Breakfast Roundtables

We’ve set aside 8:30 a.m. to 10 am on Friday, the last day of the conference, so you can meet with colleagues to discuss over breakfast what we’re calling “hot topics”—trendy, maybe even edgy issues, affecting our work and field.  Get some food, find the session you want to attend and pull up a chair. If you have something else you want to talk about, not on this list, grab your own table in the ballroom and start a conversation that morning.           

Here are the discussion topics, names of hosts and meeting locations:

Contests and Challenges: Foundations are increasingly sponsoring contests and challenges to meet programmatic goals. Examples include the Gates Foundation “Grand Challenges Explorations” and the MacArthur Foundation “Looking At Democracy Challenge”. We’ll discuss key trends and lessons for Foundations. Hosted by Jim Cashel, chairman, Forum One Communications – LEONESA BALLROOM

Getting Going with Your Mobile Strategy: The use of mobile devices is fast increasing – to access emails, get information, network/share, watch video, and more. (Do you know how much of your web traffic today is mobile?) What can foundations do to reach and engage key audiences via mobile? We’ll discuss trends and actions foundations can take to be “mobile-first”, or at least “mobile-friendly!” Hosted by Chris Wolz, president and CEO, Forum One Communications – DISCOVERY

Visual Story-telling: the Blind Spot in our Community: Nonprofits have made tremendous progress over the past two decades by embracing the use of values-based messaging to connect with our audiences. We’ve learned to use research, and not just a gut feeling, to develop effective messages. But how do we choose the visuals that accompany our messages, or that populate our websites?  Resource Media’s initial research shows that nonprofits are still relying on that gut feeling. Advances in brain science show us that visuals are processed before any other information in any communique, and are perhaps the most influential communications we can deploy to reach people at an emotional level to act on a cause. How can foundations help nonprofits address this blind spot in our communication toolbox, and what are the most strategic ways to leverage photos and video for maximum communications impact and storytelling power? Participants will receive a photo album which introduces best and worst practices, and highlights of recent research, to spur our discussion. Hosted by Liz Banse, associate director, Resource Media – LEONESA BALLROOM

Save the Internet – Save Your Foundation’s Voice: As foundation communicators, we rely heavily on the Internet for most of our daily activity: routine communication, media and audience outreach, project management, research, publications, videoconferencing and just-about-everything more.  What if we woke up one day and found that our target audiences could no longer access our web-based information, or that the sites we use most to communicate had been censored or shut down? What if our grantees had to pay high fees to give and get access to information via the web?  If you’ve followed the battle over net neutrality, or the story of the SOPA and PIPA bills (and the Internet blackout protesting those bills), you’ll know these threats are real. Join this roundtable for a conversation about upcoming threats to Internet freedom that present a clear danger to our ability to do our jobs as foundation communicators; and help brainstorm solutions for protecting our most important communications asset. Hosted by Keneta Anderson, consultant Quixote Foundation and Yolanda Hippensteele, associate director, Media Democracy Fund – PORTLAND

Communications in the Developing World – a Roundtable Discussion With Experts: A number of us make a significant number of grants in developing countries, but the world of communications can be quite different in Africa or India, or even Europe. This roundtable discussion brings together communications professionals from around the globe to offer international perspectives on how to help grantees create and execute communications strategies.

  • Professor Ronel Rensburg is head of the Department of Marketing and Communication Management at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Her areas of research interest include political communications as well as health issues.
  • Matshisio Masire heads the new not-for-profit consulting partnership set up by the University of Pretoria with Baird’s Communication Management. She came from IAVI (a public-private partnership doing science and advocacy for an AIDS vaccine) and, before that, the corporate social responsibility groups at Coca Cola and Virgin Group.
  • Aman Gupta is the CEO of Imprimis, an Indian consultancy which works for several health, environment and social empowerment projects and which has a new group focused on the effective use of media in smaller cities and rural areas of India.
  • Mark Chataway is Co-Chairman of Baird’s CMC and CEO of Hyderus. Both are international communications firms. Based in Wales, Mark specializes in health and development-related marketing, with an extensive background in health and population issues in India and Africa. He has worked closely with the Gates and Hewlett foundations, among others.

 Hosted by Eric Brown, communications director, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation – LEONESA BALLROOM

Community Foundations and Marketing to Potential Donors: It’s that time of year…the leaves are falling and community foundations are rolling out our best marketing strategies for high net worth donors.  Join this roundtable to share your latest and greatest ideas for reaching, motivating, and connecting with those elusive potential donors.  As a side dish to this nutritious breakfast, strategies for working effectively with the increasingly frazzled fundraisers at our foundations are sure to be on the menu! Hosted by Rebecca Arno, vice president, communications, The Denver Foundation – LEONESA BALLROOM

Real Conversations Require More Than 140 Characters: While we can forge and foster some strong bonds over social networks, nothing can quite replace face-to-face interaction. Moving from Twitter to the tweet-up is a great solution.  A tweet-up –  a mash-up of the words “tweet” and “meet-up” – is simply a physical meet-up of people who know each other over Twitter.  The Social Media Managers in Philanthropy Virtual Tweet-up (wanted: a new name) has been meeting monthly via teleconference since January of this year. We started small, to test how effective this format could be.  Now, we’re looking to expand and we want you to join!  So, to find out how this group can help you be more effective in your work, join us for a real in-person tweet-up.  Come ask us and other participants how our tweet-up can help you. Hosted by Jenn Whinnem, communications officer, Connecticut Health Foundation and Elizabeth Miller, communications associate, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – LEONESA BALLROOM  (Session starts at 9 am.)

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask if Your Communications are Working: Are you having trouble determining the outcomes of major communications efforts  or campaigns that your foundation or grantees have conducted? Is your senior management wary of spending on communications because they can’t quantify the results? This will be an informal group conversation to help diagnose your issue and come up with some ideas on how to move forward, whether it’s a recent project, a current endeavor, or an idea that you have and just need some help to sell it up the organization, or to your grantees. Hosted by George Perlov, principal, George Perlov Consulting – LEONESA BALLROOM

Crisis Communications: Should foundations and the organizations they support prepare for communications crises? Yes, they should, and this discussion will help you think through what your foundation or organization needs to do to be prepared for an unexpected attack or misstep that could harm its reputation, brand, or legal status. This discussion will be facilitated by Stuart Schear, vice president for communications, American Jewish World Service, who managed his share of crises, when serving as vice president for communications for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. At that time in 2011, the leadership of the House of Representatives was trying to defund Planned Parenthood and was coordinating with right-wing activists who secretly videotaped Planned Parenthood health centers and released doctored tapes, supposedly proving that Planned Parenthood was involved in covering up sex trafficking of minors. Most foundations and organizations will never face such attacks, but everyone needs to think ahead by asking some basic questions: 1) Who are my controversial grantees and why? 2) Which interest groups might attack my foundation for the grants it makes? 3) What would happen if a member of your staff or one of your grantees abused funds or broke the law? 4) Could any of your grantees be sued and why? and 5) How well does information about potential risks flow in your foundation or between you and your grantees? Come to this session with your own questions and with stories about crises that you have managed. We all need to be prepared, and we will all leave with clear to do lists. Hosted by Stuart Schear, vice president for communications, American Jewish World Service – PRINCESSA I