Tuesday, 25 November 2014

To merge, or not merge. That is the question.

“Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel,” or so the song goes. If I’m honest, that’s how I initially felt when the merger between Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer was announced.

I’ve been here before, or so I thought.

Except this is different. Both internally and externally. When Merlin was taken over by Save the Children (over a year on, let’s be honest now), it felt very different. There was an undeniable (and understandable) positive spin throughout the process.

And while I’m still pleased that this means the Merlin legacy of health care can live on (as evidenced by the Save the Children EbolaTreatment centre in Sierra Leone), I can’t quite bring myself to be happy about what happened. 

But this merger between Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer? Well, it makes perfect sense. Two charities, with the same strategy, competing? No longer. And if that isn’t brilliant news for putting an end to breast cancer, well I don’t know what is.
Yes, there is uncertainty across the organisations for everyone. Will we have jobs? Who knows. Do I want to stick around and find out? You bet.
Being part of this well managed, well led, ‘absolutely makes sense’ merger is (almost – let’s not get carried away), a pleasure. It’s exciting, exhilarating and challenging – all in a good way.
And supporters? How did they feel? I can honestly say that there weren’t that many encouraging responses to the Merlin/Save the Children ‘merger.’
This time? Absolute understanding of why this is happening, delight that it is and lots of commitment to continue to support. It’s hard not to be swept along on that wave of positivity.

And me? Well, I have a wealth of learning from ‘the other one,’ that is proving invaluable. I re-read the post I wrote at the time and it’s still relevant. In fact, I’ve spent a few months reducing my circle of concern and increasing my circle of influence.

And being positive and optimistic? All over that one! It really is very exciting to be part of this great step forwards in breast cancer research.

Working across two organisations while we integrate and build our new charity won’t always be simple – but I’m determined to make it fun, focused and successful.

Let the hard work begin!

Danielle Atkinson


  1. This is not a first. Imperial Cancer Fund also merged with another charity. This prevented duplication of effort. Merlin and SCUK was different. Merlin was led to ruin by an ineffective CEO and a board of trustees that fell asleep at the wheel. As a result, it was not a joining of forces, merger or any other name the spin doctors put to it. It was a rescue mission by SCUK.

  2. The important thing in an charity merger is surely that the beneficiaries are the priority throughout and staff are kept informed and treated fairly. The problem with Save / Merlin 'merger' is that it seems neither beneficiaries nor staff were at the heart of it. Less rescue mission, more asset striping. Look at the places the Merlin had health programmes in July 2013 and the number of those countries Save are still running health programmes................