Sessions

Session details


At-a-glance

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Inspirational topics presented with a philanthropy lens 
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Sessions focused on philanthropy’s fundamentals
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Sessions designed specifically with seasoned practitioners in mind

 

Monday, October 5

Legal Essentials for Private Foundations (Daylong Seminar)

9:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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Learn what the attorneys know! Look no further for a handle on the key legal requirements of private foundations. Join us in an interactive and engaging seminar that covers board responsibilities, managing liability, the private foundation rules, staying legal in grantmaking, and more. Explore the ins and outs of self-dealing and conflicts of interest, and how to differentiate between the two. Come away with a deeper understanding of the law and new confidence about how to operate within its bounds. This session is geared to those who are new to the legal requirements of private foundation giving, or in need of a refresher.


Learning objectives

By the end of this daylong session, you will be able to:

  • Describe the scope and details of fiduciary duties and the special “private foundation rules.”
  • Recognize potential legal risks, and identify when you need to do further research, put special procedures in place, or contact an attorney.
  • Make grants to eligible grantees with confidence and proper documentation.

Adaptive Leadership

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Adaptive leadership is a framework that can help individuals and organizations confront challenges they may be unwilling to face, and make the shifts necessary to be relevant and effective in pursuit of progress. This seminar will introduce tools to analyze organizational challenges (yours and your grantees’) and explore how you can catalyze change without getting sidelined in the process. This session is geared to seasoned philanthropists who are interested in adaptive leadership and its application to philanthropy.

Learning objectives

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Explain the essential tenets and approach of adaptive leadership.
  • Describe how an adaptive approach can strengthen your giving and benefit your grantees.
  • List practical next steps to exercise adaptive leadership to advance your philanthropy.

Assessing Nonprofit Financial Health

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Financials can tell an important story, providing insights about where a nonprofit’s money came from, where it is now, and where it might go. Learn to spot signs of financial health and identify red flags that warrant further conversation. Then test your knowledge by digging into a case study with your peers. Come away with confidence to gather important information and craft follow-up questions to strengthen giving decisions. This session is geared to those who are new to reviewing nonprofit financials, or in need of a refresher.

Learning objectives


By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Define basic financial terms including (but not limited to) balance sheet, cash reserves, receivables, assets, liabilities, liquidity, statement of activities, and budgets.
  • Identify signs of financial health and red flags that warrant further conversation with nonprofits.
  • Pose questions to inform your giving decisions.
  • Adequately review nonprofits’ financial materials and update future requests for financials.

Taking Steps to Increase Your Impact

All philanthropists want to have impact. But how do we know we’re making a difference? Could we be making a bigger difference? In this highly interactive session, explore philanthropy’s changing landscape and use Exponent Philanthropy’s “10-Minute Impact Assessment” tool to identify areas of strength and opportunities for increasing your impact, as well as get tips and resources for your journey toward greater impact. This session is geared to new or seasoned funders interested in a straightforward way to identify strengths and opportunities—and develop a high-level action plan—to further impact. 

Learning objectives

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the implications of the changing philanthropic landscape.
  • Assess your strengths and describe how you might further your impact by engaging in specific activities.
  • Develop a high-level action plan for furthering your impact.
  • Connect with peers at a similar stage who seek to grow their impact. 

Monday Site Session, October 5, 2015

1:30 - 5:00 p.m. > SOLD OUT

 

Building Nonprofit Capacity (Site Session)

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Investing in nonprofit capacity—the ability of nonprofit boards, staff, and volunteers to perform key functions such as budgeting, fundraising, and communications—can bolster organizations, furthering both their outcomes and your impact. Learn how a variety of capacity building activities can support nonprofits in reaching their full potential, and consider capacity building interventions that could amplify your impact. Hear firsthand stories of success and failure in capacity building from one local funder and its nonprofit grantee. This session is geared to those who are new to capacity building or interested in learning new ways to build a nonprofit’s capacity.

Learning objectives


By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe how capacity building can support a nonprofit’s infrastructure and effectiveness.
  • Identify ways that capacity building can be incorporated into your giving.
  • Hear firsthand how a nonprofit and funder collaborate to build the nonprofit’s capacity.

Co-opting Complex Learning Techniques for Impact

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More and more funders are engaging in complex, multistakeholder initiatives, and a practice called developmental evaluation has emerged to support learning in this environment. Funders are uniquely positioned to apply many of its techniques, including engaging key stakeholders, prioritizing deep knowledge and learning, recognizing patterns and making sense of them for real-time learning, and encouraging stakeholders to share challenges and failures.

Come to better understand the key components of developmental evaluation; identify the skills necessary to apply its techniques; and recognize and prioritize those opportunities that will increase your impact. This session is geared to those who are engaged in complex, multistakeholder initiatives and want to support learning and innovation to increase impact.  

Learning objectives

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Understand the key components of developmental evaluation and when it is most useful.
  • Identify the key skills necessary to apply developmental evaluation’s techniques.
  • Choose the scenarios, techniques, and skills for improving learning and increasing impact in your own work. 

Leveraging Communications to Achieve Your Philanthropic Goals

Increasingly, funders are leveraging communications to advance their philanthropic goals.  There are a wide range of strategies and tactics to choose from but without a clear plan for success you can drain scarce resources without achieving your desired results. Hear success stories and challenges from seasoned funders, begin drafting a communications strategy, and learn how to leverage specific channels. This session is geared to those who want to create or refine a philanthropic communications plan.

Learning objectives

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe how an external communications strategy can add value to your philanthropic work.
  • Begin developing a communications strategy to launch, guide, or improve your external communications.
  • Explore tactics for engaging your audience: the decision and change makers in your community or giving area.

Tuesday, October 6

 

Trustee Essentials for Foundations (Daylong Seminar)

9:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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Like all leaders, foundation trustees need specific tools to be effective. Learn the legal and investments basics of running a foundation, tackle governance issues such as setting direction and operating effectively as a board, and explore key issues foundation leaders should know to prepare for the future. This session is geared to new or seasoned foundation trustees and the staff who work closely with them.

Learning objectives

By the end of this daylong session, you will be able to:

  • Recognize what board members must do, and what may improve a board’s effectiveness
  • Describe the private foundation rules and recognize possible self-dealing situations
  • Understand the role of investment policies and key measures to manage investments
  • Identify actions the board can take to plan ahead


    Tuesday Morning Sessions, October 6, 2015

    9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

     

    Design Thinking & Philanthropy

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    Design thinking leverages empathy, creativity, and rationality to identify problems, generate learning, and craft solutions. How can you use it to enhance the effectiveness of your work? In this session, we’ll take you through an interactive design thinking workshop to learn how design thinking is being used to generate positive changes in the social sector, and consider possible applications for your philanthropic work—from the simple (a meeting agenda) to the complex (charting your theory of change). This session is geared to those who are new to design thinking, or new to its application to the social sector.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Explain the concept of design thinking.
    • Share two examples of how design thinking has been used for positive change in the social sector.
    • Identify practical ways to use design thinking in your philanthropy to reframe a problem, engage stakeholders, increase creativity, and introduce radical collaboration.
    • Seek additional information and resources about design thinking and its application to the social sector.

    Impact Investing

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    Impact investing is the practice of proactively investing in enterprises or activities that will result in social or environmental benefits alongside financial return. Industry experts and funders engaged in impact investing will share how to consider these investing opportunities. Participants are encouraged to review the new Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations in advance of the seminar, which we will use to demonstrate ways to integrate your mission into your investment portfolio. This session is geared to those who are familiar with the basics of impact investing.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Name a few ways donors and foundations invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures with potential for social good and financial return.
    • Make a compelling case for impact investing to those involved in your philanthropy.
    • Navigate opportunities for impact investing with greater knowledge and confidence.

    The Power of Very Small Funders

    Are you a foundation, individual donor, or member of a giving circle with $5 million or less in assets, and just one or no paid staff? Come to a session where you can explore with other very small funders the issues most on your mind—and craft a plan to address them. The topics, questions, and experience you bring will form the program of this dynamic session filled with peer-to-peer conversation, facilitated small group coaching, and tailored learning activities. This session is geared to very small funders, new or seasoned, who are interested in conversations with and insights from peers.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Construct a plan to address two priority challenges or opportunities.
    • Locate resources that can help you advance your learning about philanthropy or your field of interest.
    • Understand ways your philanthropy fits the larger universe of philanthropy by very small funders.
    • Meet funders with whom you can continue to share and network beyond the conference.
    • Be inspired by discussions with peers to advance your work and continue your learning.

    Tuesday Afternoon Site Session, October 6, 2015

    1:30 - 5:00 p.m. > SOLD OUT

     

    Social Entrepreneurship (Site Session)

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    Social entrepreneurship—pursuing innovative approaches to transform society for the better—continues to attract talent, money, and attention from all sectors. Using examples from local social entrepreneurs, we’ll examine the principles of social entrepreneurship and explore how it intersects with philanthropy. Meet grantees and funders working at social entrepreneurship’s leading edge, and develop a plan to support and practice it through your philanthropy. This session is geared to those who are new to social entrepreneurship or looking for inspiration from fellow funders and their grantees.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Define social entrepreneurship and describe characteristics of social entrepreneurs.
    • Seek additional information about social entrepreneurship and how it intersects with philanthropy.
    • Develop tangible ideas for how to support and/or practice social entrepreneurship in your philanthropy.

    Tuesday Afternoon Sessions, October 6, 2015

    1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

     

    Facilitation

    Meeting facilitation is a critical skill for effective philanthropic leaders—and a skill you can apply from any seat in the room, leader or participant. Being able to confidently lead and meaningfully contribute to meetings of all types strengthens your work and makes it more productive and enjoyable. Practice facilitation skills with supportive colleagues, troubleshoot challenges, and leave with concrete tools and frameworks you can use right away in board meetings, staff meetings, grantee convenings, and more. This session is geared to new or seasoned funders who want to lead or participate in meetings more effectively. 

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Prepare for, lead, and participate in all sorts of meetings more confidently and skillfully.
    • Use a simple, concrete meeting planning framework.
    • Apply potential solutions to common facilitation challenges.

    Women & Philanthropy

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    Women’s leadership, passion, and philanthropic efforts have undoubtedly shaped the broader giving landscape. Discuss women’s unique and expansive contributions to the field, both individually and collectively. We’ll consider the distinctions between women’s philanthropy and funding women and girls, the power of collective giving, trends in women’s philanthropy, and ways to move the field forward. This session is geared to any participant of any gender who is interested in learning more about women’s contributions to philanthropy and ways to advance giving by and for women and girls.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Recognize how women contribute to and influence the field of philanthropy.
    • Articulate key strengths of gender diversity in philanthropy.
    • Identify ways to strengthen your own philanthropy.
    • Describe strategies for investing in women and girls (internally and externally) to strengthen organizations and the broader field. 

    Bulls, Bears & Portfolio Construction 

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    The 2008 financial crisis and response by policymakers and central banks globally have created significant opportunities for disciplined investors; in fact, many say the investment landscape is significantly different from before the crash. Whereas navigating global markets is always challenging, risk management and careful security selection are particularly important today, as economic growth slows in many parts of the world but accelerates in the United States; oil prices plummet; and bond yields decline. What have we learned since 2008 about asset classes and how they can work together in a portfolio? Join investment experts as they share nuanced insights into various investment strategies and how to create a balanced portfolio to help you better weather market crises. This session is geared to those with a working understanding of investments.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Name ways each asset class adds diversity to a portfolio.
    • Describe the benefits and risks of asset classes, including the perceived risks of certain asset classes that can lead funders to shy away from them.

    Catalyzing Change in Your Community

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    Funders are catalyzing change on complex issues—especially in their communities—without a large staff to support them. For these funders, being a catalyst is a mindset, that empowers them to be passionate, curious to learn, follow the work wherever it leads, and take bold risks. This session is geared to new or seasoned funders who are interested in learning about the mindset and strategies that catalyze change.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Describe the mindset and practice of catalyzing change through philanthropy.
    • Name key features of catalytic work.
    • Identify an issue you may want to catalyze change on, and list three ideas for moving ahead in your thinking and planning for change.

    Grantmaking Essentials

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    Grantmaking is most effective when you have a process, but the process shouldn't overwhelm you or your nonprofit partners, or create barriers to learning. Find out how to develop a structured process that fits your mission, goals, capacity, and style of operating. Explore the power of focus and common strategies for grants administration and decision making. Investigate the importance of effective communications, building strong relationships with grantees, and ways to lend support beyond grant dollars. This session is geared to those who want to establish or refine a grantmaking process, or learn ways to incorporate more than money into your giving.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Understand that there is no one ideal grants process, and that the process you choose should fit your mission, goals, capacity, and culture.
    • Describe good practices and wisdom accumulated by experienced funders, and how these practices and wisdom contribute to impact. We’ll discuss the value of building effective, open, and trusting relationships with grantees; and the value of general operating support. 
    • Describe ten components of typical grantmaking programs.
    • Identify ways to streamline and how streamlining is valuable to funders and nonprofits. 
    • Catalogue your full array of assets and consider how those assets might be employed to fulfill your mission.
    • Understand that continual learning, adjusting, and iteration contributes greatly to effectiveness.

    Leadership Succession

    If you’re considering board succession or a staff transition, you’re not alone! Our members rank leadership succession as their top concern almost every year. Come to this session—whether you have a family, independent, or community foundation—to explore the possibilities and advantages created by planning for future transitions. Through an exploration of common dynamics and real stories of succession planning, you’ll uncover new insights and leave with tools and action steps. This session is geared to those who want to create or refine a plan for board or staff succession.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of this session, you will be able to:

    • Recognize common issues and critical dynamics in succession planning, and learn strategies to navigate your situation.
    • Identify practical tools and generate a list of next steps to establish or fine-tune your succession plan.

    At-a-glance

    Lightbulb icon
    Inspirational topics presented with a philanthropy lens 
    Book icon
    Sessions focused on philanthropy’s fundamentals
    Mortarboard icon

    Sessions designed specifically with seasoned practitioners in mind