Central Texas Funders Forum

Each year in May, GPA Austin/Central Texas hosts a day of learning, sharing, and networking for grant and fund development professionals. This exciting event brings together Central Texas’ major philanthropic foundations/corporations and grant-seekers to exchange ideas and develop ways to work together for the betterment of our community.

October 5, 6 & 7

Join us for our first-ever Central Texas Funders Forum: Virtual Editionwith 3 half days (9am-12pm) of learning, networking, and idea-sharing with more than 200 Central Texas grants and fundraising professionals and dozens of area funders, presented by the Austin-Central Texas Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association and the ACC Center for Nonprofit Studies! 

This year's virtual edition will explore topics such as grants in the "new normal" and how grantwriters and grantmakers can use language, storytelling, and strategic partnerships to promote racial equity. The event will also feature variety of breakout sessions led by area funders, nonprofit leaders, and fellow grant professionals.

Our program includes in-depth panels with local funders, hands-on workshops, a keynote presentation by storytelling expert Bridget Gavaghan with the National Reframing Initiative, and our signature "Relationship Relays," which offer a chance for intimate, small-group conversations with area funders!

This year's funders include: Austin Community Foundation, Bank of America, City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, City of Austin Grants for Technology Opportunities, Funders Together to End Homelessness, Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, Hispanic Impact Fund, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Impact Austin, Livestrong Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Moody Foundation, Powell Foundation, Rockwell Fund, St. David's Foundation, Webber Family Foundation, and the Women's Fund, with more still being added!

Day 1 – Monday, October 5
Welcome by GPA CEO, Mike Chamberlain, 9am

Panel 1: Grantmaking & Grantwriting in the "New Normal," 9:15-10:30am
Funders will provide insights on trends in grantmaking, strategies for grants success, and opportunities for collaboration as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists:
  • Meagan Anderson Longley, MSSW, VP, Community Impact, Austin Community Foundation
  • Marisol Foster, Executive Director, Webber Family Foundation
  • Dulari Gandhi, Program Officer, Pathways to Prosperity, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
  • Don A. Titcombe, MSSW, Senior Program Officer, Rockwell Fund
  • Denise Herrera, Senior Capacity Building Officer at the St. David's Foundation 
  • Moderator: Susannah Erler, CFRE, Director of Nonprofit Consulting, Executive Transitions, and Grant Writing at Greater Good Strategies and ACC Center for Nonprofit Studies faculty member
Panel 2: Racial Equity & Social Justice in Grants, 10:45am-12pm
This panel will delve into how funders, locally and beyond, are thinking about and practicing racial equity in grantmaking, and will highlight opportunities for nonprofit collaboration.
  • Amanda Misiko Andere, CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness
  • Jesús Pantel, Cultural Funding Supervisor, City of Austin Cultural Arts Division
  • Representative from the Moody Foundation, TBA
  • Moderator: Pamela Beson Owens, President and CEO of Edge of Your Seat Consulting, Inc., and Acting Executive Director of Six Square
Day 2 – Tuesday, October 6
Keynote presentation by Bridget Gavaghan with the National Reframing Initiative, on research-based methods for building new, more empowering narratives in nonprofit communications. Her presentation will provide insights on how you can strategically craft messages that contextualize client stories, shift public thinking, and inspire broad-based support.  9:15-10:30am.

Breakout Sessions on topics relevant to both new and advanced grant professionals (see full descriptions below). 10:45-11:45am.

Day 3 – Wednesday, October 7
4 rounds of Relationship Relays—intimate, small-group conversations with area funders, 9:15am-12pm.

Funders will include: Bank of America Charitable Foundation, City of Austin Grants for Technology Opportunities, Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, Hispanic Impact Fund, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Impact Austin, Livestrong Foundation, Moody Foundation, Powell Foundation, Webber Family Foundation, and the Women's Fund - and more to be announced!

Tickets can be purchased for each day individually, or as a 3-day bundle for a discounted price. Get your tickets here! 

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us! You can email corinna@creativeaction.org.

Breakout Sessions:
Building a Movement: A New Narrative for Human Services
with Bridget Gavaghan of the National Reframing Initiative
Building off of the themes explored in the keynote address, this breakout session will take a deeper dive into the evidence-based recommendations for reframing human services. Session topics will include analyzing before and after reframing examples and offering tips and strategies for applying the new narrative into priority communications.

Prospect Research with the Foundation Directory Online
led by Harriet Sedgwick with the Texas Grants Resource Center
Join the Texas Grants Resource Center for a work session on Candid’s Foundation Directory Online database – learn best practices for getting the most out of your searches, work on searches in real time and get your questions answered, and leave the session with a new list of foundation prospects to jump-start fall fundraising!

Fundraising Career Paths: An Open Conversation with AFP – Greater Austin
A panel of three dynamic fundraisers will share and explore their career paths as fund development professionals.  From the young-professional, mid-level to a seasoned leader, attendees will hear applicable stories, lessons learned and tips to make the next, best steps in your career. We look forward to an interactive conversation! Panelists include AFP board members Amy Jackson, CFRE, Chief Development Officer at Caritas of Austin, Suhailah Waheed, Founder & Individual Giving Manager, Giving Geeks, Kristin Campbell, CFRE, Chief Development and Communications Officer at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, and Heather Parsons, CFRE, Owner & Founder, Heather Parons Consulting.

Pet Peeves of Funders
led by Lydia Howie, MS, GPC, Howie Marketing & Consulting
This session will feature results of a funder survey – their recommendations of what NEVER to do and the key lessons to learn from each. Gain a unique insight into proper funder-awardee protocol that will improve your grant success and retention rates.

How to Grow Grant Revenue During a Pandemic (Or Anytime!) 
with Catherine Ashton and Jessica Delohery from Giant Squid Group, LLC
This session will explore, discuss, and workshop how grant writers at all stages of their career, and at all sizes of organization, can deepen their grant writing skills and increase revenue by revisiting their writing, prospecting, and engagement strategies. Participants will explore a case study with NAMI Central Texas and participate in interactive breakout sessions to gain an understanding of what tools, resources, and skills are already available to them, and how these can directly translate into continued grant-writing success.

Livestrong Solution Grants: Fostering Collaboration; Fixing Everyday Cancer Problems
led by Virtoria Threadgould with the Livestrong Foundation
The goal of this session is to share how Livestrong has been fostering collaboration and building relationships between grantees, grant applicants, and the cancer community through its Solution Grants program, and monthly Solution Webinar Series. Participants will learn how Livestrong engages with all grant applicants and our grantees; plus ways in which our grantees have been adapting to the pandemic and collaborating together."

Growing Your Learning Culture hand in hand with Your Donors
 with Kate Robinson, Executive Producer of "Saving Philanthropy" and "Failing Forward" and Dr. Liz Schoenfeld, Chief Research & Evaluation Officer at LifeWorks Austin
Join filmmaker and strategist specializing in evaluation planning and organizational learning, Kate, Robinson, as she shares clips from her latest project and leads a conversation with Dr. Liz Schoenfeld from Lifeworks about  the challenges and benefits of participatory action research and the hand-in-hand development of a Fundraising strategy and a robust internal Research Department.


"Best Practices for Better Partnerships"May 3, 2016

Panel Discussion 1: Smarter Grantmaking: Strengthening Partnerships Between Funders & Grantees

Moderator Sally Blue, Sally Blue Consulting, and President, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Austin Chapter
Nikki Graham, Bank of America
Marisol Foster, Webber Family Foundation
Mitchell Long, The Long Foundation

Panel Discussion 2: Communicating Impact: Perspectives from Funders

Moderator Elizabeth Darling, CAE, CFRE, Executive Director, OneStar Foundation
Nichole Aston, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Virginia Potter, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Nikki Graham, Bank of America

Beyond Best Practices – What Does it Take to Create a High Performing Development Program?

Fayruz Benyousef, CFRE

Relationship Relay

Giving Star Award Presented to Bobbie Barker, St. David's Foundation

"Partnering for Greater Impact: Connecting the Dots"May 8, 2015

Panel Discussion 1: Powerful Partnerships between Funders and Nonprofits

Moderator Charles Scarborough, CFP, CFRE, Seton Healthcare Family
Shelby Montgomery, Dell Inc.
Melanie Moore, KDK-Harman Foundation
Rick Ybarra, The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Panel Discussion 2: Connected Philanthropic Communities

Moderator Adrienne Longenecker, CFRE, the Thinkery and Austin Chapter of AFP
Becky Pastner, St. David’s Foundation
Cindy Patrick, Meadows Foundation
Judith K. Voress, Donald D. Hammill Foundation

Relationship Relay

Participants meet with Julie B. Johnson, Project Manager at Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation, just one of the many funders available during the Relationship Relay.

Giving Star Award Presented to Amber Carden, US Trust/Bank of America