If you have ever been involved in the combining of two (or more) organizations, you probably already know that there’s a lot more that can go wrong than can go right. And nonprofits do not have a corner on the market of ‘failed’ mergers. The for-profit world has had some spectacular failures of its own in spite of millions spent on consultants and attorneys. So, what makes merging so hard and what are people missing? The answer is not always the same but, in many cases, the missing pieces can be summed up as “intentions, people, and values.” Bringing two independent organizational cultures together successfully probably has a slightly lower chance of success than completely random online dating. Consultants and attorneys tend to focus on things like due diligence checklists, which, while necessary, will miss analyzing the secret sauce in the respective organizations that will spell either success or misery. Before you spend a lot of money on lawyers and a lot of your own time digging up documents, start with some honest soul-searching and invite your would-be merger partner to do the same. You should each be willing to clearly talk about what you want from the potential merger – and leave nothing off the table. Be specific, be honest, and get personal. Too many merger deals are made behind closed doors and executives or board members are later surprised when the merged teams don’t work together productively. Nonprofits do not need to be worried about how Wall Street will react, so what do you have to hide? Laying out your intentions, involving your people, and talking about your values is absolutely essential to a happy future merger – or to avoiding a bad one.