Trainer’s Notebook: Just A Few Participatory Facilitation Techniques

Beth Kanter

Recently, a colleague asked me a wonderful question: How did you learn to become a good facilitator and trainer? Evaluate your content, facilitation, and logistical skills against participant evaluations. If time is available, also do a plus/delta exercise with participants as a close out to the session. Measure, evaluate, reflect, and improve. Conferences are a great opportunity to take workshops and observe the facilitator’s techniques.

Basic Facilitation Techniques for Nonprofits

Beth Kanter

As a trainer and now adjunct professor, I’m constantly working on and honing these skills sets: assessment, instructional design, curriculum/materials development, presenting, facilitation, and evaluation. There is a lot of learn and refine in each of these areas. And that’s why I love teaching and training because it is all about the learning for both you and the participants. Networked Facilitation. Open Space and Unconference Facilitation.


Sign Up for our Newsletter

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Trending Sources

12 Ways We Made our Santa Cruz Collects Exhibition Participatory

Museum 2.0

This exhibition represents a few big shifts for us: We used a more participatory design process. Our previous big exhibition, All You Need is Love, was highly participatory for visitors but minimally participatory in the development process. Instead of a total budget of $200 for participatory elements, we spent about $4,000 on materials for participatory elements in this exhibition. Without further ado, here's what we did to make the exhibition participatory.

How grant makers and nonprofit grant recipients can do great things together with data and evaluation

Deborah Elizabeth Finn

It took Tech Networks of Networks almost two years to organize and implement a series of candid dialogues about data and evaluation for grantors and nonprofit grantees, and now it’s complete. Talking about and planning the evaluation process well before the grant begins.

Grant 52

Adventures in Participatory Audience Engagement at the Henry Art Gallery

Museum 2.0

In 2009 , students built a participatory exhibit from scratch. Thirteen students produced three projects that layered participatory activities onto an exhibition of artwork from the permanent collection of the Henry Art Gallery. What I Learned Part 1: Facilitation is Powerful When I taught this class the first time, I put a real premium on the idea of designing participatory activities that were visitor-driven and required minimal or no facilitation.

Facilitating Creative Learning (for Professionals): More Notes on MuseumCamp

Museum 2.0

Last week, I focused on the 2014 theme (social impact assessment) and the many creative evaluation projects produced by campers. I first learned about this technique from Sam Kaner''s excellent book, Facilitator''s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. Tag Team the Facilitation. To me, this is analogous to the benefits of having multiple staff members engaged with community partners on participatory projects.

Trainer’s Notebook: Using Dot Voting Online

Beth Kanter

When I facilitate meetings or workshops for nonprofits, not matter the topic, I incorporate many participatory approaches and design thinking methods. The technique helps you need to evaluate the ideas. Facilitation Training Design

Advice: An Exhibition about Talking to Strangers

Museum 2.0

You can explore the project wiki where we coordinated the exhibit, including the project overview , our six-week plan to get it all done, and individual sections for development of concept , content , interaction , graphics , marketing , fabrication , installation , and evaluation. There is also a final evaluation report available for download, which offers lots of great quantitative and qualitative content about what visitors did in the exhibit.

2020: The Year that Changed Grantmaking

Connection Cafe

Grants management software (GMS) is the lifeblood of most foundations — providing tools for collecting, reviewing, and choosing grant proposals, and the data to evaluate their impact. 2020 will be remembered as the year that changed grantmaking.

Change 204

Everyone's Smithsonian: Video, Slides, and an Open Strategic Planning Process

Museum 2.0

Two weeks ago, I conducted a participatory exhibit design workshop with staff at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Every program, old and new, should be evaluated against the mission (and the business model) for soundness. future, you can also see the passion of different groups that feel underrepresented or unheard in the evaluation comments. I love that the new media team published these evaluations and responded to the individual comments.

Pointing at Exhibits, Part 2: No-Tech Social Networks

Museum 2.0

The Race exhibit served as a facilitation of potential dialogue based on a very simple finger-based exchange. If we think about network effects not in terms of data collection but in terms of a useful outcome for visitors and institutions, we can design platforms that reflect our participatory values. What "no-tech" visitor actions or interrelations reflect your participatory goals? Tags: exhibition Talking to Strangers design participatory museum

How To Be A Wizard at Tech Training: NTC 2016 Session

Beth Kanter

In a couple of weeks, one of the sessions I’m facilitating at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Jose is called “ How To Be A Wizard at Tech Training.” Whether you are facilitating a session with your board, staff, or hundreds of folks in a room, you’ll find ways to design instructional content that interests, engages, and inspires action. Co-Designing and Working with Other Facilitators and Trainers. Facilitation Methods and Techniques.

Trainer’s Notebook: The Importance of Hands-On Learning

Beth Kanter

Going beyond content delivery, I also use a lot of participatory and hands-on learning techniques to help students gain a deeper understanding. I always create a lesson plan, a more detailed agenda, that includes topics, bullet points, timings, processes, and materials, even if I am the only one facilitating the class. More importantly, after every class I facilitate, I do a debrief with students as part of evaluating the training.

Open Source Strategic Planning

Beth Kanter

Next, consultants helped facilitate an asynchronous process involving a wide set of stakeholders using an online wiki to write and edit sections of the plan. Ultimately, she realized that the highly participatory process resulted in a robust strategic plan that articulated goals and initiatives through 2015 to stabilize infrastructure, increase participation, improve quality, and encourage innovation.

Can Stories Be Data?

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

When the issue of interest moves from measurement for accountability/compliance to #evaluation for learning from Karcsig. Last week at the Packard Foundation, I participated in a conversation with Peter Laugharn, the Executive Director of Firelight Foundation about participatory learning agendas. This approach is not about counting dollar signs, but about feedback loops which is discussed in Michael Quinn Patton’s new book on Developmental Evaluation.

Story 109

Social Media, Networking, and African Women’s Leadership Training in Rwanda

Beth Kanter

My sessions were integrated into the various leadership, visioning process for women’s rights, curriculum development, and evaluation methods modules throughout the week as networked and social media skills were not the main focus. This design was a participatory process and was intended to provide an opportunity for deep reflective process. Here’s a few facilitation techniques that I learned from documenting the session.

The Impact of Your Donation: Leah Horn, 14LCS Scholarship Recipient Shares


Plus, my track facilitators were great!) I also did an evaluation of all of our sites to help assess whether or not we are meeting our users'' needs and if any simple improvements could be made to improve their overall user experience.


The 2016 Best Nonprofit Conferences Calendar


Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Nonprofits Assistance Fund for this fifth annual day-long conference will offer insights, strategies and tools for staff and board members looking at your organization’s financial sustainability from diverse perspectives – from strategy and oversight to implementation and evaluation. Less a conference than a facilitated retreat, the 2016 gathering will encourage the active and full engagement of all participants.

The Mobilisation Journal: A Way To Spread Learning About Social Change Movements Innovative Use of Technology

Beth Kanter

I’ve been following it for a while now and it is very inspiring on many different levels. The laboratory gives Greenpeace and its partners a space to design, test, iterative, and roll out new strategies and techniques for participatory campaigns or what has been called “People Powered.” Assessments and Review :: evaluating past performance to inform future mobilisation efforts.

Is “Ambient Data” from Social Media Channels Useful for Funders?

Beth Kanter

The convening used participatory methods to identify topics for small group conversations related to the theme and was expertly facilitated by Allen Gunn from Aspiration. ( I wrote a reflection last week about the facilitation techniques here ). I got to facilitate a deep dive with a dozen folks and here are the takeaways from the discussion. We brainstormed a few: Real-Time evaluation of communications strategy for a nonprofit or foundation.

Can Stories Be Data?


When the issue of interest moves from measurement for accountability/compliance to #evaluation for learning – from Karcsig. Last week at the Packard Foundation, I participated in a conversation with Peter Laugharn, the Executive Director of Firelight Foundation , about participatory learning agendas. Beth has over 30 years working in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, capacity building, evaluation, fundraising, and marketing. By Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog.

Story 50

Guest Post by Gaurav Mishra: The 4Cs Social Media Framework

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

Terms like social media, digital media, new media, citizen media, participatory media, peer-to-peer media, social web, participatory web, peer-to-peer web, read write web, social computing, social software, web 2.0, The second C, Collaboration, refers to the idea that social media facilitates the aggregation of small individual actions into meaningful collective results. The Need for the 4Cs Social Media Framework.

Visitor Studies Association Replaces Keynotes with Dialogue

Museum 2.0

A person is randomly designated as the facilitator for a 15 minute discussion on each of the topics in the envelope. It will be interesting to see how people react to the conference and whether they feel valued or put upon in the participatory sessions. The VSA will be doing post-conference evaluations to find out. It’s not often I wake up and think: I wish I could go to another conference this summer. In Houston. In July.

Mobile Innovations for Social Good


An academic-community partnership, the project brings together immigrant day laborers, scholars, software developers, and community organizers for participatory design, curriculum development, evaluation and research around this emerging media tool and its social impact. Amy Sample Ward, NetSquared.