Skill-Building Workshops and Breakout Sessions for Fall 2012 Conference to be Announced Soon


At this year’s 2012 Fall Conference in Seattle, we are planning two kinds of small group sessions.

The first will be a series of pre-event workshops that will be held from 1 pm-5 pm on Wednesday, October 10, and before our conference kicks off that evening with an opening night reception at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These will be two- to four-hour training sessions focusing on skills we need in our daily jobs, such as messaging, social media tactics, evaluation, etc.

On Thursday, October 11, the second day the conference, we we will run three tracks of breakouts: one in the morning following Sherman Alexie’s talk, and two in the afternoon before we hear from Jane McGonigal. These tracks will feature a mix of three to five member-led sessions, each 90-minutes in length and running concurrently.

We are currently reviewing the many submissions we received for the training workshops and the breakout sessions and expect to announce our lineup by mid-July.

For the workshops, we’ve invited  proposals from consultants who have been working with foundations and their grantees for many years. The breakout sessions have been proposed by Network members and they fall into one of the six topic areas listed below:

The Program Officers Who Communicate
One of the most frequent themes that crops up during Network discussions is how challenging it can be to “make the case” for communications to program and other foundation staff.  But so many of us have met foundation staff from program, evaluation, leadership who really “get” strategic communications, and understand that no theory of change is complete without communications.  So, we want to learn from these folks—we want the ones who can tell us why they get communications, break it down for us a bit, so that those of us who still struggle with this issue can be better equipped with the whys and the hows.

Let Our Future Leaders Speak!
We want to make sure perspectives from all generations of communicators are heard!  And, we want the Next Gen to bust some stereotypes for us.  Are you all social media-literate?  Do you know how to write a press release and an op-ed, or is that sooooo 1990’s of us to ask?   What’s the most important insight you want to share with your elders?  What’s the most important insight you want to hear from your elders?  (We are asking “elders” to self-identify.)

Knowledge Aggregation and Sharing:  Does Anyone Know How to Do This?
There are some people out there who think that sharing knowledge is one of the critical pathways for a foundation to create social change.  But how do you do that?  Do you tell stories, do you share data, or do you do it all?  For this session, we want to hear from people who understand the intersections between data, targeted research, program evaluation, and communications who can give examples of how knowledge-sharing has helped foundations create change.

Mars/Venus or Separated at Birth?
We heard a lot of feedback from our conference attendees that the breakout sessions seemed targeted at “large, private foundations.”  Really?  Okay, then, here’s your chance to tell us what’s going on across the nonprofit sector when it comes to communications.

New (and old) Ways to Tell Your Story
Does anyone read annual reports anymore?  Is video, like, so yesterday?  How long is too long for a grantee story video?  What about the fun videos that only use animated words and numbers?

In Service to Generous Legacies: Our Stories and their Influence
Every one of us in philanthropy is able to do our work because of the generosity of people in current and past generations.  For community foundations, yours is the story of many donors, while private foundations operate within the story of a family, a business, or an entrepreneur. How do the stories of your foundation’s creation and funding influence your work?  How do you use these stories to expand your influence and reach, and to motivate others?

Leave a Reply