March 6, 2008

More People, More Organizations

I'm working on a report for Grassroots Grantmakers - getting into the full report writing mode that requires compiling things, counting things, and thinking about trends.

Grassroots Grantmakers has been hosting "topical conference calls" for ten years or more, with good records on topical call participation for the last five years. I have been involved with topical calls for many of those years, and directly managing them for four years. It felt like something was happening in 2007 - more energy, more interest - but I was amazed when I looked at 2007 in light of previous years:
  • 294 people registered for topical calls in 2007 - that's an increase of more than 300% from our previous best year. And, many of these 294 people participated in more than one topical call.

  • These people represented 210 different organizations - that's four times as many different organizations from our previous best year.

We offered a few more calls in 2007 than in previous years and continued to tweak the registration process and call format, but such tweaks are typical for us - nothing there to fully explain the jump in interest in 2007.

I'm wondering if what we're seeing says something about a shift - dare I say a trend - that extends beyond the funding world where we spend most of our time. I'm wondering if more people and organizations are rediscovering the essential role that people play in bringing change to their own communities, and are seeing that it is time to invest in strategies that are based on people, not programs? And, if that is true, I'm also curious about the role that Grassroots Grantmakers can play in supporting - no, encouraging - this rediscovery.

What does our jump in topical call interest suggest to you? Do you also sense a shift?

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