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MIE National Directors Conference: Strengthening Program Services and Sustaining Financial Health

Executive directors, join us in Chicago for MIE’s National Directors Conference “Strengthening Program Services and Sustaining Financial Health.” 

PLENARY: Breaking out of the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle to Better Deliver on Mission

Presenter: Marc Rahlves, Manager, The Bridgespan Group (

In the for-profit world, success can be measured by profits and the extent to which a company maximizes shareholder value. In the nonprofit world, where measuring social impact is far more complex, many nonprofits and their funders turn to efficiency ratios, such as overhead rates, to assess successful operations. This is the “Nonprofit Starvation Cycle” and it generates unrealistic expectations about how much it costs to run a nonprofit: nonprofits skimp on vital systems thus feeding the perception that they can run with almost no overhead.

The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle dangerously undermines nonprofits’ ability to deliver on their missions. Overhead and its role in enabling (or, in the view of some, limiting) social impact has gotten much attention recently. This session will put the overhead issue into the broader context, examining trends in government and philanthropic funding during the recession.

No one—nonprofits, funders and especially beneficiaries—benefits from perpetuating the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle, and nonprofit leaders and funders must act to end it.

Based on several Bridgespan articles (“The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle,” “Managing through Tough Times,” “Costs are Cool”), this session will highlight key themes from research and client experience and provide opportunities for audience interaction and discussion. Specific focus will be placed on:

  • Key trends in government and philanthropic funding
  • Dynamics of the Starvation Cycle and key recommendations to break out of it
  • Approaches for more clearly understanding full costs
  • Approaches for navigating conversations with funders about full costs

Marc Rahlves is a manager at Bridgespan’s New York office. Marc joined the organization in 2011 and advises leading nonprofit organizations and foundations on strategic issues, business planning, operational effectiveness and efficiency in the areas of education, health, and income generation. Prior to joining Bridgespan, Marc worked for the education nonprofit Escuela Nueva in Bogota, Colombia (named one of the Top 100 Best NGOs in 2012 by The Global Journal), where he was active in several senior management roles (CFO, CDO, strategy, international expansion). He holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and a BS in Business Administration (finance and information systems) from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Bridgespan Group ( is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. It collaborates with social sector leaders to help scale impact, build leadership, advance philanthropic effectiveness and accelerate learning. It works on issues related to society’s most important challenges in three primary areas: pathways to opportunity for disadvantaged populations, environmental sustainability, and civic engagement. Its services include strategy consulting, executive search, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.


Improved Data to Support Learning, Effectiveness, and Communication in the Legal Services Field

Presenters: Jim Sandman, President, Legal Services Corporation; David Bonbright, consultant to LSC on the project; and Colleen Cotter, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and member of the project’s advisory group.

Legal services providers have developed and implemented a range of improved data collection, assessment, and reporting tools and systems to support organizational learning, program effectiveness, and communication with external stakeholders. The Legal Services Corporation has received a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation to build on these developments and work with LSC grantees to gain more value from the data that grantees and LSC collect, use and share. This session will report on the current status of the LSC project, will seek the audience’s input on current plans and advice on future directions.

DC Legal Aid Update
Presenter: Don Saunders, Vice President, Civil Legal Services, National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

The Directors Conference opens with key information about resource and other developments affecting the legal aid community. With Don Saunders, Vice President, Civil Legal Services, National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

Thinking Big When Funds are Small: Strategic Service Delivery in Resource Scarce Times
Presenters: César Torres, Northwest Justice Project, and Cathy Carr, Community Legal Services.

When legal services budgets are shrinking and uncertain, the role of leaders becomes both more challenging and more important. This session will explore how to move programs forward constructively so as to best serve our clients and our missions with fewer resources and increasing demands for assistance. Making strategic decisions on what work to do, how to adjust staff resources, and how to maintain morale and productivity will all be addressed. With César Torres, Northwest Justice Project, and Cathy Carr, Community Legal Services.

Tough Times and Tough Staff: Finding Opportunities, Setting Expectations
Presenter: Adrienne Worthy, Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Without the flexibility that comes from stable or growing resources, how do we ensure effective services to clients by our staff members? The executive director’s challenges in successfully managing expectations and roles, experienced and less experienced staff, generations, and succession planning will be discussed. With Adrienne Worthy, Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Hitting the Hot Buttons: Representing Clients under the Affordable Care Act and on Immigration Issues — An In-depth Look

Come to this session for the practitioners’ advice to executive directors about effectively representing clients in these developing and important substantive areas.



Stay for the MIE 2013 National Fundraising Conference: How to Talk So People Will Give

When: July 18 - 19, 2013

Speakers include:

  • Deborah Knupp, Akina Corporation, a national consulting, training and coaching firm that helps professionals rethink relationship building to increase sales and organizational effectiveness.
  • Michael Hoffman, See3 Communications, which specializes in creating online strategies and websites that are channels for effective, donor-centric fundraising.
  • Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, a prominent pollster and political strategist; Mary McClymont, President, Public Welfare Foundation; Sandra Ambrozy, Senior Program Officer for Human Services, The Kresge Foundation, speaking on Increasing the Visibility of Legal Aid and Expanding Support from Foundations.

Workshops for all Legal Aid Executive Directors and Development Officers:

  • Situation Based Coaching to Build Lasting Donor Relationships for Long-Term Success
  • Expanding Support from Foundations: Making the Case that Civil Legal Aid is Smart, Results-Oriented Philanthropy
  • Sessions on Getting and Effectively Using Non-LSC Federal Funds
  • Communications Strategies that Complement Fundraising
  • Strategies to Engage Corporations in Our Work
  • A Workshop Specifically for Executive Directors

Workshops Designed Especially for Those Newer to Private Fundraising or Newer to Legal Aid:

  • Building Your Campaign Calendar
  • Implementing Your Campaign Calendar
  • The Bar and Beyond
  • Raise More Money with Volunteers

Workshops Designed Especially for Seasoned Legal Aid Development Staff and Executive Directos Engaged in Growing Established Private Fundraising Campaigns:

  • Where Are We, Where Do We Want to Go, and How Do We Get There: Fundraising Planning for Established Campaigns
  • Making the Plan a Reality
  • Major Gifts on a Dime — Developing an Individual Giving Program

We will continue our very popular 30 Minutes with a Mentor program. You may 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.

Visit our Training Page for more information:


The presentation by Marc Rahlves on determining full costs of programs was very helpful. Changed my perspective on how to manage program finances.

Overall, I thought the best part of the conference was the opportunity given to share best practices with peers.

A helpful discussion. I think there is much to learn when people from around the country sit and discuss how they are responding to the financial erosion of legal services.

Malou Roth was a dynamic presenter! The techniques on dealing with problem performers was delivered well. The checklist provided are helpful. Will use materials to do training of middle managers in the program.

Additional Information: 
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Registration Information

National Directors Conference: MIE subscribers $200; non-subscribers $300

National Fundraising Conference: MIE Subscribers $415; non-subscribers $515

Special Rate for Both conferences: $515 MIE subscribers $515; non-subscribers $715

Come with your team: $20 off second and subsequent registrants.


Rooms at the Allerton Hotel Chicago, 701 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, 312-440-1500, are $149/night plus tax, free internet. Reserve by June 25, 2013. Mention the MIE group.

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Event Details

Jul 17 2013 - 7:30am to 5:30pm
Chicago, IL
Event Address: 
The Allerton Hotel Chicago
701 N. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL
United States
Management Information Exchange
Patricia Pap, MIE Executive Director re: Directors Conference
Contact Phone: 
Contact Email: 
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Additional resources are available in our Library to MIE Subscribers. Click here to learn more about joining. Already a subscriber? Login above to access these additional resources.

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