Your space for making change

Upswell Workshops are designed for experimentation, creativity, and connection. They create an interactive venue for honing skills and rewarding curiosity. And they provide a platform for lively debate, collaboration, and brainstorming.

A Decade Review of Philanthropy and Equity in California

Track: Policy, Racial Equity

Ten years ago, the philanthropy community in California banded together to defeat regulation from the state to mandate that they fund communities of color—opting to instead, self-regulate. How did that go? Did nonprofits run by people of color, serving communities of color get the money they would have if government mandated it? Which nonprofits benefited from “self-regulation” and which are still left out of the process? In this session, you’ll explore the opportunities and challenges with self regulating equity and how successes can be replicated elsewhere.


Aligning Organizational Ethics with 21st Century Challenges

Track: Humanity, Racial Equity

#MeToo. Standing Rock. Living wages. Black Lives Matter – complicated issues that challenge the meaning of being an ethical and responsible institution. This workshop’s interactive activities and group conversations will focus on reframing organizational ethics to align with 21st century challenges. You’ll also build deeper relationships and a greater appreciation for the complexity of social issues and the challenges in addressing them.


Applying Business Skills to Nonprofit Challenges

Track: Humanity

Should nonprofits run more like businesses? While service to others remains at the core, managing charitable organizations is growing more complex and demanding – and driving the question about the need for formal management training as a necessary leadership skill set. Can MBA competencies help us address our challenges through a business lens, without losing our service perspective? You’ll leave this workshop with greater knowledge of local and national community needs, and the importance of incorporating “business skills” without losing your nonprofit values.


Avoiding Potholes on the Road to Charitable Fundraising Compliance


Most states regulate the solicitation of charitable donations. Navigating the maze of the registration and reporting requirements is often a daunting experience for nonprofits and their fundraisers. Beyond the varying laws and states’ expectations, there can be traps in organizations’ IRS Form 990s and financial statements. Tracy Boak, a Partner at Perlman & Perlman, a law firm dedicated to nonprofit law, provides participants with a road map on the registration, reporting and disclosure obligations under the various states’ solicitation laws and offers tips about how to avoid the potholes along the way.


Beyond Being an Ally

Track: Racial Equity

You feel like you have a good grasp of the data and some understanding of the history of race in America. You even know you have more to learn, that this is a journey. But knowing what that means in how you structure everything, from your org chart to your weekly meetings while creating an inclusive organizational culture, is still not easy for you. Learn how you can use what you know about race and power dynamics and be open to what you may not yet understand, to build an organization that makes a difference, while you are busy making a difference.


Building a Narrative for the Sector and Your Mission

Track: Humanity

Everyone’s got a story. Small business has a narrative. So do various for-profit industries. But what’s the nonprofit sector’s story, and what’s your best elevator pitch about the value your organization brings? Don’t miss this workshop, where you’ll develop, test, and refine compelling messages that tell the story about the sector’s social change brand, and drive home the importance of your organization’s work.


Building Your Skills For a Race Equity Culture

Track: Data/Technology, Racial Equity

The racial leadership gap is not a pipeline problem, but a structural problem that exists throughout the social sector. We all have a responsibility to ensure that racial equity isn’t just a lens we use in our work, but a reality for the entire charitable community. By first determining where your organization is strong, and where the opportunities for improvement exist, you’ll be on your way to achieving a diverse and equitable workplace and sector. In this interactive session, you’ll utilize data from Building Movement Project’s Race to Lead report, with Equity in the Center’s Awake, Woke, Work cycle, and leave the workshop knowing how to apply racial equity data and strategy to your mission.


Civic Saturday at Upswell

Track: Humanity

Civic Saturday is an analogue to church, synagogue, mosque, temple: a gathering of friends and strangers in a common place. But it’s not rooted in theology. Instead, it’s about American civic religion—the creed of liberty, equality, and self-government that truly unites us—and about moral sense-making in this time of upheaval. Join the team from Citizen University for an engaging and inspiring taste of their popular traveling civic ritual as we revisit and nurture a spirit of shared purpose.


Diagnosing the Health of Your Organization’s Priorities

Track: Data/Technology

Whether you work at an organization or just interact with one, organizational capacity matters! Learn about the findings and vast array of tools that emerged from a landscape scan of organizational assessment tools. You’ll leave this workshop knowing how organizational assessment can help a nonprofit prioritize areas for improvement, and the factors that make an assessment more (or less) successful.


Extended Reality for Social Good

Track: Data/Technology

Like many emerging technologies, Extended (Augmented (AR) and Virtual (VR)) Reality has traditionally been viewed as a primarily private sector asset. However, as the private sector continues to develop AR to tell stories and sell products, the social sector is well poised to develop powerful experiences and campaigns that support equally powerful missions. Compelling use cases are beginning to emerge across three areas: Engagement, Education and Enjoyment. This panel of nonprofit executives will discuss how their organizations have effectively used Extended Reality to improve the lives of their beneficiaries and deepen the reach to their constituents. We’ll explore how this technology can enable your organization to create new experiences, reach new audiences in new ways, and position itself as a sector leader in the eyes of foundations and private donors.


Five Steps to Greater Social Impact

Track: Humanity

Good intentions are important, but real impact is what matters most. If you want your changework to be faster, more efficient, and more effective, then this workshop is for you! Using five fundamentals of Lean Innovation you’ll learn how to rethink your interactions with stakeholders and join the next wave of social impact trailblazers.


Fostering a Healthy Democracy

Track: Humanity

In a world that feels divided socially and politically, it can be reassuring to know there are approaches you can implement today to make values-based connections. This workshop will provide a variety of ways that are being successfully used to bridge divides. Learn and experience ways to connect with others with whom you may disagree and how to find space to consider shared values.


How Changemaking Mayors Are Building Trust and Community

Track: Racial Equity

Across the country, mayors are shaking up the relationship between government and community by reframing conversations toward on-the-ground solutions and working directly with residents to build trust. Hear from changemaking mayors who are tackling issues such as income inequality, health disparities, and public safety by bringing positive change to scale and making a real difference for communities often left behind.


How Healthy is the Nonprofit Sector?

Track: Policy

Just as fitness and wellness tracking programs help us monitor our personal well-being, tracking the nonprofit sector’s health can be a valuable resource for funders, policymakers, and advocates working to meet nonprofit needs and improve the environment in which we work. Join a team of experts for a discussion about plans for a Nonprofit Sector Health Index and learn how early findings related to financial health, voting, and employment may be an indicators about the road ahead.


How to Use the Lean Methodology for Social Change

Track: Data/Technology

Bring a real-world social challenge to this hands-on workshop and learn first-hand how to deliver greater impact at greater scale using “lean methodology.” Get ready to break out of business as usual, think big, identify your assumptions, and experiment with the process. And if you can attest to the power of lean methodology, share how you tackled your challenge, and help fellow participants tackle theirs.


Leading with Compassion

Track: Humanity

Want to know the secret to making better decisions, building trust, growing your network of followers, and substantially increasing the impact of your work? Compassion. That might sound simple – and obvious – but as it turns out, most leaders think that compassion means “being soft or nice” or “loving everyone.” And most leaders are wrong! This workshop explores the theory and practice of compassion and teaches you exactly how to use it to strengthen your leadership (and achieve all of the things listed above).


Moneyball for Advocacy and Equity

Track: Policy, Racial Equity

Metrics aren’t just for baseball. The push for short-term returns on investments may drive improvements to direct service, but these types of philanthropic trends also may undermine long-term goals to change systems and empower marginalized communities. This workshop will use a case study about California migrant workers to draw lessons on how to prevent philanthropic barriers to advocacy and encourage all nonprofits to help their constituents raise their voices for themselves.


Settling Differences, Making Change

Track: Humanity

Dialogue and collaboration are difficult in our ideologically charged world. How do we push past our discomfort and differences to begin focusing on collective action and shared solutions? Explore how to move beyond stereotypes and begin fostering the trust needed to work across ideology to tackle intractable problems.


Staying Nonpartisan in a Politically Charged Environment

Track: Policy

What do you do when someone suddenly declares your mission a partisan issue? In a society where everything is red or blue, how do you change systems without getting pulled down into the partisan muck? Hear from experts why it’s critically important for nonprofits to participate in public debates on partisan issues, even when our instinct is to disengage. You will leave this session with the skills to wade into controversial issues in service of your mission, but also maintain your credentials as a trusted purple place in your community.


Sustaining Collective Action Through Setbacks

Track: Policy

You are 10 years into your mission and the indicators of progress do not look good, but research has shown long-term policy gains can take 10-30 years to materialize. How do you persevere? Using case studies of homelessness in Los Angeles and Seattle and marriage equality in California, you will learn how to do all of the right things to assess, celebrate, and keep people motivated as you work for your mission.


Technology for Humans


At this moment in history, there’s no shortage of work to do in movement-building, resistance, resource mobilization and advocacy. How can we leverage technology to do that work at scale, while maintaining the skills and empathy that are uniquely human? Join Shea Morrissey from Hustle and Liz Quick from Mercy For Animals and explore how organizations can use technology to harness and grow empathy. You’ll leave with insights from innovative use cases, a strong grasp of some of the available tools, and a fresh take on how technology can help us connect, rather than divide our communities.


The Faith Factor in Social Purpose

Track: Humanity

We all have faith in something. We wouldn’t be drawn to social change work if we didn’t. If our national narrative is a composite of its individual parts, then finding common ground in the hope it takes to transform our world is paramount. This presentation will offer a non-polarizing setting to learn what drives changemakers across worldviews.


The Policy Battle Between Idealism and Pragmatism

Track: Policy

Just like Mr. Smith, nonprofits often face policy decisions that pit our ideals (what we really need) against compromise (what we can get). Join us for a discussion about the rewards and pitfalls of these two strategies, featuring case studies on living wage and charitable giving. You will leave with better understanding of this common policy challenge and strategies to overcome potential deadlock in your own policy work or coalition.


Tracking Racial Inequity in California

Track: Racial Equity

When it comes to some of society’s most complicated challenges – like racial inequity – finding solutions can feel like an overwhelming proposition. But a brighter future comes quickly into focus when you can clearly measure and act on data. In California, the Race Counts initiative has pioneered a data model that precisely identifies and tracks racial inequity. With a cutting edge virtual tool, Race Counts measures overall performance, amount of racial disparity, and impact by population size of each of California’s 58 counties, and then pairs that analysis with actionable research and on-the-ground mobilization campaigns. In this interactive session, you’ll learn how to use the Race Counts tool to make a difference in your own work and community.


Transformative Tech and You

Track: Data/Technology

How can tech change a nonprofit’s culture, vision, or impact? Founding partners of Independent Sector’s Tech for Common Good initiative share real stories about the most radical uses of tech to improve lives. They will discuss where they see the most opportunity and the most risk as the sector grapples with multiple technological advancements, and answer your questions about what all of this means to you.


Using Online Fundraising to Build Sustainable Organizations in a Rapid Response World


In the current media landscape, where the narrative changes rapidly and causes can be thrust into the spotlight at a moment’s notice, it can be tough to create a sustainable fundraising plan and stick to it. Having a digital fundraising program can help! With the right tools and a rapid response plan, you can use online fundraising to bottle lightning and give your supporters a way to take direct action! We’ll talk about best practices for digital fundraising programs in general and how to make effective donation asks during your big, and often unexpected, moments. Finally, we’ll talk about how to follow up with donors and keep them engaged long after their initial commitment.


Your 2019 Policy Game Plan

Track: Policy

Elections are out of the way and it’s time for a policy reboot. Download the latest developments in the ever-changing world of policy at the national and state levels to get you ready to tackle all of the issues affecting your organization in 2019. Join experts to develop strategies on issues such as charitable giving, political activity, and taxes. You will leave the session armed with knowledge of the playing field and equipment needed to win the policy game in the coming year.