In a recent “virtual” annual retreat, I facilitated a conversation on strategic planning in a fluid time. Even in this virtual setting, I was able to approach my work in the same way I always do: with active listening to my clients’ ideas and aspirations. What worked well for the group was:
When designing strategic planning or retreats, I typically work with an internal team—I like to call it a ‘design team’—to help shape the goals and activities of the event. Design teams are important in two ways: (1) they help inform me on organizational culture and norms I may not be aware of to create an event environment where all participants feel welcomed and heard, and (2) they create buy-in and alignment during the ideation phase that carries all the way through to the end of the event.
In a virtual setting, it can be tempting to delve right into the agenda and content. Yet, intentionally creating “extra” space and time on the agenda enables the group to tap into a more creative zone, one in which the energy and ideas will follow. In a recent gathering in addition to utilizing the engagement tools (polling, breakout, chat) found on Zoom, I utilized MURAL, a digital platform that enables real-time collaboration and creates space to enhance and connect imagination. Whether in-person or virtual, giving participants opportunity to dream and express themselves in various ways leads to better participant engagement and meeting results.
A knee-jerk reaction might be to replicate the in-person event as closely as possible in a virtual environment. Yet, this isn’t typically the best approach. In my six months of organizing virtual events full-time, whether they be 1:1 executive coaching calls, facilitating board meetings, or executing online strategy sessions, the critical element of the design is an exercise in subtraction rather than replication. It’s important to re-evaluate the objectives of the event and how to best meet those objectives in an online format.
In person or virtually, we all get to decide how we will gather and inspire each other. Here are five tips for making your Zoom meetings meaningful, inspired by Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering (scroll down for link):
For all families, especially those who are philanthropic, bringing values, vision, and family legacy to life has never felt more relevant—and pressing. Have you had these conversations as a family, board, or grantmaking group? If not, what are you waiting for?
As we enter into the fall and soon winter months, many families and philanthropies feel the need to reflect and connect even more deeply with each other and the communities they support. As your family foundation or collaborative takes this time to articulate or revisit your values and legacy, you may aptly wonder: “Where do we start?”
At CivicAIM, we work with families, foundations, and giving circles to get you started on the right path. If you are interested in learning how one foundation did it, I offer you my newest case study: Preserving a Family Foundation Legacy, Embracing its Future.
Anticipating its 25th anniversary, this foundation board wished to honor its legacy and plan for its philanthropic future. In the words of a long-time trustee and family member: “We needed to reflect on the past, present, and at the legacy values we want to pass on. We also wanted to transition our approach from a ‘giver of charity’ to a true community partner.”
Learn how the foundation, with CivicAIM’s guidance, brought its legacy and collective vision to life, and transformed its program areas and partnerships. Click here for the FREE download.
Giving as a family is a profound way to learn together and turn concerns into action, even when limited by social distancing and shelter-in-place. 12 Ways to Give While Social Distancing is a new FREE philanthropy learning kit for kids and families to use during and beyond COVID-19.
Looking for ideas to evaluate your grantmaking? Check out Designed to Learn, Evaluating Impact to learn how CivicAIM designed an evaluation method that helped a family foundation assess its true impact. Download your FREE copy here!
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, by Priya Parker. Parker offers a new approach to how we gather that will transform the ways we spend our time together – at work, at home, in our communities, and beyond.
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Dr. Hanson shares practical ways to develop well-being in turbulent times and build strengths into the brain to balance negativity bias with a powerful sense of resilience and peace.
CivicAIM is a philanthropy consulting firm focused on strengthening grantmaking, governance, and impact. CivicAIM supports mission-driven families, small-staffed foundations, funder collaboratives, and giving circles. Together with you, we develop and execute grant and evaluation strategies that lead you to impact, and we facilitate critical conversations and transitions that strengthen your board’s decision making.