Guidelines for Submitting a Session Idea for the 2022 SAFSF Forum

SAFSF welcomes session proposals for our 2022 SAFSF Forum from the philanthropic and investment communities. Please read through this webpage for details about submitting session ideas for the 2022 SAFSF Annual Forum. After you’ve read through this page, navigate back to the submission page or click here.

What will the SAFSF Annual Forum look like in 2022?

SAFSF will host our annual Forum in person in Kansas City, MO on June 20-22nd, 2022. The Forum will be developed in collaboration with a Forum Advisory Committee and will feature topical sessions, plenaries, and (full day and half day) site visits. 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. 

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:

  • Relate to SAFSF’s newly designated priority issue areas for 2022: consolidation / concentration, climate change, and land access.
  • 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.
  • Include activities that help participants reflect and take actions related to the Forum theme of commitment and accountability.
  • Are aligned with SAFSF’s organizational values: collaboration, equity, respect, stewardship, integrity.
  • 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.
  • Discuss issues related to rural communities, the Midwest, and/or that draw connections between place-based work happening in different geographies.
  • 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.

What makes a strong session proposal?

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. Strong proposals will bring forward several case studies, examples, and/or regions.

Keep in mind 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. At this point, we do not expect every detail to be worked out or for all speakers to be confirmed. If you need help identifying speakers or if connections to people in other parts of the country would make a more balanced proposal, please say so.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. 

When preparing your proposal, avoid overly long titles/description and jargon-y language. What is the session really about? Write titles/descriptions that are brief, clear, and indicate some of the anticipated outcomes for participants.

Wherever possible, we encourage creative and interactive session formats rather than a traditional panel conversation (e.g. role play/case study exercises, small group or facilitated discussions, etc.)

What questions do I need to answer in my session proposal?

You can preview the questions in our submission form here. Please note that you must submit your proposal through our online form. You are able to save and resume your submission.

How are sessions evaluated for inclusion in the 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.

Workshop/dinner acceptances will not be determined by a funder’s ability to pay for all non-funder travel/lodging expenses and meal expenses. SAFSF has covered expenses for a few speakers in years past when the organizers requested support. Jointly organizing/co-sponsoring a session with other funders can also provide an opportunity to share ideas and costs.

We often receive many more excellent proposals than we have space for at the Forum.Session ideas may also be considered for other SAFSF programs, including webinars, collaborative online meetings and discussions, or other events.  

Session ideas can be developed as a workshop or a learning dinner. What is the difference between a workshop and a learning dinner?

Learning Dinners

Dinners will be held on the evening of the first day of the Forum—Monday, June 20, 2022. Dinners are usually about three hours long (e.g. 6-9 pm), and formal programming usually takes up 90 minutes of that time. Developing your session idea as a dinner provides a great space for funders to engage in deeper conversations and build connections while sharing a meal. Some dinners are held at the Forum hotel, and others may be held at a private dining room at a restaurant nearby. Forum attendees must pre-register to attend a dinner and pay a nominal fee to reserve their space. Organizers have the opportunity to limit attendance at the dinner (e.g. only open to funders; limited to a more intimate number of attendees for deeper conversation, etc.).

Funders developing a learning dinner are expected to cover the costs of attendees’ meals, drinks, and A/V during their dinner in addition to covering the costs of non-funder speakers’ travel and lodging for the Forum. On average, we recommend budgeting $125-150 per attendee (e.g. a budget of $3000 for the dinner would allow you to have 20 attendees at the dinner at most, including speakers; organizers must also separately cover travel and lodging for non-funder speakers). SAFSF will handle all of the logistical details associated with your dinner, including registration, A/V support and menu development, so that you can focus on your speakers and content. If your session is selected to be developed as a dinner, you will have the opportunity to set the budget for your dinner in consultation with SAFSF.


Workshops are 90-minute sessions held on the first and third day of the Forum—Monday, June 20 and Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Workshop sessions may have a panel of speakers, but certainly don’t have to. Think creatively about how you might engage participants, foster dialogue, and encourage collaboration. Workshops are open to funders and non-funders attending the Forum, but like all Forum programming, should be designed primarily for a funder audience. SAFSF will handle all of the logistical details, including registration and A/V support, so that you can focus on your speakers and content.

Session Types at a Glance

Session DateMonday, June 20, 2022Monday, June 20 or Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Session Length2 – 3 hours
(presentation/discussion usually around 90 minutes)
90 minutes
Session LocationPrivate dining room at Forum hotel or offsite restaurantBreakout room at Forum hotel
Sessions SelectedUp to 5 concurrent dinner optionsUp to 15 workshops
Three blocks of 5 concurrent sessions
Who Attends?Open to any Forum attendee; or limited based on organizer’s preferences (e.g. open to funders only)
Attendees must pre-register before the Forum
Number of attendees capped based on organizer’s budget and preferences (in consultation with SAFSF)
Open to any Forum attendee  
Attendees do not need to pre-register for workshops
No attendance limits
Cost to Organizer(s)– Food, beverage, and A/V for dinner attendees (average $125-150 per person)
– Non-funder speakers’ travel to Kansas City, Missouri and lodging during the Forum
– Organizer’s Forum registration, travel, lodging
– Non-funder speakers’ travel to Kansas City, Missouri and lodging during the Forum
– Organizer’s Forum registration, travel, lodging
Organizer Manages– Session content
– Speaker invitations
– Speaker travel and lodging*
– Session content
– Speaker invitations
– Speaker travel and lodging
SAFSF Manages– Speaker and attendee registration
– A/V needs
– Venue and logistics
– Menu development** and food/beverages
– SAFSF covers cost of non-funder speakers’ registration and meals during the Forum
– Speaker registration
– A/V needs
– Location and logistics
– SAFSF covers cost of non-funder speakers’ registration and meals during the Forum

*SAFSF can manage speaker travel/lodging for dinner organizers on request

**Organizer can be involved in menu development on request

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 funder organizers are expected to cover travel and lodging expenses for your non-funder speakers to participate at the Forum in Kansas City, MO. Please budget for two nights of lodging at the Forum hotel per non-funder speaker (discounted room block rate of $174 per night, plus taxes and fees). SAFSF will cover the cost of non-funder speakers’ registration and meals during the Forum. 
  • Funders developing a dinner are also expected to cover the costs of attendees’ meals, drinks, and A/V (average $125-150 per attendee).

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. However, SAFSF encourages you to provide an honoraria to the non-funder speakers participating in your 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 materials (as listed by host) and A/V management
  • Cost of non-funder speakers’ registration
  • Offering a small honoraria payment to non-funder speakers

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 10, 2022 at noon pm PT – Deadline for session proposals to be submitted online
  • February 1, 2022 – Proposal status shared with organizers
  • February 2022 – Organizers must participate in 30-minute call with SAFSF staff to discuss the planning process and their session’s needs
  • Mid-March, 2022 – Final session title, description, scheduling details, and confirmed speaker information due to SAFSF
  • March/April 2022 – Organizers to host a session prep call with SAFSF staff AND speakers
  • Early April 2022 – Registration opens
  • June 20-22, 2022 – 20th SAFSF Annual Forum in Kansas City, MO

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 Erin Olschewski, 805-567-7449.

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

Click here to submit your session idea through our online form. Ideas must be submitted through this form by January 10, 2021 by noon pm PT to be considered.