor, regardless of amount, in the prior year received his/her summary of giving, along with the general stewardship report. In addition, a 2-page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) supplement was provided. If you would like a copy, please e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Patience is needed in preparation of these materials – the corporate communications team must approve any external communications after the announcement. One lesson for the reader to take: Use the January 31 deadline the Foundation normally notifies each donor who has made a gift of single gift $250 the breakdown of charitable gifts vs. the Fair Market Value (FMV) Foundation provided goods and services, i.e. how much of the event ticket is eligible for a federal charitable tax deduction, and use it as a prime communications vehicle.

I salute our corporate communications professionals for their assistance in preparation of the FAQ with the many pressures tugging at their schedules. Another lesson: the Foundation executive must lead in the process, but cannot do it alone.

With the communication priorities of employee, physician, and bondholder relations (and creditor committee in a bankruptcy filing) looming in a nonprofit hospital sale, every public communication must be vetted through the filter of the system’s public relations team, or in the case of a single hospital sale through its public relations.

Compiling the FAQ was no simple task, as the system could not provide any indication as to type of buyer: non-profit, for-profit, or governmental.

In the next installment, I will discuss what happens in a for-profit acquisition of a non-profit enterprise…and as always, your feedback, questions, and comments are welcomed.
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