Building a Supportive Member Community

This month we launched our first monthly member call designed to give conveners an opportunity to share challenges with one another and gather support from their peers.  This month we explored:

  • Resources and practices for teaching self-care,
  • Challenges and opportunities in launching a new convening, and
  • When scaling a convening how to effectively gather participants from across sectors.


Resources and practices for teaching self care

Cassandra and the team from Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University posed the question of “how do we more effectively teach our entrepreneurs (and staff and other stakeholders) how to incorporate self care year round?”  This challenge was shared by Jill Ultan at the Skoll World Forum who shared some of the insights from the Wellbeing Project.


Incorporating wellbeing into your convening

  1. Provide space for mental and physical wellbeing practices including meditation, yoga, walks, dancing, and other activities that get people up and moving or thinking and reflecting.
  2. Select a venue that provides an environment to help participants recharge (beach, mountains, forest)
  3. Provide a circle of trust exercise each day to give participants the opportunity to connect and process their experiences with a small group of trusted participants.
  4. Encourage participants to show up and integrate both life and work in events – remove the barriers that challenge people to move between two spaces.  At convenings like Conscious Company Leadership Forum, Renaissance Weekend, Greenermind Summit, and Opportunity Collaboration – participants are encouraged to bring their families and show up as their whole selves.


Wellbeing frameworks that can be used in a curriculum

Image thanks to Franzisko Hauser
  1. To increase accountability in setting and achieving goals, it helps to have an accountability partner or a group where you can check in and see how you are progressing.
  2. Setting goals for Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Goals.
    1. Mental Practices may include: mindfulness, meditation, reading, writing poetry, playing games, practicing trivia, learning a new language.
    2. Physical Practices may include: exercise, yoga, eating well, learning a new skill, playing sports.
    3. Emotional Practices may include: therapy, reiki, connection with a mentor, journaling, spending time with family.
    4. Spiritual Practices may include: connection to a spiritual community, prayer, ritual, meditation, yoga, daily spiritual practice.
  3. Go through an established training like the Hoffman Process or the Rockwood Leadership Institute.
  4. Create a “personal board” in addition to your official board of directors.  Jessica Loman shared an insight from an executive coach about the importance of working with a personal board to provide advice and support when it may not be prudent to share directly with your board of directors.
  5. Financial self care is another critical element that can be a real challenge for funders.


Challenges and Opportunities in Launching a New Convening

Jessica Loman member of the Board for and student of integrative health at Duke University is exploring how to “bring together my worlds of health, movement, and investors I’ve worked with. When starting your first convening, how did you determine your target market? How do you maintain your relevance in the market over time?”


Review the market – make sure there is a real gap for you to fill

When GSBI started they were able to serve a population that was not being supported by the World Bank Development Marketplace.   When the Greenermind Summit Started it was a reaction against the traditional conference format of panels and plenaries – serving those who wanted a participant focused and co-created experience.  When launching a new conference you can think about innovation in:

  • The people you are convening
  • The place you are convening
  • The format you use to convene

Topher Wilkins of Opportunity Collaboration shared insights from the launch of the inaugural OC USA gathering.  “There were other great conferences looking at impact in the US including Ashoka U, USSIF, Independent Sector, etc. – they are great, but are usually looking at a specific demographic.  OC could cross those silos and apply our wildly divergent model of how we bring people together.”


Experiment, get feedback, and iterate

Jill Ultan shared that as the Skoll World Forum has grown and changed over the last 15 years “we think about piloting something and look at it with that lens of we are just going to test this out and see what works and what doesn’t.”  It is important when running a pilot to ensure that you get lots of feedback that help to iterate and take the innovation to the next level the following year.


It starts with a trusted community

As Scott Rehmus of Impact Journeys shared, “trust in my experience is the hardest thing to build.”  When building out a new convening, start with your friends – have a personal board or a founding partner council. It helps to create a community of allies who are bought in either because of their personal connection to you as the convener or their commitment to the cause. Your founding council is also an opportunity to build a diverse community.  Having allies who look like the community you want to build vested in the success of the convening sets everyone up for success.


When scaling a convening how to effectively gather participants from across sectors.

Pratik Gauri of Alexis Group asked our third question of the call.  “We’ve had very specific convenings focused on law or entrepreneurship or policy.  Most of our gatherings have been 200-300 people. We would like to host a larger festival that crosses all sectors, but how do you do that?


Create a founding partner council that represents the stakeholders you want to engage


Be clear in your communications who you want to have in the room

At a practical level Liz Maxwell shared, “make sure on the registration form that you have a drop down menu to track how participants identify themselves.”  Including in the communications language exactly who you want to have in the room, and why it is so valuable for them to connect with one another. Jill Ultan shared that they are very intentional with the Skoll World Forum to create the right balance between the different stakeholder groups.  The participants recommended that Pratik be clear up-front with which ratio of stakeholders he would want to include in the event.


Member Updates and Announcements:

Miller Center: Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County are partnering to run a San Francisco Bay Area GSBI Boost, a 3-day capacity building workshop specifically for social entrepreneurs that are impacting the lives of those in need in the Bay Area. The GSBI Boost allows social entrepreneurs to learn business fundamentals, improve their strategic thinking, and articulate a business plan that demonstrates impact and growth.

For more information and/or to apply, see the GSBI Bay Area Boost page. Applications are due June 1, 2018.


SOCAP 365: Quick follow-up things to share, here is our call for Local Event Organizers with SOCAP 365.

Along with the SOCAP Open being live, here’s a great blog post Lindsay wrote on fresh approach to curating SOCAP going ahead — you’ll appreciate, some new ways we’re thinking of organizing, hopefully will be more responsive to new types of formats, deeper sessions, better networking.


Thank you to our participants!

Pratik Gauri of Alexis Group, Avary Kent of, Jessica Loman of Duke Integrative Health Medicine Program, Scott Rehmus of Impact Journeys, Cassandra Staff and Dolly Ngo of the Miller Center of Social Entrepreneurship, Topher Wilkins of Opportunity Collaboration, Jill Ultan of Skoll World Forum and Liz Maxwell of SOCAP 365.