Ends in 3 days, 2 hours

** Deadline extended to Friday, July 26 at midnight EST** 

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is pleased to announce our 2020 National Conference, in partnership with Philanthropy Massachusetts, from Monday, April 27 to Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at the Westin Copley Place in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Program Content

GEO's volunteer conference planning committee is conducting a curated call for session proposals. You are invited to submit a session proposal using this online form by (Deadline extended to) Friday, July 26, 2019. Sessions selected through the RFP process include: 

  • Breakout Sessions: 75-minute concurrent sessions that are generally larger in size (around 100 participants). 
  • Post-Conference Workshops: 2-hour sessions held after the closing session on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Workshop sessions require pre-registration and are limited in size for a more intimate learning environment.

GEO’s 2020 National Conference will give participants the opportunity to engage with the perspectives, stories and experiences of peers on the same journey to improve. Through a mix of session formats, structured networking, and speakers from inside and outside philanthropy, this conference will offer the chance to explore the smarter grantmaking approaches that matter most to nonprofits, including:

  • Capacity Building: Strong programs exist in strong organizations, and capacity building allows nonprofits to build their skills and expertise to tackle important issues.
  • Collaboration: If we want to go far, we have to go together, and grantmakers who build productive partnerships (and support nonprofits to do so) see real change.
  • Flexible, Reliable Funding: When you give flexible, long-term funding, nonprofits worry less about their own survival, focus more on responding to shifts in their environment and create real change for the communities they serve.
  • Learning and Evaluation: When we adopt a learning mindset focused on continuously improving, we can use evaluation to focus on what we can learn from the data, push ourselves to experiment and deliberately look at failures as opportunities to grow.
  • Strengthening Relationships: We will arrive at better solutions when we build trust with and tap the knowledge of nonprofit and community leaders. Within this theme, the conference planning committee is especially interested in sessions that address power (How can we authentically find ways to share power with grantees and build more participatory processes in our work?) as well as the role of philanthropy in community (How should philanthropy engage with the people, organizations and communities working to effect change in their community?).

We’re identifying which practices best enable nonprofits to be successful and looking at what makes it possible for our organizations to change and adapt to the needs of the nonprofits we fund. We welcome session proposals that examine the connections between smarter grantmaking practices and these areas:

  • Culture: Productive grantmaker culture accelerates impact and creates the conditions for supporting nonprofit success.
  • Equity: No matter the outcome we are working toward, our institutions and systems were built to advantage some but not all – and data shows that inequities persist to this day.
  • Organizational Change: We’re exploring what it takes for our community to advance the productive change that we know leads to better results.

Submission and Review Process

Breakout and workshop sessions are selected through a two-part application process. In the initial application phase, share a high-level overview of the session idea. After the initial application phase ends, proposals will be reviewed by the conference planning committee and GEO staff. Additionally, session ideas will be added to a gallery where community members can up-vote sessions they’d like to see on the final program. 

Using data from the committee, staff and community review, select sessions will be invited submit a full session proposal. At the same time, we’ll notify those whose initial session ideas didn’t make it through to the second round. The full proposal will ask for more detailed information, including session format, timing, and content. This full proposal will then be reviewed by the conference planning committee and GEO staff. Selections will be made from a culmination of all rounds of review and input. The timeline for the process is outlined below:

The timeline for the National Conference is laid out on around an arrow graphic. It includes 5 steps. The first is "Request for Proposals Open (Closes, July 19, 2019)" Additional information is provided below that reads, "Submit a short description of your session idea." The second step is "Review Period (August - September)." Additional information provided is, "Conference Planning Committee and GEO Staff will review sessions" and "Sessions will be shared publicly in a Community Gallery for community input." The third step is "Request for Full Applications (October)." Additional information is "Approximately 80 sessions will be selected to complete full proposals." The fourth step is "Review Period (November - December)" and additional information is "Conference Planning Committee and GEO Staff will review full proposals." The final step is "Program Announced (January)," with additional information "Session Designers will be notified no later than mid-January." 

Submission Deadline: **extension** Friday, July 26, 2019 at midnight Eastern Time

Review Criteria and Selection

We expect to receive more session proposals than we can accommodate. We will accept about 35-40 breakout sessions and 2-4 post-conference workshops sessions to the final conference program.

Session proposals will be reviewed by GEO’s volunteer planning committee, staff and community members. Input from all groups will be used to make the final program selections.

Sessions will be reviewed in two stages. The initial stage will review sessions based on:

To increase thought diversity and leadership in our conferences, we will only accept up to two (2) proposals from the same organization. 

Session designers will be notified by early October if their session is selected to complete a full application. Session designers selected to complete a full application will also be able to attend a webinar with GEO staff on Thursday, October 3rd at 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST.


Having technical difficulties? Contact Submittable with technical questions.

Have questions on the form or conference process? Looking to submit your application via phone or another accommodation? Contact Emily Kepner at kepner@geofunders.org or 202.355.9535.