Impact Space is a collaborative, participant-driven event for campaigners and fundraisers from across Europe, run by digital mobilisation agency more onion.
Relaunched as Impact Space in 2020, our events draw on tried and tested methodologies to craft a unique agenda, shaped by the interests, skills and needs of the participants.
Impact Space 2021
Our hope was to relaunch with a bigger than ever event in Berlin in 2020, but unfortunately 2020 has had other ideas. While we plan to return with a face-to-face event in the autumn of 2021, we’ll be running a series of online events in early 2021. If you’d like to be the first to hear about what’s coming, please sign up for email updates.
Why are we changing the name to Impact Space?
We hope the new name will help us reach a wider audience in Europe, including fundraisers as well as campaigners, and highlighting its powerful Open Space format. We’ve grown the event over time, and want to be able to give more people the chance to try this powerful learning experience.
We hope to build a stronger structure to support the event and keep it rooted in the digital campaigning and fundraising community. This will involve setting up a steering group/wider input group to help steer the event’s objectives and content, with a view to helping ensure it stays relevant and accountable to the community it serves.
We also hope to apply for sponsorship or grant funding to set up a participation fund, allowing us to include more grassroots campaigners and increase diversity.
What’s different about Impact Space?
Apart from a couple of invited guest speakers (and we’d love to hear participants’ ideas about who they should be!) the Impact Space agenda is created by the participants.
Of course human beings have been learning by hanging out together since human beings existed. But we use a number of tried-and-tested formats, including Open Space, to help make sure we maximise the chance of bringing out interesting learning and connections, and make the best use of the time. So while the agenda might look empty to start with, don’t worry. We’ll take you step by step through an orderly process to create great event content. Check out the 2019 agenda to get a sense of how it comes together.
As well as Open Space sessions the agenda includes:
‘Ignite style’ talks – short, time-limited talks to all participants. They’re a great chance to showcase a campaign, share learnings or failures, or share a provocation to feed into a later discussion session.
Parallel presentations – longer presentations, running in parallel to offer participants a choice of topics.
Teach in – workshop style sessions where you can share a skill or try out a learning exercise with an eager group.
Speedpitching – a chance for suppliers and agencies to literally ‘set out their stall’ in fast 5m ‘pitches’ to small groups over drinks. This is a fun and productive format, as the pressure’s on to keep the pitches fun and useful. It also allows us to have a strict ‘no sales talk’ rule for the rest of the event.
Skillshare dating – what do you know a lot about? What do you wish you knew more about? We’ll help pair you up with people who need what you have, and have what you need!
What is Open Space and how does it work?
Open Space Technology has been around since the 1980s and has been used to organise small meetings to large multi-day conferences with hundreds of participants.
At Impact Space we use an adapted version of Open Space, in combination with the other formats above, to build a participant-led agenda with a strong structure, and plenty of changes of pace through the day.
Open Space operating principles
Whoever comes are the right people
You don’t need lots of people; just people who care
Only one? Maybe use the time to reflect on what you’ve learnt so far
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
About letting go of expectations: coulds, shoulds; whatever is, is; work with it
You’ve got your objectives for the event – find a way to achieve them
When interesting stuff starts is the only time it could have started
Creativity does not happen according to a schedule
When it’s over, it’s over
Done in 10 minutes? Great! Move on.
If it’s not over, keep going until you’re done – reconvene in another session.
The Law of 2 Feet: Move when it is right for you
- Move when you are neither learning nor contributing
- It’s up to you to take a stand get your own needs met
- If someone is hogging air-time, vote with your feet
- Be a bumblebee: Cross-pollinate ideas, it’s fine to move from group to group.
Don’t underestimate butterflies: look delicate; deceptive impact. Sit down and have a quiet, reflective talk with that person sitting by themselves; a chance remark may impact your thinking and you take it back into the larger group and it affects others
Irritated by people who never participate in sessions? Know they do serve a useful purpose. You’re one of them? Don’t need to feel guilty about it – in open space you’re valued.
Be prepared to be surprised. Never before and never again will this group be together – so make the most of it!.
What actually happens…
If you haven’t experienced Open Space before then you may well be wondering what all this means in practice. Fair enough! What do we actually DO?
The easiest way to get the hang of Open Space is to do it; most first-timers find that after the first round they understand the process clearly, and by the end of two days are wondering how they can go back to ‘normal’ conferences full of people telling you what you’re supposed to talk about!
But in the meantime (because we want you to come) here’s roughly how we do it..
1/ Gather topics
2/ Individuals come forward to turn topic ideas into session proposals
3/ Individuals pitch their proposals to the group
4/ We allocate sessions to spaces
5/ GO LEARN!
When you apply… we’ll ask you about the topics you think you’ll want to discuss. What are your challenges, areas of interest, burning questions?
At the pre-meeting…
we’ll post all those ideas up, generate more, and start to group them into themes and recurring ideas. (The pre-meeting is optional but fun and a great way to kick off your participation.) We start to generate session proposals.
During the morning of Day 1…
we’ll introduce the format to the whole group, and start to generate more session proposals. Anyone can make a session proposal and thereby offer to become a ‘convener’ – that is the ‘host’ of the ‘space’ or discussion they’re going to open. The facilitation team can help you develop or refine your proposal if you want.
At the beginning of each Open Space slot…
we’ll review the available proposals, select 5-10 and ask the conveners to ‘pitch’ their session. Each group is then allocated to a physical space in the building. The facilitation team will ensure that room allocations are displayed on a noticeboard and tweeted, so people can easily move between groups if they wish.
In each Open Space slot…
the convener hosts the space, but the groups are collectively responsible for the outcome. Each group gets a feedback sheet and a flipchart, and can decide what they wish to share back to the wider group.
And that’s it! Check out what past participants have had to say about it.