Care about Memphis' nonprofits? Tune in for these virtual discussions this Wednesday and Thursday.

The Mid-South Nonprofit Conference kicked off on Monday and registration is closed, but two of its sessions are open to the public. The presentations will be livestreamed on Momentum Nonprofit Partners' Facebook page.

“Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap” will stream from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 12. The “State of the Sector Report" will stream at the same time on Thursday, August 13. 

The first will be hosted by Sean Thomas-Breitfeld & Tessa Constantine with the Building Movement Project based in New York. They'll discuss why less than 20% of nonprofit executives nationwide are people of color and why strategies to improve diversity in leadership have failed. 

The second is hosted by the local Dr. Erin Nelson. Nelson will discuss the results of the 2020 State of the Sector survey. Mid-South nonprofits were asked to share some of the successes and challenges their organizations are experiencing. 

Momentum Nonprofit Partners and The University of Memphis' Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership organized the five-day conference to help nonprofits move forward during the uncertainty of COVID-19 and cultural reckonings.

It offers nearly 20 one-hour seminars.

Speakers from local and national organizations will lead discussions and presentations focused on four areas of development: leadership, talent, and culture; marketing and communications; fundraising and resource development; and advocacy, engagement, and collaboration.

Momentum CEO Kevin Dean said the conference team has hosted an in-person event for years but began planning for a virtual summit in March.

The new format cost less to produce which allowed organizers to invite more nationally-known nonprofit leaders. Keynote speaker Donna Murray-Brown, for example, is the board chair of the National Council of Nonprofits and president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

“There is no way we could have afforded to bring them all to Memphis,” said Dean. “[The virtual conference] provides us with the opportunity for local Memphis nonprofit employees to learn from some of the most influential people in the field.”
 

New This Year: The Catalyst Awards

In addition to facilitating conversations on how to navigate an unstable economy and civil unrest, Momentum wants to highlight industry best practices. 

They hope their debut Catalyst Awards will lift up outstanding and emerging nonprofit leaders and organizations in the Memphis area and showcase their formulas for success.

The honoree selection process was designed to elevate nonprofit professionals who are not already well-known and have centered inclusivity in their organizations' tactics and strategies.

“For our individual winner, we stipulated in the rules that they can’t be an executive. Executives like me need to share the spotlight, and we want to showcase the up-and-coming talent in Memphis, ” Dean said.

The award ceremony will be held at the virtual conference on August 14. The finalists include three organizations and four individuals.

Read more articles by Brandi Hunter.

Brandi Hunter is a native Memphian and freelance content creator. She writes and podcasts about Memphis, faith and entrepreneurship for local and national publications, and leads a creative media assistance studio based in Memphis.
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