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I joined Concordia at the height of the pandemic and, being based in Ohio, had never experienced a Concordia Summit. Although 2021 was unique in its hybrid fashion, the preparations by the team and the overarching mission—to build and strengthen public-private partnerships that support positive social impact—that guided everyone’s efforts remained true. Here are some of my reflections on the process, implementation, and ultimate impact of our Annual Summit based on my role as Membership Manager.

Summit Planning

At the core of Concordia membership you will find the Convene-Connect-Create model. The “Convene” portion of this model relates to the events and programs in which you can participate: Summits, Concordia Live webinars, issue-relevant roundtables, and private events. There is also the opportunity for thought leadership and heightened visibility to our global community. “Connect” refers to our Concordia Connect service, which brokers year-round introductions within our member and speaker community. The “Create” piece is truly at the heart of Summit planning for our members. It provides members with support in partnership formation from strategy advice and critical connections to expert-led partnership development discussions. Our Partnerships Department helps to provide the frameworks and support in early-stage design, and lends expertise to develop best practices to support every stage of a partnership.

As the lead for the Membership department, I speak with our members frequently and have a good understanding of their goals, initiatives, and strategies. As these discussions moved beyond membership and became organization-wide, I began to understand how the cross-sector conversations actually make an impact.

Having joined the Concordia team earlier this year, this was my first Annual Summit. I was very interested to see how the conversations I began with members many months ago were going to play out in various discussion groups. It was truly inspiring to see so many of our members and key stakeholders on the Mainstage, in a private roundtable, or participating in private meetings in order to have the discussions that are very necessary to solve the challenges facing the world today. Each person brought a different voice and perspective to the conversation and all of the different views brought outcomes and next steps to advancing a solution.

How it All Comes Together

What I noticed is that in keeping with social distancing guidelines, an event that hosted around 3,000 people in 2019 was now attended by 650 people (and many more virtually). With a smaller engagement of onsite participants, we saw so many more people having access to speakers and key stakeholders who before might have been too inundated to have these conversations. At the Concordia Connect desk, we had the opportunity to meet many of our members in person and were able to make those immediate in-person connections that have resulted in collaborations and project funding. It all comes full circle and the end result is exactly what Concordia shares as its mission: actively fostering, elevating, and sustaining cross-sector partnerships for social impact.

Tangible Results

We believe that our decision to host our first-ever hybrid event was the right one and our member community championed the decision. The Annual Summit was supported by 14 Programming Sponsors, 16 Programming Partners, and 8 Community Partners. We had 100 in-person speakers and 83 virtual speakers speaking in 73 Mainstage sessions. We hosted 5 Strategic Dialogues with 48 speakers, and 20 Roundtables with 156 participants. And, we welcomed 9 Media Partners, including the Washington Post, POLITICO, and Yahoo Finance.

The Summit hosted over 1,700 virtual guests, with over 4,200 viewers for our YouTube videos in the first week of them being uploaded. This truly speaks to the Concordia brand and mission! As we look at numbers, it is helpful to include social media, which shows that our Twitter feed had 156,500 impressions during the Summit, while the Mainstage was also live-streamed to our website. 

This week, Concordia will release its official 2021 Annual Summit Report, which contains summaries of each Mainstage and Strategic Dialogue session, along with quotes and next steps. Reading the draft of the report last week, I was truly amazed at how many important discussions took place and how many viable and feasible solutions were born out of those discussions. We hope that you have the opportunity to read the report and see how your membership with Concordia, and how you leverage it, has an impact on a global scale.

The work didn’t stop in September, or even with the release of the report. We’re already working with our members to build on the momentum from the fall to ensure Concordia continues to strategically support the partnership and impact goals of our community. As we begin to plan our 2022 agenda, we would love to have the opportunity to speak with you to help build your partnership to success!

To learn more about Concordia membership, email membership@concordia.net