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. Here’s just a few: Instructional. Networked Facilitation.

8 Fantastic Facilitation Playbooks for Designing Productive Nonprofit Meetings

Beth Kanter

Whether our meeting is useless or valuable depends on how we design, facilitate, and follow up. If you are facilitating the meeting you need figure out logistics like scheduling, materials, and effective use of technology for virtual meetings. You also need to establish meeting norms or rules of engagement and then design and facilitate the process to get results. That’s why I’ve keep a good list of meeting facilitation playbooks handy for inspiration.


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New (Free) E-Book: Leading Systems Change Will Supercharge Your Facilitation Skills

Beth Kanter

But this is more than a simple report on a highly successful leadership program that takes a systems approach to serving an underserved community, it is the authors playbook of how to design and implement a program, including facilitation recipes for designing meetings. When I design and facilitate meeting for clients, board meetings, or as part of a workshop, webinar or other training, I’m always looking for new ideas for facilitation and interactive processes.

Methods for Facilitating Innovation in Nonprofits

Beth Kanter

Last month I had the pleasure of taking the Luma Institute Train the Trainers workshop where I got a chance to immerse in practicing facilitation techniques based on human centered design principles. The workshop instructor Peter Maher is founder and CEO, of Luma Institute , and a Jedi Master. The co-facilitator was Amy Hedrick who works in Product and Design Innovation at Intuit. Here’s a some of what I learned about facilitating innovation and train the trainers design.

The Art of Facilitating Meetings with Sticky Notes

Beth Kanter

Post-It Note Facilitation of A Network Map - 2012 Pakistan NGOs. What’s in your facilitation toolkit? Take for example my colleague Eugene Eric Kim who shares his facilitation toolkit which includes links to his favorite Post It notes and markers. When I facilitate training, I use analog and digital tools and materials. Facilitation Mine includes markers , sticky notes , index cards, and flip chart paper. But wait, paper??? And, I’m not alone.

Wikis for Curriculum Development and Instructional Materials

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

I've mostly used wikis as a personal portfolio and have participated in community or collaborative wikis facilitated by others. I have a project coming up where I'm thinking through a collaborative design for say - curriculum development, a repository for existing instructional materials,and to leverage knowledge from a group of practitioners online (aka SME) to add to the curriculum/knowledge sharing.

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. Conferences are a great opportunity to take workshops and observe the facilitator’s techniques. Many of us do this and take content notes, but it is also great to take notes about instructional design and facilitation techniques.

How To Think Like An Instructional Designer for Your Nonprofit Trainings

Beth Kanter

So, expect to see regular reflections on good instructional design and delivery for any topic, but especially digital technology and social media related. Designing and delivering a training to a nonprofit audience is not about extreme content delivery or putting together a PowerPoint and answering questions. If you want to get results, you need to think about instructional design and learning theory. And, there is no shortage of learning theories and research.

#14LCS Facilitator Series: Meet Bridget Marie Todd


That''s why we''re doing our best to recruit a remarkable group of facilitators to help shape your experience. Each track will have two Lead Facilitators and several additional Facilitators who will design spaces and lead small group conversations to make sure that every participant has the chance to both learn and share. Today we want to introduce you to one of them: Bridget Marie Todd , a Lead Facilitator for the Digital Strategy track.

Trainer’s Notebook: Facilitating Tech Training Internationally – Tips for Working with Interpreters

Beth Kanter

I’ve just returned from an inspiring week in Kiev, Ukraine where I got to facilitate a training for women’s organizations organized by Wake , an amazing start up founded by two respected colleagues Trish Tierney and Heather Ramsey. While I delivered some content sessions on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn strategy, I also facilitated interactive sessions. You have to think of your interpreters as extensions of your facilitation techniques.

Trainer’s Notebook: Finding Inspiration and New Ideas for Facilitation Techniques

Beth Kanter

Last week, during the Google hangout hosted by the Packard Foundation , someone asked me where I get all my ideas for designing and delivering training. Part of delivering instruction is being a good facilitation of people’s learning and there is no better way to learn how to improve your own technique than watching world class facilitators in action. Good participatory design and instructional design for that matter needs a closure exercise.

Social Media Trainings: How do you use pre-workshop data about your participants effectively to shape effective instruction?

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

I have a chance to reflect now on the data I've collected and think about the instructional design. I'm doing the workshop twice and I toyed with the idea of actually doing two totally different sessions, but I do not have an equal split - and I think there is value to having mixed levels in the group - if, you as the instructor, can make sure there is differential instruction.

Virtual Volunteer Mobilization Strategies That Can Solve Nonprofits’ Challenges During COVID-19

Connection Cafe

Facilitate virtual meetups, book clubs, and happy hours with special guests, like No Vet Alone is doing. Facilitate a virtual gathering for supporters to make masks together, with instructions on material to buy. Facilitate virtual mentoring, college application review, or interview skills workshop, like Mission Graduates is doing. COVID-19 is forcing nonprofits to think differently about engaging supporters.

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. Instructional Design. Co-Designing and Working with Other Facilitators and Trainers.

3 New Year’s Rituals for Nonprofits That Can Boost Professional Success

Beth Kanter

Emerging Leaders Playbook: With the generous support of the Packard Foundation and in collaboration with Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies, we wrote and published the Emerging Leaders Playbook last year, along with facilitating a peer learning cohort with colleague Stephanie Rudat. For 2017, we be launching an online site that includes the content and facilitator guides so that any nonprofit or trainer can provide leadership development for emerging nonprofit leaders.

NTEN Leading Change Summit #14lcs: Reflection

Beth Kanter

Last week I facilitated the “ Impact Leadership Track ” at the NTEN Leading Change Summit with John Kenyon, Elissa Perry, and Londell Jackson. Here’s what I learned: Facilitation Teams. A good facilitator knows how to shift or tweak the lesson plan in real time if it isn’t working as planned. Often, facilitation teams are brought together by an event host. Are there facilitation skills/techniques that you enjoy and are great at doing?

Icebreakers for Online Meetings That Introverts Will Love

Beth Kanter

In my work as a trainer and facilitator, I make workshops and master classes as interactive as possible, incorporating peer discussion, movement, and creativity. But it isn’t impossible, if you follow best practices for virtual facilitation for meetings. One design important instructional principle for trainings and meetings, whether online or face-to-face, is to start off with a fun way to ease into the work. The next step is to facilitate a discussion.

Strengthening program evaluation in your nonprofit

ASU Lodestar Center

The evaluator takes on many roles: facilitator, technical expert, and sometimes a shoulder to cry. Illustration by Jocelyn Ruiz. posted by Veera Tervola Morrison Spring 2020 Alumna, ASU Master of Nonprofit Leadership & Management.

Trainer’s Notebook: Making Accommodations In Workshops

Beth Kanter

Last week I facilitated a workshop in Detroit hosed by Co-Act , a nonprofit collaboration space in Detroit. I modify instructions or make accommodations for physical disabilities. In any of my instructions for any interactive activities, I always tell people that it isn’t required to move around or stand – do what they comfortable doing and modify. I made this part of the instructions.

Accessible eBooks for Equal Opportunity

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Although legal and regulatory requirements stipulate that schools must provide accessible ‘equivalent’ resources for students with disabilities, in practice the majority of these students do not have equal access to textbooks and other instructional materials that make up the primary resources of the general curriculum. Kevin Leong was in kindergarten when he experienced an organic brain injury that forced him to relearn everything from walking to using the bathroom.

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Trainer’s Notebook: Group Polling Techniques and Tools and Incorporating Movement

Beth Kanter

Last week, in addition to giving the ending keynote and facilitating a design lab for the Arts Brain Trust at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference , I was a participant in a pre conference convening expertly facilitated by Jennifer Edwards who is an organizational development consultant, dancer, and teacher. As a trainer, it is always great to experience someone else facilitating so you can have empathy for participants, get some new ideas or reflect on your trade craft.

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Webinars: Designing Effective Learning Experiences

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

The content is important, but it is only half of the instructional design task. It has been over six years since I designed and delivered my first webinar/conference call, “ Designing Effective Technology Training Workshops for Nonprofits &# with NTEN. Because webinars were a new medium to trainers, I used Richard Mayer’s research on multi-media learning based on understanding how the brain works and the ability to pay attention to guide the instructional design.

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Nonprofit Technology Training: Book List

Beth Kanter

I love all aspects instructional design and facilitation , but being a good trainer also means being a good content curator and resource librarian. I usually draw from these sources to create “instructional resources” for any workshop or class I teach. Here’s an example from a recent webinar on training. ” So, I like to share a few of my favorites that I have inspired me in my instructional/training practice.

Designing Transformative Communications Capacity Building Programs for Nonprofits

Beth Kanter

We asked participants to do a “think and write” and jot down one idea that resonated before facilitating a grand synthesis of what we learned about designing more impactful capacity building programs for grantees. You can read my guest post over the Communications Network Blog that summarizes these insights.

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) Is Going into Full Effect – Are You Ready?

Connection Cafe

During this time, many nonprofits reviewed their email marketing programs for compliance, and Blackbaud ensured all of our products used to send email facilitated your ability to do so. And there is very specific instruction provided for language that must be included under CASL, regardless of whether the email collection method is electronic or paper.

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Buying an LMS? Acronyms You Must Know (Part 1)


AICC- Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee: A standard that facilitates proper communication between the course content and the learning management system. CFR, CFR Part 11, 21 CFR Part 11 – Code of Federal Regulations: US Federal Drug Administration regulations on electronic records, signatures, audit trails and password instructions for pharmaceutical, clinical/biomedical organizations’ software solutions including LMS.

Trainer’s Notebook: The Digital Nonprofit: A Participatory Workshop

Beth Kanter

Last week at the IFC-Asia , I co-designed and facilitated a 90 minute workshop with Marco Kuntze titled “ The Digital NGO: The Journey from Paper to Screen.” ” Jo Wolfe, Aseem Thakur, Gillian Tan, Cherisse Beh, Katie Bengaard, and Toral Cowieson joined our session as small group facilitators. Four Corners/Brainstorm Small Group Facilitation. It is also important to have an experienced facilitator for the small group.

Happy New Year: What’s Your Theme for the Year?

Beth Kanter

Facilitator for Learning Network: Most of my work is designing and delivering capacity building projects for nonprofits literally all over the world and here in the US. In addition, I presented a webinar on training design and facilitated a session on nonprofit technology training design at NTC. I wrote many posts on instructional design for nonprofit training , including this wrap up post from our NTEN NTC session on teaching and learning for nonprofits.

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

Beth Kanter

As a long-time trainer, professor, and teacher, I feel strongly that interactive learning activities – going beyond the death by Powerpoint Lecture – is the key to retention and application for participants. Your room set up can support your instructional activities that engage participants or get in the way. Classroom style with desks puts a barrier between the students and the instruction, especially when people are using laptops or tablets to take notes.

Happy, Healthy 2016: What’s Your Theme for the Year?

Beth Kanter

I also designed and facilitated a six month peer learning cohort with colleague Stephanie Rudat. Innovation Lab Facilitation : For the past few years, I’ve trained in and designed and facilitated innovation labs using the Luma Institute Methods. This year I facilitated several labs, including one for the Brainerd Foundation to rethink 21 st Century Advocacy. Facilitation, Curriculum Development and Train the Trainers. Happy New Year !

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Four Tips To Boost Your Personal Resilience While Doing Nonprofit Work

Beth Kanter

Above all, silence facilitates clear and creative thinking and quiets negative thoughts. Here’s some step-by-step or eye-by-eye instructions. Photo by Amanda/Flicker. I am thrilled to be presenting with my colleague, Ananda Leeke in Boston next week at the Resilience at Work Conference. We will be doing early morning sessions to engage participants in some mindful moment and movement exercises.

Ways To Use Zoom Breakout Rooms To Increase Meeting Engagement

Beth Kanter

As the facilitator or meeting host, you can also judge whether you have allowed for enough time by watching the note-taking process in the google document. You could give the instructions ahead time and ask people to bring an objective meeting they want to share that represents their connection to your nonprofit (a good exercise for board members). . 1-2-4-All: This facilitation process comes from Liberating Structures.

Six Tips for Evaluating Your Nonprofit Training Session

Beth Kanter

I’m co-facilitating a session on Nonprofit Training Design and Delivery with colleagues John Kenyon, Andrea Berry, and Cindy Leonard at the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference on Friday March 14th at 10:30 am! Evaluation is one of my favorite parts of the instructional design or training process. I use a simple exercise at the end of every training session I facilitate that asks the participants to reflect on what they learned and how they will apply it.

Flexible Space: The Secret To Designing Powerful Training

Beth Kanter

So, expect to see regular reflections on good instructional design and delivery for any topic, but especially technology related. The instructional design included different delivery methods: interactive lecture with slides and whiteboard, facilitation with sticky notes, small group exercises, posters, group discussion, self-directed activities, and self-directed online activities. Have you facilitated a training in a flexible space?

A Crash Course in Design Thinking for Network Leadership Skills

Beth Kanter

The lab was facilitated by Heather Mcleod-Grant and Justin Ferrell , Director of Fellowships at the Stanford d-School. The session was an introduction to design thinking methods and to generate ideas for instructional modules for networked leadership development. Which comes from the Participatory Facilitator’s Guide. Participants would have clickers and would be instructed to click every time they felt some discomfort.

Trainer’s Notebook: The Feng Shui of Good Teaching and Learning

Beth Kanter

So, expect to see regular reflections on good instructional design and delivery for any topic, but especially technology related. This is a very important concept for instructional design -the way the room is set up effects how people learn. I strongly believe that a workshop, panel, master class, or even a keynote that is interactive is more engaging, people pay attention, they make connections to what they already know and are far more likely to apply it.

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Bringing Millions of Books to Billions of People: Making the Book Truly Accessible

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. Miraculously, the world’s countries came together and successfully negotiated the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.” I believe in the power of books to change the world.

Digital Analytics Basics: Free Online Academy from Google

Beth Kanter

They are also working on software that uses this approach in the classroom and takes the passivity and lectures out of classroom instruction. In the 60 minutes piece, it is referred to the flipped classroom or peer instruction a mindset that directs attention away from teachers and puts it squarely on the students and their learning. For more about the techniques, see the Peer Instruction Blog: Turn to Your Neighbor is written by Julie Schell , a researcher for Eric Mazur.

The Happy Healthy Nonprofit Book: Upcoming Activities and Early Reviews

Beth Kanter

Several participants mentioned that they would like to facilitate a process like this their staff as a starting point for developing self-care and we-care strategies. When writing a book, the best part for me is developing instructional workshops and keynotes and I am excited to see how nonprofits put some of the ideas into practice. Credit: Rob Cottingham.

Trainer’s Tip: Your Room Set Up Can Make or Break the Learning Experience

Beth Kanter

Yesterday, I spent a day facilitating leadership workshops for arts leaders attending the Art House Convergence Conference near Park City, Utah. As a long-time trainer, professor, and teacher, I feel strongly that interactive learning activities – going beyond the death by Powerpoint Lecture – is the key to retention and application for participants. Your room set up can support your instructional activities that engage participants or get in the way.

Happy New Year: What’s Your Theme for the Year?

Beth Kanter

International Training Work: Most of my work is designing and delivering capacity building projects for nonprofits literally all over the world. This past year I had the honor of facilitating an intense training in Tunisia in January for Women Entrepreneurs that included leadership, entrepreneurship, business planning, and communications. I also designed and facilitated a nonprofit leadership institute at Pepperdine University.

How To Apply Social to Education and Learning


You have to know how to apply them to instructional design. Make social a part of the instructional design of your programs. Most importantly, pair your subject matter experts with a facilitator who can run the backchannel activity. Watch for new voices, too, who could serve as facilitators for your formal programs. Do you work in the Education department? Why do busy professionals turn to social media? For professional development, of course.

Playing the Social Media Game with 100 Bay Area Nonprofits

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

Last week, I had the opportunity facilitate a " Social Media Strategy Map " workshop for over 100 Bay Area nonprofits. One of the things that is essential to good instruction (or presentation) is knowing your audience. Every time I present or facilitate a workshop, I review the web sites and social media ant trails (social media properties) of participants. . It's a shift from sage on the stage instruction to honoring the learners for what they know.

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