Conference Planning Process

GEO’s conferences operate on a biennial cycle, where we hold our large national conference for grantmakers every other year. Years we do not hold a national conference, we offer two smaller topical conferences.

In 2017, we will offer our sixth Learning Conference, focused on learning and evaluation practices, May 31 – June 1, 2017 in Chicago. We will also hold a Leading Change Conference in Pittsburgh, November 13 – 14, 2017, to explore how to lead internal change efforts that result in better support to nonprofits. GEO’s 2018 National Conference will be held in San Francisco, April 30 – May 2, 2018.

About nine to 12 months before each conference, GEO issues a request for session proposals (RFP). We also engage an all-volunteer planning committee, comprising members from across our community to help:

  • refine the conference priorities;
  • provide input on the agenda, including networking opportunities;
  • curate the program by reviewing session proposals that GEO received through the RFP;
  • generate and react to ideas for plenaries and other sessions; and
  • evaluate the conference and offer upgrades for future events.

In selecting sessions for the program, GEO’s conference planning committee typically gives priority consideration to proposals that:

  • Present ideas that are applicable to a diverse community of grantmakers’ work (i.e., emphasize grantmaking attitudes and practices vs. funding specific issues)
  • Elevate grantee/nonprofit leaders’ voices and daily experiences
  • Are designed to allow attendees to hear from and interact with their funder peers (i.e. minimize traditional panels with no time for participant interaction; feature grantmakers who can speak from their own experiences)
  • Demonstrate diversity among speakers as well as the organizations they represent
  • Offer actionable information (i.e., sessions that provide practical information and give participants ideas about how to make concrete changes in their own grantmaking)

Attendance at GEO conferences is open to current GEO members; all staff and trustees of grantmaking institutions, staff of philanthropy-supporting infrastructure groups, such as regional associations of grantmakers and affinity groups; and staff of academic institutions and programs focused primarily on the study of philanthropy and the practice of giving.

Even outside of conference RFP periods, GEO is always open to hearing from our members about possible ideas for our events (e.g., speaker or topic suggestions). Please reach out to Akilah Massey or Nichole Hoeflich with any ideas — or if you have further questions about GEO’s approach to conference planning or to express interest in a future call for sessions or volunteering on a committee

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