This month, we invited our most generous corporate partners to join us in New York City for our third annual Partner Summit.
The two-day event began in Chinatown at PS 126 Jacob August Riis Elementary school, with a cocktail reception and dinner catered by five award-winning NYC food trucks. Guests included Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist), actress Yvette Nicole Brown, and Peter Bloom (Chairman of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors).
The following morning, our corporate partners joined us at The Ford Foundation for a day-long series of panel discussions and guest speakers.
Here are a few of our favorite moments from Partner Summit 2015:
The PS 126 cafeteria was transformed into a dinner party featuring the guests of honor – 30 teachers and administrators from PS 126. Collectively, these teachers have successfully secured over $336,000 to fund 460+ classroom projects. Poster-sized photos of their students and student artwork decorated the cafeteria space.
Thursday morning, Yvette Nicole Brown launched the day’s agenda with a conversation between nationally recognized teachers Damon Qualls (Alexander Elementary, Greenville, South Carolina), Jane Viau (Frederick Douglass Academy, Harlem, New York), and Genein Letford (NEW Academy Canoga Park, Canoga Park, California). Together, they discussed their experiences as teachers both in the classroom and in the larger education space. They reflected on their favorite project requests, the impact of DonorsChoose.org on their students, and their greatest struggles and triumphs as teachers.
Yvette closed the teacher panel by asking Genein and Jane to share their experiences with ‘flash-fundings’ – events from the past year in which all the project requests in each of their communities were fully funded by a DonorsChoose.org partner. Yvette lamented that she could not ask the same question of Damon, because South Carolina has never been flash funded – at which point South Carolina native Stephen Colbert could no longer stay in his seat. Take a look at what happened next…
With the room electrified by Stephen’s grand announcement, Charles and Stephen sat down for a fireside chat. The two began their conversation by recounting Stephen’s many hilarious and outrageous, yet always sincere tactics for supporting DonorsChoose.org. After discussing Stephen’s reasons for throwing his support behind DonorsChoose.org (particularly his appreciation of concrete goals and knowing exactly who he’s helping), they dived into the more important questions such as, Who would Stephen have chosen as his running mate if he had won the nomination at the Democratic National Convention? (Answer: himself).
Janelle Lin, DonorsChoose.org VP for Partnerships and Business Development, moderated a discussion with Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions for Facebook, and Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Together, they discussed trends and best practices in social media. Carolyn first weighed in on the implications of the shift to people-based marketing. She advised that marketing needs to be relevant to cut through the noise and arrive to the right person at the right moment. Tim cautioned against going all-in on social media without testing. In his words, “what gets tracked gets managed”.
In a conversation facilitated by Carolina Martin, DonorsChoose.org SVP of Partnerships and Business Development, Jessi Hempel of WIRED, Ron Lieber of the New York Times and Carol Cone of Edelman PR participated in a frank conversation about pitching philanthropic stories to traditional media outlets. The group encouraged attendees to pitch PR firms and journalists by first determining the angle that will most resonate with the desired audience and then identifying the ideal platform for the story.
Guest speaker Adam Alter, NYU professor and author of New York Times bestseller Drunk Tank Pink, presented his findings on how our environment unconsciously yet dramatically shapes the judgments and decisions we make every day. He shared insights and applications from his research, including the effect our own names have on our behaviors – particularly our philanthropic and giving behaviors. His remarks also referenced a recent DonorsChoose.org email marketing experiment, which played off Alter’s own research.
By popular request, the 2015 DonorsChoose.org Partner Summit allocated time for attendees to gather in small groups to share best practices and discuss ideas. The theme for the table talks was “storytelling”, and conversations diverged from there – covering topics from branding, to employee engagement, to video narratives, and beyond.