Session Descriptions & Schedule

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The Oregon Nonprofit Leaders Conference brings together 350+ nonprofit leaders for educational sessions on current, relevant and inspiring topics facing nonprofits today.  The ONLC also provides a forum for nonprofit representatives to meet face to face with regional as well as local funders (mostly Oregon and Washington).

The conference continues to be produced by a volunteer committee of foundations and nonprofit representatives, and is underwritten by the generous support of local funders, both foundations and businesses.

2017 ONLC Schedule

Schedule of Events

Monday, April 10th

ONLC Location: Inn at the Commons in Medford, Oregon

  • 7:00 – 8:00     Registration and Complimentary Breakfast
  • 8:00 – 9:10     Welcome and Keynote- Vu Le
  • 9:30 – 10:45    Breakout Session 1
  • 11:00 – 12:15   Breakout Session 2
  • 12:15 – 1:15      Lunch (provided)
  • 12:30 – 1:00    Mini-Session on Oregon Retirement Savings Plan
  • 1:30 –  2:45     Breakout Session 3
  • 3:00 – 4:15      Breakout Session 4
  • 4:30 – 5:30      Wine & Cheese Reception hosted by the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) and the Rogue Valley Nonprofit Network (RVNN)

Tuesday, April 11th

  • 7:00 – 8:30     Leadership Forum Breakfast: Board and Staff together with (optional, additional cost – can be added during registration)
  • 9:30 – 3:30     Full Day Workshops (Lunch Provided)

Monday, April 10, 2017

8:00am – Keynote Address

Winter is Here – We Must Adapt to Fight the Ice Zombies of Injustice

Keynote Address by Vu Le, Nonprofit with Balls blog writer and Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corpsa social justice organization focused on developing leaders of color and organizations led by communities of color.

The nonprofit sector is awesome, full of smart, dedicated, and very good-looking people. However, the challenges nonprofits face are numerous and prevent us from being even more awesome. They include restricted funding, the myth of sustainability, society’s misconceptions and unrealistic expectations of nonprofits, bizsplaining, and crappy chairs. In this talk, we delve into how both funders and nonprofits perpetuate the nonprofit hunger games, the potential solutions, and why it’s urgent that we let go of the long-held philosophies and practices that have been bad for our sector and our communities.

9:30am – Breakout Session 1 Options

Hints for New Grantseekers: Is Your Great Idea Grant Ready?

New to grant writing? Need a refresher? This session is for you!

Learn current best practices for writing a proposal to fund your project. Get a clear idea of what funders look for when reviewing a grant application, and make sure you know what information is needed to ensure you submit a complete application. Develop strategies for presenting your proposal, how to present information about your organization, and clearly outline your project or idea. Learn more about the decision-making process foundations use when selecting which organization or project to invest in.

This is a popular returning session, packed with great ideas and insights.

Presented by Polly Williams


Casting Volunteers for Award-Winning Service

Do you make the most of your volunteers? Are they assigned to tasks that best fit their skills? Volunteers play an important role in our non-profits. Coach your volunteers into a deeper understanding of their role, and how it affects the larger organization in a positive way. Learn different ways to lead your volunteers to perform at their best, so both your organization and the volunteers feel the rewards of their service.

Presented by Torrie Allen

Meet the Funders – Session #1

Do you want to meet with foundation representatives that can help advance your program? At these popular “Meet the Funders” sessions you will participate in small group meetings with knowledgeable program officers. Advance prep work and registration is required.

Click HERE to read about the 2017 participating foundations.

11:00 am – Breakout Session 2 Options

Thanks for the Financial Statement, Now What?

Join this interactive finance session and learn how to gain a better understanding of the financial information you are given so you can share it with others. Explore different ways to present your Financial Statements through numbers, words and pictures, illustrating your position for different audiences. Plus, learn federal and state filing requirements, including new financial reporting requirements from FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) effective for fiscal years ending in or after December 2018.

Presented by Cheryl Olson, CPA, CGMA

Our Hiring Practices are Inequitable and How We Need to Change Them

The work done in our sector impacts more than the people our organizations serve. According to Vu Le, we need to focus more attention on our hiring practices, which, unfortunately, are often archaic, short-term focused, and contributing to the inequities so many of us are trying to address.

Vu believes we have been relying heavily on the for-profit world’s hiring model, which has not been aligned with our sector-wide values of equity and community. It leaves out too many good people, and it is time that we as a field examine and change how we hire people.

Without diverse voices, we are stuck talking about the same problems in the same ways. By applying principles of equity to hiring, we will not only move our individual organization, but our sector and profession forward.

Presented by Vu Le, Nonprofit with Balls blog writer and Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corpsa social justice organization focused on developing leaders of color and organizations led by communities of color.

Meet the Funders – Session #2

Do you want to meet with foundation representatives that can help advance your program? At these popular “Meet the Funders” sessions you will participate in small group meetings with knowledgeable program officers. Advance prep work and registration is required.

Click HERE to read about the 2016 participating foundation.



12:30 pm – Lunch Mini-Session

Oregon Retirement Savings Plan

Starting in July 2017, workers in Oregon will have a new, easy way to save for retirement. The State of Oregon created the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan for all workers who do not have a retirement savings option through their job. It allows employees to save part of their paycheck in their own personally managed accounts. Oregonians work hard for their money, and it’s time their money went to work for them.

Joel Metlen of the Oregon State Treasury will make a short presentation and answer questions about this new plan available in Oregon.

Oregon Retirement Plan

1:30pm – Breakout Session 3 Options

Earn More Ink

Why is it some organizations seem to get all the media attention? Because they know how to work effectively with reporters and editors.

Master the tools of the trade in this fast-paced, interactive presentation about generating positive exposure in all types of media. Understand what makes the news –and what doesn’t. Learn how to respond when you’re contacted, develop a strong interview, answer difficult questions and craft effective soundbites. Gain tips specifically for TV and radio and get inside advice on how to make reporters and editors love you.

Presented by Marilyn Hawkins

Changing of the Guard: Envisioning Leadership Succession

Your organization’s vision and success relies heavily on your executive leaders. What do you do if they leave? Learn what every organization should have in place to prepare for future executive leadership transition. Get your emergency succession plan in order too, in case the transition is sudden. Discover how to plan for the future and what worked for one organization that grew a leader from within, and another that found the perfect fit using an executive search firm.

Presented by Roger Hassenpflug

Meet the Funders – Session #3

Do you want to meet with foundation representatives that can help advance your program? At these popular “Meet the Funders” sessions you will participate in small group meetings with knowledgeable program officers. Advance prep work and registration is required.

Click HERE to read about the 2016 participating foundation.

3:00pm – Breakout Session 4 Options

Challenges of the Mature Nonprofit

Join our expert panel of seasoned board members and executive directors for a discussion about the challenges of established nonprofits.

Gain a fresh perspective on some of the issues mature boards can face. Learn different ways to approach the challenges related to succession planning, board and staff recruitment, and development. Explore ideas for successfully navigating your nonprofit through times of change. Gather some great ideas for reinvigorating your mission and reigniting board and staff enthusiasm.

You can participate by bringing your questions about some of the challenges your established non-profit is experiencing to our panel of experts.

Janet Troy will moderate a panel of experts including Brenda Johnson, Dan Thorndike, Gail Lopes & Jane Kenworthy

Strategies for Successful Events

Events are about so much more than party planning. Done well, they are a fun way to engage donors and others, and they can be an important source of income for your nonprofit. Done poorly, they are a tremendous drain on staff time and organizational resources.

In this session, you will learn how to decide what types of events are a good fit for your organization, how to create powerful and practical event plans, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of your events and their return on investment. From the “save the date” card to the “thank you for attending” follow up email, we will talk through the best strategies for creating events that are meaningful for your donors and helpful for your organization.

Presented by Doreen O’Skea

Managing the Early Years: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Starting a Nonprofit

Tips from successful non-profit founders on how to make your organization a success. Join our three panelists, with experience in nonprofit organizations meeting a wide range of community needs; including art, music,wilderness trail access and fair trade. Hear their stories, learn what worked and what didn’t, and get the inside scoop on the good, bad and ugly of building an effective nonprofit from scratch. Bring a few questions and a notebook for a list of helpful resources.

Brad Russell will moderate a panel of local experts including Gabe Howe, Dee Fretwell & Denise Baxter

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Optional Tuesday Morning Leadership Forum Breakfast

Leadership Forum Breakfast: The Donor-Centered Board with Penelope Burk

Leadership Forum Breakfast
Tuesday, April 11th
7:00am – 8:30am

The leadership forum (Tuesday breakfast) is designed for board members and senior staff. It is an opportunity to learn together. Because nonprofit board members may not have time to attend the entire conference, this forum is offered as a separate event –you can attend just this one event or combine it with a full conference registration. In either case, with her engaging and energizing style, Penelope Burk will give nonprofit leaders an inspiring start to the day.

7:00am – 8:30am –  (optional, additional cost – can be added during registration)

The Donor-Centered Board

The Donor-Centered Board is a practical remedy for Boards of Directors that are under-engaged in fundraising or focusing their time and energy in less productive directions. Led by renowned author and trainer, Penelope Burk, this interactive forum demonstrates how any Board or individual member can have a profound impact on the bottom line by engaging in activities that are both appealing and rewarding. The Donor-Centered Board builds confidence among the team while demonstrating how the Board, CEO and Development staff – despite their varied responsibilities – are all essential to fundraising success.

Presented by Penelope Burk

Please note:

Registration fee: $20 per person
There are no early bird or group discounts available.
Conference attendance is not required to attend this event.
A separate registration/fee is required for this event.
The fee includes the cost of breakfast.

9:30am – 3:30pm – Full Day Workshops

Many Hands, One Vision: Exploring Strategic Planning Through an Equity Lens

Are you looking to create a strategic plan for your organization that won’t just sit on the shelf?

Attend this workshop and you’ll leave with a blueprint for implementing your ideas which you can put into action as soon as you walk back into your office. Today, nonprofits operate in an increasingly complex and interconnected environment. The pace of change for our organizations has increased dramatically. Now, we are asked to do more with less, in less time. This demands collaboration and the necessity to develop authentic relationships with others.

In this experiential and hands on workshop, we’ll explore the components of a solid strategic planning process, and see how applying a strong equity lens can result in a strategic plan that is both relevant and has clear momentum for action.

Presented by Angela Powell

Donor-Centered Fundraising

Today’s fundraising practices and beliefs were developed in a time when donors were less demanding, competition was less severe, and fundraisers could rely on an unlimited supply of people who were willing to give. Now, wealth is shifting to a new kind of donor who is more questioning and harder to reach, the number of organizations raising money has exploded, and donors are trending towards supporting fewer causes. Find out how decision-making staff and volunteers can capitalize on these new market trends.

In Penelope Burk’s forward thinking and interactive seminar, you’ll learn about her breakthrough strategy, and how you can use it to augment your existing development programs and retain donors longer.

Presented by Penelope Burk.

The Art of Organizational Storytelling: Beginning, Middle, and End

From the attention-grabbing hook to the thrilling conclusion, all stories have a structure – as does each project, organization, funding appeal and grant proposal. In this highly-interactive workshop, participants will borrow from the time-tested crafts of playwriting, filmmaking, and fiction to infuse their funding appeals with the themes, details, and emotion necessary to compel an audience to lean forward and listen closely.

Back by popular demand, and offered in an expanded format, this humorous and engaging workshop will overcome writer’s block, inspire new perspectives, and make it so you can’t wait to pick up your pen and tell your story.

Presented by J.C. Geiger

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