The 2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Voices of the nonprofit sector

For our 27th annual fall conference in Phoenix, we wanted to try something new, something collaborative, something that leveraged the energy and ideas of the hundreds of nonprofit professionals gathered in one ballroom.

And so we conceived The UnConference: CommYOUnity Solutions, a space to give voice to the key issues in our nonprofit and philanthropic community and to collectively find real solutions to these shared challenges.

During the morning-long Solutions CollaboratoryJeff Snell, the Sr. Fellow for Social Innovation at the ASU Lodestar Center, guided the UnConference participants through an interactive exercise designed to surface the major, shared issues in the sector – and, critically, to talk through ideas for solutions. Snell posed six big-picture questions, handed out sticky notes and tasked everyone with writing down responses. Student volunteers at each station then grouped the notes into categories that guided the discussion; afterwards, participants used brightly colored stickers to vote for the answers that most resonated.

All of the responses that received votes have been reproduced below, a snapshot of our sector's hopes and fears, triumphs and failures, opportunities and challenges.

To close the Collaboratory, David Bornstein of the Solutions Journalism Network and The New York Times shared his thoughts on the day's key themes. Bornstein's work looks at how people and organizations respond to social problems, providing insights and evidence of results that others can use. He encouraged attendees to continue this process – of confronting problems and seeking solutions – at their organizations. "The last thing we need is more leaders who are not self-reflective," he said.

And now, here are the results of the ASU Lodestar Center's 2019 Solutions Collaboratory.

2019 UnConference logo vertical

2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Question #1

"When I think of my organization's work in the community, it would be great if..."

Collaboration and partnership

Votes

1

Collaborate, not compete
Votes

1

There were more collaborative efforts across the board
Votes

1

True collaboration
Votes

1

Collaborate together to provide more resources
Votes

1

Build community within the sector
Votes

1

Worked together, not compete against

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2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Question #2

"If I had a million-dollar gift show up, no strings attached, I would             to create a lasting impact."

2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Question #3

"The biggest threat/opportunity to the nonprofit sector today is..."

Other responses

Votes

1

Lack of equality
Votes

1

Social media
Votes

1

Capacity
Votes

1

Sustainability
Votes

1

Lack of education of leadership and donors
Votes

1

Employees leaving the field for higher wage jobs/change of career

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2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Question #4

"Legit leaders in the nonprofit sector focus on..."

Other responses

Votes

1

Their real passion
Votes

1

Manage risk taking
Votes

1

Authenticity in their words and actions
Votes

1

Reforming the corporate sector

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2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Question #5

"Why do some social problems persist?"

2019 Solutions Collaboratory

Question #6

"What is the purpose of leadership education for nonprofit executives?"

What comes next?

We were delighted by the response to our UnConference and by the data that emerged. In 2020, look for our programming to incorporate many of these themes, from more collaboration to investing in your people. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates from us twice a month.

Photo: On stage, Jeff Snell (left) and David Bornstein shared their observations about the Solutions Collaboratory.

Jeff Snell and David Bornstein