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Imagination infrastructures

Next Frontiers: a date for your diary

Last year we initiated the New Frontiers in Philanthropy and Investment conference. In total we had 900 people attending across the two days. You can see the programme (and watch back all the sessions too) as well as our reflections.

Written by:
Cassie Robinson
Date published:
Reading time:
5 minutes

We had 57 speakers from around the world all of whom are pushing the boundaries of philanthropic and investment practice. We wanted to create an event that felt expansive and challenging, inspirational and practical and the feedback we received afterwards points at that. 

You pulled off a zinger of an event. It absolutely met your intention of being ‘expansive and challenging, inspirational and practical’. What a beautiful blend of people, perspectives and ideas. The whole that you created was far bigger than the sum of its many parts. Thank you so much for the immense amount of work and creative thinking that went into it.

I haven't felt that sort of energy at a conference for a very long time (possibly ever).

I just wanted to write and say thank you for running an exceptional experience for us all. It was up there with the best I've been to, in no small part down to the wonderful mix of people who were there. And they were there because of you. It was heartfelt, brave, useful and stretching.

It was only last week that we also found out it’s inspired similar to happen overseas - 

One of the best I've been to. Inspiring to the extent that we're starting organising a similar one, more attuned to Dutch philanthropic reality, in The Netherlands.

This kind of feedback made it an easy decision to invest in the conference again, and we also know that the dial of what needs to change in this field of funding, philanthropy and investment has barely moved. We can see that resources aren’t flowing in the way they need to, that resource-holders are being tentative, often reverting back to what’s familiar, with the ambition and creativity required for more transformative work being drowned out by the immediate needs of multiple crises. Everyone is exhausted and faltering from what is being demanded of them. 

Planning our 2023 conference

So, we’re glad that this year we now have a whole group of partners to shape the event alongside us, and help ensure things do shift, and our spirits are lifted. We’re so glad that Good Ancestor Movement, Blagrave Trust, the Impact Investing Institute, Lankelly Chase, ThirtyPercy, Guy’s and St Thomas’s Foundation and Be The Earth are joining us as partners, and alongside Resource Transformation will be bringing their collective wisdom to the co-design of this.  

Radical ambition

We want to preserve the radical ambition of 2022’s conference, platforming people who are thinking deeply about the edges of practice and thinking. Ideas around new vehicles for building economic democracy, post-endowment philanthropy, and looking for ways to influence where resources flow in the Great Wealth Transfer, whilst also recognising that some of this work is about practices for transitions. And transitions require plurality - different approaches, different people and organisations across a whole ecology of funding, finance and investment, that will have different theories of progress, and be working with different time horizons. We are explicit that a commitment to doing radical and ambitious work needs to be as accountable to transformative, liberatory and system-shifting intentions, as it is to equity and justice.

Fresh content

We want to maintain the focus on fresh content, and a lot of it. As with 2022, we will platform a very diverse group of speakers and panellists. This year we’d like to bring a greater number of international perspectives into the room. We’re really excited that we have already secured the brilliant Nwamaka Agbo, CEO of the Kataly Foundation, as one of our keynote speakers. She will do a beautiful job of setting exactly the tone of urgency and hope that we want to create.

We are committed to running the conference again this summer, with a minor but important renaming to ‘Next Frontiers’, to reflect the fact that some of this work is not new, but continues to push at the borders of what we know.

Our hope is that participants (speakers and attendees alike) leave feeling a deep commitment to the ambition we all need to hold on to in this work, that they’ve been inspired by new work and fresh perspectives that have stretched and challenged their thinking and practice; and that they are part of a wider ecosystem of changemakers.

Last year we ran the event over two days, on a single track. This year, we will run the event over a single day, but offer parallel tracks so that people can choose the sessions they wish to attend, and design their own programme.

Last year, we were unapologetic about the lack of interactivity and focused instead on curating truly diverse panels that offered plural perspectives. We want to hold on to the broad format for this year – all the more so given the vast majority of people will be watching online. However we are keen to think about digital opportunities for exchange and temperature taking in the audience. We will be investing more in the online experience this year, with better tech and more intentional hosting of the online spaces.

Volunteers tidying a school garden.

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