Introducing Upswell’s New Themes

Introducing Upswell’s New Themes

// By Christian Clansky

Upswell is going to look a little different this year. Actually, scratch that. It’s going to look (and feel) a lot different. With two years now under our belts, we’ve been brainstorming and blueprinting a year three that will launch Upswell so much higher than to the next level.

Year one was about re-engineering the structure of a social good event. Year two was about using that new structure to democratize knowledge and amplify the ideas and experiences of all kinds of changemakers. So, what is year three about?

Let’s set the context.

When we launched Upswell, we knew a few things for sure. We knew that Upswell would be an evolving experience — adaptive in nature and responsive by design. We knew that a journey into the unfamiliar might feel uncomfortable at first. We knew that collecting so much energy from across civil society might create a sense of being messy and overwhelming.

Over the last two years, we listened to and learned with you, the pioneering thousands who rolled up their sleeves to create Upswell with us. And what we learned is that there was just one ingredient left to add to the mix.

So, year three — and years four, five, ten, and one-hundred — will have a clear purpose: Upswell is about making you a better changemaker.

Upswell will, of course, continue to be unlike any other event out there. You’ll meet mind-opening people and have jaw-dropping experiences. You’ll explore the creative relationship between physical space and big ideas, immerse yourself in the lives of others, and make sense of civil society’s biggest challenges and very best opportunities.

But the most important reason to show up every year — the reason to clear your schedule, rally your colleagues, and get excited — is because you want to become a better changemaker.

Whether you’re the head of a huge foundation or a new associate at a community organization, a visionary social entrepreneur or seasoned corporate philanthropist — or any kind of person trying to improve the world — we’ve organized Upswell 2020 around three themes that universally matter to every single changemaker:  acceleration, innovation, and collaboration.

Here’s what we mean:


This is how you learn best practices, strengthen your skills, and discover how to be a more effective changemaker. Think of this as high-impact capacity building.


These activities explore the leading edge of doing good, with powerful new data, experimental technology, and moonshot ideas about changing the status quo.


Build bridges across differences, brainstorm with influential leaders, and forge new cross-sector relationships. Your light bulb moment might only be a conversation away.

If you want your entire Upswell experience to focus on a single theme, you’ll have an amazing three days. If you want to check out content from each one, that’s another incredible way to shape a transformative experience. The program will be flexible — and every activity within these themes will have tags that relate to your specific mission area.

Things are about to kick into high gear (next week, in fact) and we’ll have much more to say about these themes — and the innumerable other reasons that Upswell is the can’t-miss social good experience of 2020.

Until then, just one question: Are you ready to become a better changemaker?

1600 900 Christian Clansky
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