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Call for Session Ideas

Frequently Asked Questions

deadline now extended until March 3


Portal & Logistic Questions


How do I use the Submission Portal?

We are collecting Session Ideas this year via a platform called OpenWater. To submit your idea, set up a login to the 2021 Unity Summit submission portal and use that login to manage all your submissions and drafts.


How can I see the questions for the application?

Once you have set up a login to the portal, you can review the full application and all questions. Click “save and next” to move through the pages; you will be able to edit and save as much as you’d like before you submit. Find a summary of the questions here.


How do I log in?

First, set up a login by clicking on “Submit an Application” in the top purple banner. Once you have set up a login, you can use your credentials to enter the portal through the box on the upper left corner below the purple bar on the home page or through the left hand side login option on the “Submit an Application” page.


May I submit more than one session proposal?

Yes, idea submitters are encouraged to submit as many proposals as they would like. However, Summit organizers will only select proposals that are aligned with the Unity Summit frame, key issue areas and format. We encourage you to focus on quality not quantity.


What does the “Manage Collaborators” option mean?

When you begin your Session Idea submission, a button will appear at the top of the Introduction page that says “Manage Collaborators.” If you are organizing your session with a collaborator, click here to set up access to the application for your colleague. This will allow you both to make changes in the draft submission before finalized through multiple logins.


Can I save a draft submission in the portal?
Yes. Your submission can be saved while you complete it. Simply log back into the portal to complete the submission. Be sure to complete and submit your Session Idea before the February 19, 2021 deadline. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.


Is there a fee to submit my Session Idea?

No; submission is free.

May I submit a proposal via regular mail, fax, or email?

Unfortunately, those options are not available. Please share your submission through the Call for Session Ideas portal to ensure it is integrated into the submission pool for review by the 2021 Unity Summit Planning Committee and CHANGE Philanthropy team.

How many sessions will be available for programming?

Approximately 25 Session Idea submissions will be chosen for breakout spaces. Spark Talks and ePosters will be hosted in addition to these breakout sessions.

How and when will I know if my proposal is accepted?

Summit organizers will review each proposal and will contact every submitter in Spring 2021 with an update on the status and next steps.


Will I need to pay the registration fee for the conference if I am a speaker?

Yes. All speakers must register for the conference and pay the presenter/speaker reduced registration fee when registration opens in May 2021, speaker registration codes will be shared as part of the confirmation process. We do offer a limited number of complimentary registrations in consideration related to organizational budget.


Will I be able to edit my proposal after I submit it?

No.  You have the ability to save your session idea as a draft and edit as often as you would like until you are ready to submit. Then, click “Save and Finalize” and complete the prompts. Then, your session is submitted. Once submitted you will not be able to make changes. The final date for submitting ideas is February 26, 2021.  


Session Design Questions

What makes an aligned session idea?

The Call for Session Ideas will gather submissions to be considered as breakout sessions or workshops at the 2021 Unity Summit. Aligned sessions should support the 2021 Unity Summit goals and focus areas -- both designed to focus on advancing  philanthropic practice towards equity. You will be asked to describe how your session aligns with key issue areas of interest, who will benefit most from content, what communities are most impacted by the work or tools explored in the session, and details on your intended audience. The most interesting and engaging sessions tend to be the ones that utilize diverse lived experiences to  offer varied perspectives on the subject matter being presented. Crafting your session proposal as cross-cutting to complement presenters’ expertise will increase the chance that it's selected.

What are the 2021 Unity Summit goals?

  1. Highlight how to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion towards liberation into philanthropic practice.

  2. Amplify racially equitable philanthropic practices that address structural and institutional change.

  3. Magnify community priorities of our partners with an intersectional approach.

What do you mean by 2021 Unity Summit Focus Areas?

To distill the overarching purpose of the 2021 Unity Summit into more practical categories, the focus areas provide a lens through which “shifting philanthropic practice” can be understood in relationship to philanthropic institutions. Is your session idea more focused on the internal workings of a philanthropic organization—who it works with, who it hires and supports, the culture of the organization, the way it operates—or the external actions—investments, use of capital, grant-making, relationships, advocacy, power-building, accountability to community, etc.?


How are community voices and movement voices centered in the Unity Summit?

Plenary stages are focused on elevating the expertise, experience and stories from community and movement voices. The Call for Session Ideas is open to submissions for breakout sessions or workshops that elevate these voices as speakers in dialog with funders and philanthropic practitioners.

What do you mean by ‘intersectional’?

Intersectionality is a term coined by legal scholar and advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw to highlight the experience of oppression on Black women. She summarizes the definition as “...a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects”. More resources to explore intersectionality here.

What session formats are permitted?

Please review the options for session formats available here and on the homepage of the submission portal.

What kind of speakers are you looking for?

Across the 2021 Unity Summit we are eager to see speakers who represent a diversity of experience, strategies, stories, identities and communities. We value lived experience alongside professional experience, and are eager to ensure our stages break from tokenization and white dominance.

Who attends the Unity Summit and what is the main audience for these sessions?

The 2021 Unity Summit is focused on philanthropic practice, and is open to speakers and participants who are funders and/or work in philanthropy as well the non-profit and community voices that partner with philanthropy to make change.

Do speaker recommendations need to be finalized before submitting a proposal?

Having your speakers confirmed is wonderful, but not required at this point. Within the submission portal, there is a question about the status of your speaker confirmations. If all are confirmed, you will be asked to provide the details in this template, which you can upload at that question in the portal. If you are still gathering confirmations or do not yet know, there is an option to share that as your planning status, along with additional detail.

If you have questions or need help with submitting your proposal, contact Sarah Fastner, Events by Lady K.

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