What Does a Fully Virtual Convening for Collaboration look like? A Behind-the-Scenes Look.
Impactathon® for Future Flourishing was a fully virtual convening and interactive hackathon experience to innovate inclusive solutions to global poverty amid covid-19 and rising awareness of the importance of building more inclusive systems.
Over 200 people from 15 countries connected, learned, discussed, collaborated, co-created and pitched social enterprise-inspired ideas to poverty alleviation. This event marks the 16th Impactathon and first fully virtual convening.
An Impactathon rooted in UN SDG 1: ending poverty
Rooted in UN #SDG 1 (ending all forms of poverty everywhere by 2030), participants focused on mapping and seeking solutions to instances of extreme global poverty (in emerging economies) or ways to support safety nets to end poverty in developed economies.
Forty-seven Impact Catalysts from diverse backgrounds and geographies joined to advise, share subject matter expertise, support, judge, connect, and engage both with each other and with the participants.
After an intense twenty-four hours across more than five time zones, 22 teams pitched to judges. It was hands-down the most logistically complex Impactathon I have co-convened.
But, it was truly incredible.
Using tech platforms to facilitate connection and collaboration
Via Zoom, Discord, Eventbrite, Google Drive, WhatsApp, Youtube, and other platforms — and with the dedication and perseverance of all involved to overcome tech challenges — we were able to do more than join a videoconference for this virtual convening. We were able to collaborate, to gain a feel of what it is like to be in a room together. A room without borders, without physical location, without a singular sense of time.
When we let go of what that interaction ‘should’ be, and thanks to the incredible leadership of the organizing team, we were able to lean in to what it could be.
When we allowed space for co-creation, much of which happened after Impactathoners were ‘in the room’, we could adapt and create spaces, resources, and feedback loops to support the dynamic needs.
We did this amid fire threats and evacuations in the SF Bay area, power outages in Africa, and every range of wifi connectivity issues you might dare to imagine. But thanks to the steadfastness and adaptability, dedication, and true grit of everyone involved — -these interactions happened instead of hoping to have happened.
The ‘competition’ for a virtual event? Doing nothing.
These days the biggest ‘competition’ for a virtual convening, is no event at all. We each have the option of simply not logging on to a webinar, an online meetup, another Zoom call.
So to have this dynamic group of critical thinkers and impact-driven problemsolvers say an emphatic yes through presence and engagement — -is a sign of something important. Despite challenging news headlines, a sense of lack of agency due to pandemic and systemic inequities…when given the chance, people want to co-create solutions. People want to be part of change.
This is the belief that powers and empowers my work through Innov8social. Creating tools, resources, programs to make social entrepreneurship more accessible and actionable. TLDR; to give agency back to people to create meaningful change.
Would you like to co-create the next hybrid or fully virtual Impactathon?
There is momentum and learning that has happened. I always think the end of an Impactathon is the perfect moment to start the next one because we are at a pinnacle of knowledge and awareness. If you are interested in co-creating an Impactathon® for your company, community, university, or group, please be in touch.
I’m Neetal Parekh, the founder of Innov8social, author of 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship, and convener of Impactathon®. I work with social entrepreneurs, foundations, and universities to help build ecosystems for social impact through designing convenings, content, and communication strategies. To learn more, schedule a quick call and follow @innov8social.