World Summits and Conferences Grantmaking on a Global Stage

Summits and world conferences can give grantees an important opportunity to contribute ideas to governments and international agencies — and to link with counterparts and kindred movements around the globe. This guide, drawing on grantmaker experiences, looks at how funding in connection with a summit can advance grantees' programmatic goals and help them get the most from a summit experience.

Highlights

  • Why fund in connection with a summit
  • Working with grantees to advance their goals
  • Supporting their efforts to engage the media effectively
  • Understanding the debates about summits

What's in the Guide?

  • Setting the Stage: What are international summits? What can they accomplish? And what issues can be expected to arise along the way? This chapter lists a few of the opportunities and challenges that grantmakers may encounter.
  • Why Fund in Connection with a Summit? International summits are complex and sometimes controversial events, but with immense potential value. Here, grantmakers describe some of the ways that funding in connection with a summit can advance program goals.
  • How Some Grantmakers Prepare: Well before they make the first grant, grantmakers can prepare themselves by learning about the process, developing program goals and networking with potential partners. This section includes some preliminary actions grantmakers can take to get the most out of a summit opportunity.
  • Working with Grantees: What kinds of activities could a grantmaker fund? From help with coalition-building, to providing funding for summit news bulletins, grantmakers offer ideas about how to support grantees and other actors before and during a summit.
  • Engaging the Media: The quality and extent of media coverage can have a big impact on a summit's success. How can a funder help grantees prepare to work well with the media? In this section, grantmakers offer some experience and guidance on how to engage the world's eyes and ears.
  • Beyond the Summit: Work doesn't end when a summit closes its doors. Here are examples of ways in which funders have contributed to important summit follow-up activities.
  • The Debate about Summits: Grantmaking in connection with summits can offer short-term benefits to participants and longer-term impacts on policy. There are costs as well as benefits associated with mobilizing governments and non-governmental organizations at a worldwide gathering. So, before stepping into this arena, it's wise to understand the debate about summits. Here are issues commonly raised and how some grantmakers respond.
  • Takeaways
    Challenges and Benefits of Global Conferences and Summits

    The sheer size, expense, and political and logistical complexity of conferences raise a host of issues and problems that come with bringing people from a wide range of perspectives together to address social inequities and development challenges. This is an ambitious goal and, not surprisingly, governments, the U.N., and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have expressed frustration about the process and its outcomes. By their very nature, summits make debates about how to address social inequities available to global audiences and not everyone is going to agree on the best solutions. Reaching joint recommendations for solutions is an important and challenging task.

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  • Takeaways
    Forms of International Summits and Conferences
    1. An official U.N. summit is typically an official meeting of governments convened by the United Nations to address a vital social and economic issue affecting all countries, for example sustainable development, the status of women, or racism.
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  • Takeaways
    Controversies Surround World Conferences and Summits
    • Weigh costs and benefits. It’s important, said one grantmaker, to recognize that incidents may take place and things may be said that are highly offensive to some people and even run counter to a foundation's core values. “When you’re a funder,” he cautioned, “you have the idea that you’re funding something specific. But in the court of public opinion, there’s an assumption that if you fund it you must agree with it. So you need to look at the whole summit and do a risk analysis.”
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  • Takeaways
    Why Fund in Connection with a Global Summit?

    A successful summit might be expected to produce these general outcomes:

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  • Takeaways
    Preparing for Global Summit Involvement
    • Develop long-term goals as early as possible in the summit process. “You have to think about what your goals are, going in. Now, my goals are often to help grantees spotlight an issue – to pluralize the voices that are engaged in these debates, to bring voices to that debate that would not have been there without us..."
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  • Takeaways
    The Official UN Summit What It Is and Does

    Summits and their preparatory and follow-up activities can involve literally tens of thousands of non-official actors engaged in a wide range of advocacy, networking, capacity-building, movement-building, and public education efforts - well beyond the perspection that they are the exclusive domain of governments.

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  • Takeaways
    Strategies for Working with Global Summit Grantees (aka Organizers)

    Some of the ways that grantmakers have funded grantees in connection with an international summit include:

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  • Takeaways
    The NGO Forum What it Is and Does

    Taking the summit agenda as a point of departure, an NGO forum generally engages large numbers of people from non-governmental organizations around the globe.

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  • Takeaways
    External Resources World Summits and Conferences
    • The U.N. Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NLGS) provides information about the United Nations and U.N. summits. The NLGS office helps NGOs and others learn how to enter and participate in the summit process, including implementation and follow-up activities. NLGS often provides orientation sessions prior to PrepComs. It contains useful logistical and strategic information on how NGOs can prepare for any summit.
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  • Takeaways
    Engaging the Media in World Summits and Conferences
    • Provide support to grantees that already work well with media, and make training and technical assistance available to those who need it.
    • Help grantees to reach out to journalists early in the preparation stage.
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Summits and world conferences can give grantees an important opportunity to contribute ideas to governments and international agencies — and to link with counterparts and kindred movements around the globe. This guide, drawing on grantmaker experiences, looks at how funding in connection with a summit can advance grantees' programmatic goals and help them get the most from a summit experience.

Highlights

  • Why fund in connection with a summit
  • Working with grantees to advance their goals
  • Supporting their efforts to engage the media effectively
  • Understanding the debates about summits

What's in the Guide?

  • Setting the Stage: What are international summits? What can they accomplish? And what issues can be expected to arise along the way? This chapter lists a few of the opportunities and challenges that grantmakers may encounter.
  • Why Fund in Connection with a Summit? International summits are complex and sometimes controversial events, but with immense potential value. Here, grantmakers describe some of the ways that funding in connection with a summit can advance program goals.
  • How Some Grantmakers Prepare: Well before they make the first grant, grantmakers can prepare themselves by learning about the process, developing program goals and networking with potential partners. This section includes some preliminary actions grantmakers can take to get the most out of a summit opportunity.
  • Working with Grantees: What kinds of activities could a grantmaker fund? From help with coalition-building, to providing funding for summit news bulletins, grantmakers offer ideas about how to support grantees and other actors before and during a summit.
  • Engaging the Media: The quality and extent of media coverage can have a big impact on a summit's success. How can a funder help grantees prepare to work well with the media? In this section, grantmakers offer some experience and guidance on how to engage the world's eyes and ears.
  • Beyond the Summit: Work doesn't end when a summit closes its doors. Here are examples of ways in which funders have contributed to important summit follow-up activities.
  • The Debate about Summits: Grantmaking in connection with summits can offer short-term benefits to participants and longer-term impacts on policy. There are costs as well as benefits associated with mobilizing governments and non-governmental organizations at a worldwide gathering. So, before stepping into this arena, it's wise to understand the debate about summits. Here are issues commonly raised and how some grantmakers respond.