Recently, TANO caught up with Tara Kirkland, Greenlights’ Chief Programs & Services Officer to talk about Mission Driven, a summit that will convene the best and brightest social changemakers, mission investors, and community leaders to explore bold, new strategies and partnerships that have the power to solve complex social challenges.
Read on to get Tara’s insights on the new opportunities the summit will present, what sets it apart from other conferences (Philanthropitch!), and how YOU can get the most out of this unique learning & networking experience. After you’re fully inspired, be sure to register for the Summit.
What is the goal of Mission Driven? Is it a shift from previous conferences/summits in the past? If so, in what way?
Our social sector is at a critical crossroad. The issues our sector is facing are too big and too complex for nonprofits to take on alone. Yes, nonprofit organizations are and will always remain at the core of tackling pressing social issues. But the work we’re trying to do also requires engaging broader mission-driven leaders who may not necessarily work at a nonprofit. I wrote a blog post recently about the shift from focusing on tax status to focusing on mission and purpose. And that reflects our thoughts on the conference as well.
There are lots of people working on similar issues and have similar missions, but are coming at the problem from different perspectives – let’s bring all of them together.
So the shift for us is that, in addition to the nonprofit leaders we served through the Texas Nonprofit Summit, we’re now also inviting funders and investors, government officials, and for-profit social entrepreneurs to be a part of the conversation at Mission Driven.
Who do you think will benefit the most from Mission Driven?
Anyone who is actively involved in addressing social challenges and is hungry for new ideas, new tools and new connections will get a lot out of the 2-day conference. Mission Driven will convene changemakers from across the social sector – nonprofit professionals, funders, philanthropists and individual donors, board members, and so on. And because of the audience diversity, people who are tired of “staying in their lane” with only other Executive Directors, only other Foundation staff, etc will really enjoy the opportunity to mix it up with leaders who come at the same problems from very different vantage points and roles.
What sets Mission Driven apart from other summits?
We are extraordinarily proud of the caliber of speakers we’ve been able to secure. When you look at the agenda, it stacks up quite well against premiere social innovation events on the West and East coast – and right here in our own backyard! This is such a great opportunity for Austin to continue to position itself as a social innovation capital.
We’ve got a great mix of national “leading lights” in the social sector (such as Bill Eggers, Cheryl Dorsey, Lenny Mendonca and others), along with thought leaders from right here in Texas. On Friday, in particular, we’re putting together a showcase highlighting Texas-based solutions including collective impact initiatives from Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, nonprofits scaling up in Texas and for-profit social ventures making a difference in our state and beyond.
Which speaker/workshop sessions are you especially excited for?
I’m really intrigued by hear more about big trends in financing, like Pay for Success, that have the potential to change the way social services are delivered in our sector. We’ve got a panel on the promise and the challenge of Pay for Success, as well as session exploring how Salt Lake County used Pay for Success and other initiatives to drive innovation and more effective use of data there.
And then because Greenlights is increasingly focused on leadership that crosses traditional sector boundaries, I’m particularly excited to hear what Lenny Mendonca of the Presidio Institute has to say about what social sector leaders need to succeed. Their cross-sector leadership fellows program is leading the field in that regard.
What do you think is going to be the most surprising/unexpected part of the summit?
Actually, there are a couple of big announcements in the works for Mission Driven, including one from us at Greenlights. But if I told you what they were, who would be surprised? J
Folks are excited about the Philanthropitch event. Can you tell us a bit about it and what sets it apart as a unique funding opportunity?
On Thursday, Mission Driven attendees are in for some fun! Philanthropitch International is a one-of-a-kind event featuring 10 social innovators from across the US and Canada. It’s like the Super Bowl of nonprofit pitch competitions. Anyone who attended Philanthropitch Austin in April should expect a similar evening with bigger visibility and bigger stakes. We’re bringing in the winners of fast pitch events from throughout the country to compete head-to-head for votes and thousands of dollars.
Nonprofits have just a few minutes to talk about the program or service that they’re looking to grow and answer tough questions from an esteemed panel of judges. The audience votes on their favorites and all the participants leave with visibility for their organization and cash prizes. Our very own Easter Seals Central Texas – the top winner at Philanthropitch 2014 – will be presenting Austin!
Register today for Greenlight’s Mission Driven Summit, and thank you to Tara and the Greenlights Team!
See you at the Summit!