DMA, NFN Merger Talks Cool

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For the past year, talks between the Direct Marketing Association and the National Federation of Nonprofits regarding a possible merger between the two -- which would make nonprofits the largest special interest group within the DMA -- have heated up. But recently, a source involved in the ongoing discussions said the possibility of the merger happening now is less likely then it was two months ago.

"In November, I would have said the chances of it happening were about 90 percent," the source, who asked not to be identified, explained. "There is still ongoing dialogue and negotiations but because of disagreement over some issues, I think the chances are less than 60 percent now."

But according to Mike Faulkner, senior vice president for councils and affiliates at the DMA, the DMA and NFN, Washington, have been working together for years to find ways to better operate with one another, but there were no specific discussions about a merger between the two.

"There has been nothing heating up over the last year, at least not that I am aware of," Faulkner said.

But Lee Cassidy, executive director at NFN, an organization that specializes in lobbying for nonprofits on Capitol Hill and has roughly 400 members, confirmed that the two sides have been talking for about a year-and-a-half about the possibility of a merger, but said he doesn't know the outcome. "I would be surprised if anything happens in the near future," Cassidy said.

Plans were for the two to announce the merger this past summer. When an agreement couldn't be reached over a handful of issues, the end of the year became the target date. With no agreement reached by then, the two expected to make an announcement at the end of this month during the DMA's Nonprofit Washington conference. That date looks as if it will also pass with no announcement made.

Originally, it was reported that the NFN was not going to compromise over some issues, but in the fall the NFN announced that it would accept them.

"Now there are a bunch of new issues between the two," the source said. "They aren't as major as the earlier ones. Now people are getting into small details and that could blow it out of the water."

The merger would not actually be with the DMA. It would be within the DMA and create a new entity under its jurisdiction.

If an agreement were to be reached, each side would stand to benefit. The strength of the nonprofit members within the DMA would grow and the number of DMA nonprofit members would increase to somewhere between 500 and 600.

The DMA would enhance its nonprofit presence on Capitol Hill. The NFN also would help the DMA nonprofit council communicate legislative, postal and regulatory issues to its members. The DMA would provide the NFN with a number of conferences and seminars for its members to attend at discounted rates and provide more outlets for the NFN to communicate with its members.

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