Bravo, I Say! Bravo!
Let me raise a glass to the good folks at the DMA Nonprofit Federation for their truly well done Leadership Summit in Denver last month. Being as it’s a workday, it’ll have to be iced tea, but champagne would be much more in keeping with the degree of kudos warranted.
The conference was attended by a smallish group of nonprofit professionals ranging from the heads of development at organizations of all sizes to the top dogs at some of the sector’s most respected agencies, consultancies and vendors.
True, most of the industry conferences I’ve attended in the past two years have afforded attendees myriad learning and networking opportunities, and even the so-so ones have had a lot going for them.
But the structure, even for someone who has been in the sector for as relatively short a time as I have, tends to get old, with participants gathering in crowded rooms, session after session, to listen to speakers and maybe interact with them in brief Q-and-A periods at the end — if time allows.
In Denver, the group met for a plenary session, then broke into smaller workshops for down-and-dirty discussion periods where participants shared their experiences with and asked questions of their peers, and wrangled with implications and possible actions stemming from the main session. Afterwards, we reconvened, and the facilitator of each group presented his or her group’s insights and conclusions.
Then we did it all again. Each time, the workshops consisted of a different combination of participants with different facilitators.
The Denver gathering shook up the traditional conference model and threw folks into a merry mix that allowed for much more in-depth discussion, livelier conversation and, overall, a highly productive use of two valuable days.
And so I say bravo to the DMA Nonprofit Federation for taking a chance, breaking the mold and keeping it fresh. I can’t wait for the next one.