Forefront Launches Mission Sustainability Initiative

October 19, 2016

Forefront announced today, the launch of the Mission Sustainability Initiative (MSI) representing the first of its kind in the Midwest. Nearly 500 nonprofit professionals, representing hundreds of organizations across Chicago land area, attended the Mission Sustainability Summit held at the JPMorgan Chase Auditorium.

The Mission Sustainability Initiative’s aim is to help nonprofits consider and potentially pursue a variety of strategic restructuring options that can lead to greater organizational effectiveness and, most importantly, the sustainability of critical charitable missions.  The MSI will develop a programmatic approach to fostering ‘strategic alternatives’ among nonprofit service providers throughout the state of Illinois.

Moderator Eric Weinheimer, President & CEO of Forefront, was joined by panelists:

  • Jean Butzen, President, Mission+Strategy Consulting
  • Liz Connelly, National Segment Head, JPMorgan Chase
  • Gillian Darlow, CEO, Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Bob Harrington, Partner, La Piana Consulting
  • John Lipscomb, President and Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Alliance
  • Greg Petersen, Chief Administrative Officer, Keystone Alliance
  • Gretchen Slusser, Former Executive Director, CGLA

With 105,000 nonprofits organizations operating in Illinois – each seeking funding via a shrinking pool of grants, contracts, and donations – many suggest the time has come for groups to consider restructuring in an effort to bolster services, consolidate costs, and achieve better economies of scale. Weinheimer stated, “Springfield’s ongoing budget crisis continues to exert enormous pressure on nonprofits who are providing critical services to residents throughout the state. Now, more than ever, leaders in the social impact sector are receptive to ideas and discussions on how best to work together to weather these uncertain times.” 

It was noted that the MSI is not just about mergers and acquisitions. Rather, the focus is on all strategic partnership and collaborations including back office collaborations, shared programming, and strategic alliances.

Forefront modeled it’s MSI platform after successful programs in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. This MSI represents the first in the Midwest backed by a strong alliance of foundation and nonprofit leaders.  Weinheimer opined, “Our hope is that our MSI creates a safe and neutral space where nonprofits can get information, access resources and receive guidance about partnerships and collaborations.”  Panelists noted that successful programs in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia encourage sector partners to proactively pursue restructuring and merger opportunities to strengthen effectiveness, spread best practices and achieve greater sustainability.

Learn more about the Mission Sustainability Initiative in the weeks to come, including how nonnprofits can take the assessment and learn more about the fund at our dedicated page.

Forefront is the only regional organization in the country whose 1,100 Members are made up of both grantees and grantors, as well as advisors, social entrepreneurs and other allies.  Its mission is to build a vibrant social impact sector for all the people of Illinois.

The Mission Sustinability Initiative is made possible with funding by:


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