BY Carmen James Randolph and Tené Traylor, #TFN2021 Virtual Conference Co-chairs

We are thrilled to announce that registration for The Funders Network 2021 Virtual Conference: Rise Together is officially open!

TFN’s virtual conference, which takes place March 15 to 17, 2021, will create a virtual space for funders to explore the strategies and stories that are creating more equitable, sustainable, and resilient places to live. This is work that has taken on increased urgency as we are called as a sector to help address the mounting challenges of a global pandemic, climate change, economic inequities and systemic racism.

Can we be bold and rise to this moment?

How do we help communities address and overcome the harsh, disparate impacts of the novel coronavirus in ways that are urgent and equitable?

How can we dismantle the systemic racism that touches every aspect of our lives — the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the places where we live, work and play?

And how do we use our privilege and power — as a sector and as individuals — to amplify calls for racial justice in ways that are meaningful, effective and authentic?

To say that 2020 has been a difficult year is an understatement. Those difficulties will not magically disappear with a new year or a new presidential administration.

That’s why we believe it is essential we find the time to access the tools, resources and insight that will lift us up and help us meet this moment.

Grounded in Racial Equity

In keeping with our 2021 Virtual Conference theme — Rise Together — our conference planning committee and TFN team have encouraged session ideas that are interdisciplinary, cross-cutting and grounded in racial equity.

TFN’s annual conference is the network’s signature event, bringing together diverse voices from across the sector as well as thought leaders, partners and practitioners to share their insight and expertise. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be sharing more details about our speakers and sessions. (You can see our At-a-Glance Agenda and Conference Highlights here.)

We also recognize that in this time of physical distancing, it’s important for us to find ways to connect with compassion, humanity and understanding. TFN will offer conference attendees an opportunity to take part in several Critical Conversations, facilitated peer-to-peer conversations that create a space for funders to explore difficult issues they may be working through personally or professionally (or both, as the lines between our work and home lives become increasingly blurred.) These Critical Conversations will hopefully allow us to have a frank and open exchange of ideas and experiences, and perhaps learn a little bit about each other in the process.

Work Together, Learn Together,
Rise Together

While we had originally hoped to come together in New Orleans, we will nonetheless find ways to lift up and learn from this amazing and resilient community as part of our virtual conference.

We are also seeking ways to minimize the economic impact of this decision, and will be highlighting opportunities to virtually visit local New Orleans vendors, artists and others in the community as part of our conference offerings. Stay tuned for the debut of our Shop Here! Virtual Market, where you’ll be able to order directly from NOLA-based small businesses as a way to support these local vendors — and perhaps treat a loved one (or yourself) to a meaningful gift.

And since we know burnout is a real thing, we’ll be building in opportunities for self-care, socializing and reflection with an agenda that includes Artist Interludes, Movement Breaks and a Cook Here! Funder Social Hour featuring a cooking demo from a New Orleans chef.

Bringing funders together is a year-round focus for TFN. Your registration fees and conference sponsorships help support the network’s over-arching mission to leverage philanthropy’s unique potential to help create communities and regions that are sustainable, prosperous, healthy and just for all people.

These fees also help us offset programmatic and operational costs incurred in the planning and production of virtual events, including honoraria for invited nonprofit speakers, as well as underwrite registration for our 2020 PLACES Fellows.

As conference co-chairs, we want to acknowledge the hard work of TFN’s team and our 2021 conference planning committee, especially the New Orleans funders, in reimagining this year’s conference as an online experience.

We hope to see you — virtually of course — at TFN’s 2021 Virtual Conference: Rise Together on March 15 through 17.

About our TFN 2021 Virtual Conference Co-chairs

Carmen James Randolph

Vice President for Programs, Greater New Orleans Foundation

Tené Traylor

Fund Advisor, The Kendeda Fund



Featured Image: The City of Chicago recently received a Partners for Places grant to help transform schoolyards into green, engaging places to learn and play. TFN’s 2021 Virtual Conference: Rise Together will explore the ways philanthropy can support more sustainable, prosperous and just communities for all people. Photo credit: Space to Grow.