NORWALK, Conn. – There are Darien volunteers who won't have to turn away needy people from Norwalk anymore, the director of Person-to-Person Inc. said Tuesday.
Darien-based Person-to-Person is merging with Norwalk-based Christian Community Action as of Nov. 1. Although nothing will change for CCA's Norwalk clients for eight months, both nonprofits will experience immediate benefits, according to Person-to-Person Executive Director Ceci Maher and CCA Executive Director Christi Pope.
Maher said she told phone-answering volunteers Monday, the people who are routinely forced to say no to Norwalk residents. "They were so happy," she said. "They said this makes so much sense, we're really glad."
Norwalk residents who contact CCA won't notice anything, Pope said, but "fewer people will get the answer, 'No, we can't help you.'" She specified that while everyone gets food if they need it, CCA provides other services and "more people will get more assistance more quickly."
Funders are pressuring nonprofits with similar missions to merge to save on administrative costs, Pope said. The merger also means more buying power as items are bought in bulk. "You get better deals," she said.
Person-to-Person already has people "in the money-making business," Pope said, and she needed to expand the back office. "We had gotten to the point where in my opinion it would have been fiscally irresponsible not to merge," she said.
Person-to-Person recently received the highest four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
The Darien nonprofit reported $8.9 million in community support in its 2011 form 990 filing, and 14 percent went to Norwalk. It has a clothing center that gave out 50,000 bags of free clothing last year and helped more than 500 families with emergency financial aid, Maher said.
CCA gave groceries to more than 240,000 families last year, Pope said.
Person-to-Person Board President Wilder Gleason agreed the "skill sets" of both organizations merge will. "CCA has run a very successful furniture program," he said.
"Person-to-Person used to have one, we disbanded that a while ago,” he said of the furniture program. “We're excited about the possibility of bringing back the furniture program to serve a broader area than CCA currently serves. We think we can learn from them in doing that."
The staff at CCA will not change; it will stay in the same place, Pope said. It will be known as CCA, a program of Person-to-Person. The Fairfield County Community Foundation gave CCA a grant to fund a consultant for the merger, she said.