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2016 National Fundraising Conference

 Registration is closed for this event

Share. Listen. Receive. 

MIE 2016 National Fundraising Conference

July 21 – 22, 2016

The Hard Rock Hotel

Chicago, IL

Register and reserve your room by June 30, 2016, to be eligible to sign up for a mentor and for a StoryCorps workshop.

Join us for MIE’s Fundraising Conference, the one opportunity each year for those of us raising funds for legal aid to come together to Share, Listen, Receive, and improve the skills we need for successful fundraising in today’s competitive environment.  Plus, benefit from plenty of time for networking, and the opportunity to spend 30 Minutes with a Mentor.

Here is the conference program:

These great sessions are a few of the highlights of the conference. 

Opening Plenary

Becoming an Agile Fundraiser and Leader,

with Tasneem K Goodman, Managing Director, Akina, a GrowthPlay Company

Tasneem will:

  • Introduce a framework for self-assessment and reflection about one’s own leadership style, values and strengths, and an appreciation for how we fit into the big picture of the organizations we serve
  • Provide practical tools and tactics to help fundraisers create and deepen relationships which motivate people to action
  • Give fundraisers a foundation and skills to create new opportunities for partnership, idea sharing, accountability and support
  • Put fundraisers in a frame of mind to fill up our toolkit and spirit

In her role at Akina, Tasneem is committed to helping professionals and firms realize greater success and satisfaction by serving their clients well, growing their businesses through authentic relationships and leading their organizations with a spirit of generosity. Prior to joining Akina, Tasneem was a partner and the Director of Marketing at Katten Muchin Rosenman, a global law firm, where she led the firm's marketing and business development team, overseeing all aspects of the firm's marketing, business development, client relations and public relations initiatives.

(In 2013, you may remember that Akina brought us the excellent speaker Deborah Knupp in a very well received plenary!)


Special to the MIE National Fundraising Conference:

The StoryCorps Workshop

Participants will learn best practices for active listening, and storytelling. Learn how to ask great questions and structure a well-made story. Learn about the StoryCorps' process for recording oral histories and using the StoryCorps app. This workshop is also a brainstorming session for how to take the StoryCorps' model back to your own organization.

Friday, July 22, 2016, at 9:00 – 10:30 am, repeated at 10:45 – 12:15 pm

Each session is limited to 30 participants.

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives. The intent is to remind one another of a shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of the culture the understanding that every life matters. StoryCorps is creating an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.  Since 2003, more than 100,000 everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps, making it one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.


Francesco De Salvatore, the Community Engagement Associate at StoryCorps in Chicago, is an educator, oral historian, and documentarian. His work is focused on challenging and transforming historical narratives by compiling the collective knowledge of communities and centering the voices of those most marginalized in our society. In the past he has worked with young people all across the city of Chicago as a popular education facilitator for Chicago Freedom School and as a teaching artist at Free Street Theatre. Additionally, as a radio producer, he has had work featured on WBEZ, Vocalo, and WFMT. 

More Conference Highlights

Major Gifts Bootcamp

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to dig in to the essentials of major gifts fundraising. This interactive discussion will focus on topics central to closing major gifts – strategy, communication, case for support, volunteer involvement and advocacy, and stewardship. Donor motivation, recognition, and long-term engagement will also be examined. We all know that individual giving is up to 80% of the philanthropic giving pie; it’s time to get your slice.

Melissa Berliner, Vice President, and Caitlin Bristow, Associate Consultant, Campbell & Company

Trends in Legal Community Giving to Legal Aid - Strategies to Help You Successfully Engage Law Firms and Lawyers

What does it take to be really successful in generating consistent and substantial support from lawyers and law firms?  This panel of partners from supportive law firms and legal aid leaders will share insights into what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do to most effectively increase funding and from the legal community.

Endowments and Reserves

What are Endowments? Are they important?  Why do some donors resist?  What about Cash Reserves?  This session will examine and explain both of these fundraising resources – what they are, how they work, and when to start one.  We will discuss the situations that might lead up to starting an endowment or reserve, as well as how to use both of these types of funds to increase your fundraising, balancing the needs of your organization with your donor’s legacy and intent.

 Abbe Temkin is director of major and planned gifts for The Chicago Community Trust. Her responsibilities include charitable contributions, donor advised funds, supporting organizations and agency endowments. She works closely with the Trust’s Professional Advisory Committee and Young Professional Advisory Committee to provide resources and expertise to help meet their clients’ philanthropic goals.

Foundations - Expanding Support from Foundations by Researching Priorities, Building Relationships and Demonstrating Impact

Foundation revenue has significantly increased in recent years and can be a way to diversify funding, leverage other funding and fund innovative work and priorities. Panelists from foundations and legal aid organizations will teach how to identify foundations that might be interested in funding your work, how to take the initial first step to approach a new foundation, how to make the case for support by demonstrating outcomes and impact, and how to develop relationships with program officers so that support might continue.  

How to Most Effectively Engage the Corporate Sector

When goals align, corporations can be great partners on legal aid projects.  Learn to identify corporations that may be appropriate funding sources for your program, how to make an effective pitch and for what, how to work with corporations to maintain relationships, and how corporate support can be powerful beyond the dollars raised.

Telling Our Story and Inspiring Audiences

As fundraising professionals, we often find ourselves translating “legal-eze” into formats that donors can easily understand, quickly relate to and find inspiring enough to make a gift. We also understand the importance of creating a variety of materials (newsletters, annual reports, grants) that tell the story in between – or in support of – the asks we make. We hear that we need to make our materials “donor centered” but what does that mean?  Learn tips from others about how to tease out the story best suited for the audience you are trying to reach.

“Have to Ask To Receive:” Sharpen Your Skills in Making the Ask

“99 percent of fundraising is not asking but cultivating.” “You have to ask to receive.” “Donors are not ATMs.” We hear these maxims and we know that it is our role to ask for funds to support our mission. We support our boards and executives in their pursuit of contributions.  Yet how often do we pause to hone or practice our skills at asking for a gift? In this fun, fast-paced and interactive workshop, we will create a safe space to practice among peers. 

Intimate Events – For Cultivation, Fundraising and Stewardship

No ticket sales.  No big sponsors.  No raffle tickets or auction items.  No hotel ballroom with rubber chicken.  These are smaller, more intimate events where staff leadership, board members, prospects and donors have an opportunity to share, engage with each other, and deepen their understanding of and commitment to the cause and the organization.  In this interactive session, the facilitators will provide an overview of three types of small events, aimed at cultivation, fundraising and stewardship.  Participants will have an opportunity to begin planning their first (or next) intimate event, and then receive feedback from others in the audience.  

Fatigue, and Burnout, and Roadblocks, Oh My!

What development professional hasn’t experienced one, (or the whole host!), of these ferocious creatures in the course of their work?  This workshop will discuss how to overcome common roadblocks to achieving personal and organizational development goals and how to bust through plateaus.

Encourage a Culture that Supports Development

In this session panelists from three legal aid organizations will discuss how to encourage a culture of philanthropy by:  Assessing the culture in your first 90 days (and later); Promoting collaboration among legal aid staff attorneys, executive director and development director; Supporting the role of board members, volunteer attorneys and former clients as ambassadors for legal aid; and Sharing strategies for changing culture.

Find and Retain Donors

How do you identify current donors?  How do you find prospects?  How do you connect with and steward donors?  In this session, panelists will provide practical information and best practices in finding and retaining donors.  You will gain insight into how to increase revenue from the donors closest to legal aid – law firms, partners, associates and in-house counsel.

Develop a Plan for Annual Giving

Learn how to develop an annual fundraising plan that is donor-centric, focuses on motivating repeat and increased annual giving, and is measurable, repeatable and successful. Key topics will include: Setting monetary goals; Determining recognition levels; Reaching lapsed donors and prospective donors; and Using the best mix of direct mail, email, text, other online appeals and events.

Up Your Game: Major Gifts Fundraising

There is no substitute for developing relationships in raising dollars for your organization, and there is no substitute for major gifts in transforming your development efforts overall.  Come learn why major gifts are so powerful and how you can start asking for major gifts or reallocate your efforts to focus more on this critical area of development for your organization.  

Transforming Data into Dollars: Getting the Most Out of Your Organization’s Advocacy Work

This session will detail how to translate the results of your organization’s legislative and policy advocacy and community organizing work into successful foundation funding proposals.   We will overview the efforts employed by legal aid and access to justice programs who are leading in the area of advocacy and discuss how those programs have, and your program can, effectively move beyond individual casework metrics to provide funders with the measurable outcomes they’re looking for.

Identifying and Addressing Implicit Biases in Fundraising

Join us for an interactive workshop that looks at the issues of implicit biases that may affect our fundraising, leadership development and promotion of our mission of civil legal aid for everyone.  Nationally, grantors are self-reflecting on these issues and we need to as well. Our session will include a one-on-one conversation with Martha Bergmark, a legal aid pioneer, who can speak to overcoming many odds nationally and locally to fund and bring civil justice to our communities.  We will equip you with tools to assess where your fundraising shop can improve and create a more dynamic pipeline for change and funding.    

Inspire Giving Through Shifting the Conversation 

What if we talked about the work we do through a lens of strength, not sympathy?  What if donors saw the “clients” we serve as the people we are?  Come learn how the “I Am Somebody” campaign at Cabrini Green Legal Aid did just that, by sharing glimpses into the lives of people who will inspire you, enlighten you and – and at the same time open hearts and minds to the impact of the criminal justice system.  In this workshop, you will learn how to approach your fundraising through this method and expose new supporters to your organization.  

Create a Sizzling Comprehensive Development Plan (Before You Go Home)

You have spent a lot of time absorbing new ideas and best practices from your fundraising peers at this conference. You’re feeling inspired and buoyed. Will you remember all of it when you get back to your desk? Come to this final workshop before you go home. You will reflect and chew on where you can insert new ideas or tweak old ones in your own organization’s development plan. The workshop will be a guided facilitation that will also feature peer learning and “in-room mentors” to help. 

Also on the Fundraising Conference agenda: Assessing Your Fundraising Mix; Working with Boards; Endowments; Social Media; and more.

Don't miss - 30 Minutes with a Mentor - Sign up to discuss your most critical fundraising issue with another conference participant who has skills or experience that you need. Both mentors and mentees find this informal exchange of information to be very valuable. Conference Registration

Conference Agenda

Register and reserve your room by June 30, 2016, to be eligible to sign up for a mentor and for a StoryCorps workshop.

Registration:  MIE subscribers $465.00; nonsubscribers $565.00.

Room rates at the Hard Rock Hotel are $195/night plus tax, with free internet.  Reserve your room by calling 1-312-334-6767 or online at  MIE 2016 Fundraising Conference


Note:  Strategic Communications Training by Voices for Civil Justice - July 20, 2016, this preconference training is full.  

This training will include: 

•Building a consistent brand. You’ll learn why disciplined branding across the civil legal aid sector is critical for success, and how to incorporate consistent, research-tested language into all of your communications.
•Smart planning. The adage “failure to plan is planning to fail” is especially true in today’s crowded information market. You’ll learn a straightforward approach to communications planning tailored to advance your organization’s strategic priorities.
•Powerful, targeted messaging. The best messaging spotlights the importance of civil legal aid while inspiring and motivating key audiences. You’ll learn how to craft powerful messages using the Value, Problem, Solution Action (VPSA) model pioneered by the Opportunity Agenda.
•Coaching to get your individual communications projects on the right track to success.

The training will be led by Voices’ staff – Martha Bergmark, Elizabeth Arledge, Soren Rasmussen, and Camille Ward.  Registration is limited to 60 participants.


July 21st, 2016 8:00 AM to July 22nd, 2016 4:00 PM
230 North Michigan Ave.
Hard Rock Hotel Chicago
Chicago, IL 60601
United States
Phone: 617-556-0288
Event Fee(s)
Pick which day(s) you'd like to attend
Fundraising Conference, July 21 and 22, for MIE subscribers $465.00
Non-subscriber Fundraising Conference, July 21 and 22 $565.00