The nonprofit landscape is perpetually changing and evolving. While funding is a constant priority, other issues present challenges as well. Addressing these, and providing grantmakers and nonprofit service organizations with the tools to stay relevant and effective, is a goal of the upcoming Viewpoints Statewide Conference, presented by Wisconsin Philanthropy Network (WPN), a nonprofit membership association based in Milwaukee. Slated for Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 in Oshkosh, this biannual event is Wisconsin's largest statewide conference on philanthropy.
The conference will feature nationally recognized speakers, offering thought provoking perspectives on topics affecting today’s grantmaking and nonprofit professionals. Opinion leaders will explore and debate some the most relevant challenges currently affecting our communities. It will also offer attendees the opportunity to network with hundreds of Wisconsin’s philanthropic leaders, strengthening existing relationships and establishing new ones.
The morning keynote session will feature nationally renowned speaker and preeminent blogger, Vu Le. Le is the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a start-up nonprofit with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color to impact the community. Le’s passion to make the world better inspired him to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. It was here that he learned an important lesson: We should take our work seriously – but not ourselves. In this opening keynote session, Le will focus on the dynamics between grantmakers and nonprofits, the damaging myths both perpetuate, and how each side must work more closely together. Le’s irreverent approach disguises his extremely serious, thought provoking and bold criticism of philanthropy.
In addition to running a nonprofit and speaking nationally, Le finds time to write a weekly blog, nonprofitwithballs.com, which has nearly 50,000 followers. According to blog follower, Jim Marks, Senior Advisor at United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, “I have found Vu Le’s blog to be one of the most insightful, interesting and provocative out there. He has a thoughtful and humorous way of challenging long held grantmaker assumptions that most of us are not used to hearing. It is refreshing to have someone take on the philanthropic establishment in such a poignant but respectful way.”
In addition to the hard-hitting and thought provoking morning keynote, the conference will provide morning and afternoon concurrent sessions. These address an array of timely and relevant topics, and even interject a dose of humor to the event. One session, featuring successful entrepreneur and speaker Daryl Price, takes a look at the morals and themes of Dr. Seuss’s delightful children’s books and art and applies them to the nonprofit sector. Price uses this platform to identify the basic qualities of a good leader and, more importantly, a leader people will follow.
Impact Investing: Do Good While Doing Well will feature a panel of foundation representatives including Jerry Roberts (Bader Philanthropies) and Kelly Ryan (Incourage Community Foundation). This session will explore ways that productive social change can be accomplished within a financially prudent philanthropic strategy.
Organizations from all sectors struggle with the dilemma of how to effectively host special events. Evaluating efficacy and true return on investment can be an ongoing challenge. Douglas Ihrke, Ph.D., Executive Director of Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has completed an extensive study on the use of special events. He will be joined on this insightful panel by additional members of the Wisconsin nonprofit community.
In addition to other breakout sessions, the day will conclude with afternoon keynote speaker, Jason Kotecki, author and light-hearted speaker who considers himself a professional reminder-er and permission granter. He will present his thoughts on how to learn the tools one needs to identify rules that don’t exist and tactics for breaking them with confidence.
The WPN 2015 Viewpoints Conference promotes not only the development of leadership skills, but a deepened understanding of the challenges facing grantmakers and nonprofit service organizations today. It presents creative and innovative solutions to the challenges facing Wisconsin nonprofits striving to enhance their communities.
This is truly a must-attend conference; not only is it Wisconsin’s only statewide conference on philanthropy, it is also the largest gathering of the philanthropic and nonprofit community in Wisconsin.
Registration is now open; Early bird reduced rates end Oct. 2, 2015. Visit wiphilanthropy.org/event/2015_viewpoints for more information.
Jill Van Calster is president and CEO of the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network
(formerly Donors Forum of Wisconsin) and Laura Worcester is director of development for the organization.