Guidelines for Submitting an Idea for the 2021 SAFSF Forum

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) amplifies the impact of philanthropic and investment communities in support of just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. The annual SAFSF Forum is the only national gathering for and by funders supporting just and sustainable food systems change.

SAFSF welcomes session proposals for our online 2021 SAFSF Forum from the philanthropic and investment communities.

Please read through this webpage for details about submitting session ideas for the 2021 SAFSF Annual Forum.

After you’ve read through this page, click here to submit your session idea online.


What will the SAFSF Annual Forum look like in 2021?

SAFSF will host an online conference in early May 2021 that, in terms of overall structure, will look much like the online SAFSF Forum did in summer 2020. The online Forum will be developed in collaboration with a Forum Advisory Committee and feature funder-developed sessions spread out over the course of two weeks so that the event can fit into as many peoples’ schedules as possible. The Forum will also feature networking opportunities for investors and funders to connect with peers more informally, both during and outside of content-focused sessions. 

In addition to the online Forum, we will keep the SAFSF network posted should it be possible and safe to convene in person in June 2021 in Washington, DC. Dates are June 21-23. 


Who can submit a session proposal?

Session proposals must be submitted by funders or philanthropic support organization (PSO) staff. We encourage collaboration and session ideas that are co-developed/hosted or jointly organized by more than one funding organization. Organizers do not need to be members of SAFSF. We prioritize submissions from SAFSF members but are open to ideas submitted by all funders or investors.


What is SAFSF looking for in session ideas?

We have a broad national network that is interested in many different issues and themes related to equitable and sustainable  food and agriculture systems, and we cast a wide net in terms of the session ideas we are looking for. 

All sessions should be relevant to attendees representing the philanthropic and investment communities, and should emphasize how funders can engage in that particular issue. 

We are particularly interested in session proposals that:

  • Are aligned with SAFSF’s organizational values: collaboration, equity, respect, stewardship, integrity.
  • Explicitly address issues of equity and inequity (racial equity, gender equity, structural barriers and their relationships to socioeconomic or health disparities, etc.).
  • Discuss strategic and actionable opportunities for engagement by the philanthropic and investment communities, including new models or changes to how philanthropy might operate.
  • Explore the role and implications of federal, state, local, and/or Tribal public policy and advocacy, as well as potential policy solutions, engagement strategies and grassroots advocacy efforts that move systemic change.
  • Address COVID-19 response and recovery within philanthropy and the agriculture and food system.
  • Highlight innovative solutions being employed by communities, including urban, rural, and/or Tribal communities.
  • Share new themes, emerging issues, and/or lessons learned in a way that is relevant for our national network that is working on many different issues, geographies, scales, and strategies. 

Strong proposals will communicate how your session idea might be of interest and relevance to funders working on any number of issues across the agriculture and food system. Please keep in mind that our programs rarely focus on a single organization or individual, and that session ideas are just that–ideas! If your session is accepted, there will be time for organizers to consider  feedback from SAFSF staff and the advisory committee and make changes to your session framing and speaker lineup. We want your ideas even if you haven’t figured out all of the details and/or need to leave some spaces on the submission form blank. 


How are sessions evaluated for inclusion in the online Forum?

Proposals will be reviewed by the Forum Advisory Committee and SAFSF staff based on how well the proposal idea relates to the interest of the SAFSF membership and our strategic priorities. We prioritize submissions from SAFSF members but are open to ideas submitted by any funder or investor. We try to ensure that the Forum program will offer a wide range of topics, themes, and strategies on the agenda. Session ideas may also be considered for other SAFSF programs, including webinars, collaborative online meetings and discussions, or other events.  


If my session idea is accepted for the Forum, what are my responsibilities as an organizer?

As an organizer, you’ll be responsible for the following:

  • Developing the framing/content of your session
  • Meeting one-on-one with SAFSF staff to discuss your session idea, format, and logistical needs
  • Inviting and preparing your speakers and moderator
  • Holding at least one prep call with your speakers and SAFSF staff
  • Introducing your session during the Forum (organizer may also serve as moderator)

All funders involved in your session will need to register for the Forum at the discounted SAFSF member rate. There are no other costs associated with hosting the session.


What support will SAFSF provide me as a session organizer?

SAFSF will manage the following:

  • One-on-one call with you and SAFSF staff to provide input on your session idea, session’s format, speakers, and logistical needs
  • Speaker and attendee registration
  • Session hosting and A/V management on Zoom
  • Cost of non-funder speakers’ registration
  • Offering a small honoraria payment to non-funder speakers

I’ve never hosted an online session and am a little intimidated. What do I need to know?

SAFSF will make the process as easy as possible for you! Your role is to focus on session content and framing and speaker preparation. We’ll manage all of the tech-y logistics for you. Additionally, you’ll have a one-on-one orientation call with SAFSF staff. During this call, we will  provide input on best practices to help make your session as engaging and successful as possible. 


I have an idea for a creative session format (e.g. film screening and discussion, cook-along event, interactive activity, etc.). Are you open to that? 

Yes – we welcome your creativity! Sessions might have a panel of speakers, but certainly don’t need to: think creatively about how you might engage participants, foster dialogue, and/or encourage collaboration. You will need to be specific about any special logistical support you will require from SAFSF to make your idea a reality. 

Note that our primary focus is on your session idea–the content and goals of your session. Any creative formats suggested should support and further your session’s goals and be aligned with SAFSF’s values (collaboration, equity, respect, stewardship, and integrity). Please be mindful of any additional costs, environmental impacts/carbon footprint, or other implications of creative ideas. 


What important dates should I be aware of?

  • January 22, 2020 at 5 pm PT – Deadline for session proposals to be submitted online
  • February 15, 2020 – Proposal status shared with organizers
  • February/March 2020 – Organizers must participate in 30-minute call with SAFSF staff to discuss the planning process and their session’s needs
  • March 8, 2020 – Final session title, description, scheduling details, and confirmed speaker information due to SAFSF
  • March/April 2020 – Organizers to host a session prep call with speakers and SAFSF staff
  • Late March 2020 – Registration opens
  • May 3-14, 2020 – 19th SAFSF Annual Forum (online format)

I have a different question. Who can I contact?

Send an email to [email protected] or feel free to reach out by phone to Susie DiMauro, 805-567-7363, or Wendy Sosa, 805-567-7353.


I’m ready to submit my session idea. How do I do so?

Click here to submit your session idea through our online form. Ideas must be submitted through this form by January 22, 2021 at 5 pm PT to be considered.