Planning a locally-led Collaborate+ event is a big task. This Organizer Guide was developed to help you think through the details to produce an engaging and effective event in your local community.

Collaborate+ Content

Each Collaborate+ toolbox includes multiple topics (presentations, discussion guides, suggested supply lists, etc.). Hosts may choose to use some or all of these topics, or modify them based on appropriateness for their setting and culture. CAFO requires hosts to use at least one topic provided in the toolbox for a forum session.

In addition to using at least one provided topic, CAFO requires each Collaborate+ forum include facilitated discussions for at least two topics. Collaborate is known as a forum for leaders to come together and discuss key topics. Each year, we receive comments like this:

"I’ve attended many conferences and listened to many speakers, but Collaborate is the only forum where I’m asked to share my opinion on these topics!"

Our attendees choose Collaborate largely because they’re asked to voice their opinions and they are listened to within facilitated conversations. The heart of Collaborate is true collaboration! Collaborate+ MUST include interactive discussions, led by trained facilitators. Facilitator training guides are included in the toolbox.

Current Collaborate+ Toolkit Topics

Hosting Wise Short-Term Missions

Engaging Government

Changing Minds and Culture Regarding Family Care

Church vs. Hotel/Conference Center

While many events are held at hotels and conference centers, CAFO encourages you to engage a local church to host the event. There is a special atmosphere of a building where prayer happens continually throughout the year. Many of your event volunteers will come from the local community of believers within the church. Encourage regular prayer for the event, the attendees, and for the vulnerable children and families that will be affected by those to attend.

Technical Needs

A successful event requires more than a building – there are several technical aspects to consider:

Working Microphones are very important

Double-check that all microphones are working, have fresh batteries and the sound system is fully functional

Slides and Projector

  • Confirm which computer will be used to host the slides and video presentation
  • Be consistent with presentation size and resolution (Does the projector support widescreen or square screen? What is the ideal resolution of the projector? HD or low res)
  • Is there a backup computer, flash or portable drive, or online access to store a full backup of the presentations and videos?


  • The audience needs to see the presenters and their presentations
  • The speakers should be lit for good photos/video

Audio/Video Recordings

  • If you are recording the audio or video, find a reputable professional to ensure a quality result
  • Consider post-event editing and production
  • How will you share the audio/video?


  • Round tables with no more than 12 chairs are ideal for small group discussions
  • Avoid theatre-style seating – this discourages interaction and collaboration
  • Create an environment for welcoming, engaging and effective small group discussions

Social Spaces

The connections during breaks and before/after the event are more important than the actual content. Create an atmosphere of collaboration and connection.

Social Space Tips and Tricks

  • Encourage side discussions throughout the event – identify locations for people to find one another, sit, discuss and meet privately
  • Create opportunities for connection that are appropriate for your local network (discussion areas by geography, areas of expertise, ministry focus, etc)
  • Encourage the sharing of contact information (but do not give away personal contact information of attendees and/or speakers without their permission)
  • Offer coaching tables on various topics to connect veteran experts with newcomers to this field

Event Planning


Estimate the costs of your event

  • Venue, including food and beverage
  • Photo and Video (before, during and after event)
  • Marketing
  • Speaker Management (lodging, food, hospitality, transport)
  • Administration
  • Audience Experience

Be accountable

  • Do not allow one person to have exclusive access to funds
  • Track all income – donations, registration fees and item sales
  • Track all expenses, with receipts if possible
  • Keep invoices in one file
  • Pay any bills on-time – add due-dates to your expense list
  • Provide reports to a leadership team for fiscal oversight
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Fundraising and Sponsorships

Define sponsorship opportunities for businesses and organizations that have a heart for vulnerable children and families.

Create Sponsor packages including options for

  • Exhibition area (for booths)
  • Lanyards and nametags
  • Program advertisements
  • Pre/Post session slides
  • Recognition on website, program and/or from stage

In-kind donations (non-cash gifts) are just as important, and may include anything that adds value to your event

  • Church donates venue, lights, and/or audio/visual for event
  • Advocates or church members volunteer to cook, usher, work information/check-in desk, technical support, etc.
  • Photography/Videography services
  • Food
  • T-shirts and/or printing
  • Gift bags items (for speakers and key volunteers)

Make sure you invite all partners (cash, sponsor and in-kind gifts) to your Collaborate+ event.

  • Send sponsors a thank-you after the event, with photos and an overview of the activities/outcomes
  • Stay in touch with sponsors throughout the year. Remember, they are not a bank account for your programs/events, but are advocates that are worthy of building a relationship over time.


Create opportunities for advocates and interested groups to volunteer during your event.

  • Registration/Check-in
  • Ushers during main sessions
  • Room Hosts for breakout sessions (give out evaluations, welcome attendees, answer questions)
  • Positioned at doors/hallways to guide attendees to their next location
  • Information Desk – central place for attendees, speakers, etc to ask any questions
  • Technical volunteers – managing lights, sound, projector, computers, recording, etc
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Speakers and Program


Create a theme for your Collaborate+ event. This will set the tone with one overarching question or statement – the theme is the title or tagline. The theme should be broad and applicable to a wide range of topics.

CAFO has used:

  • Small Matters
  • In Brokenness & Beauty
  • What Matters Most


The topics should fit your theme.  Involve a committee of people to review the topic ideas, discuss and agree upon an agenda.

*Remember to include at least one CAFO Collaborate+ topic.  (choose available topics and resources here)

Some considerations for topics

  • Ask new questions – What have your local advocates not thought about before, or haven’t thought about recently?
  • Think local – What should be discussed that applies to YOUR community or YOUR nation? What are key thinkers discussing in YOUR community?
  • Think global – What are you learning from the global community that should be shared? What could the rest of the world learn from your local community?

Choosing Speakers

Choosing the right speakers is one of the most important aspects to ensure a successful Collaborate+ event.

Focus on ideas, not speakers

  • Allow your agenda topics to define who will be invited to speak based on their connection with the idea
  • Don’t simply invite a speaker because of their position or influence
  • Research local efforts to highlight those that are uniquely serving vulnerable children and families effectively

Vet your speakers

  • Make sure they are respected and have the experience to speak on their topic
  • Talk with them about their content to make sure it agrees with evidence-based practices
  • Ask others in the community their opinion of the potential speakers
  • Make sure your speakers will not only keep the audience’s attention, but also actively engage them in discussion (remember, this is Collaborate+ so they should be collaborating throughout the day)

Choose a host: the host, or emcee, will keep things moving and share important information as the program progresses

  • Choose someone who encourages audience participation, can create an exciting atmosphere, is relatable by your audience, and communicates your network’s vision well.

Speakers Confirmed

Once a speaker has accepted your invitation, set up a time to personally speak to them:

Go over these details with your speaker

  • Explain the expectations of the event, their particular topic and how you expect them to engage the audience in discussion during their presentation
  • Work out how will they control their slides (remote or technical assistant)
  • Be clear on what (not) to wear: nothing too formal; careful of jewelry that makes noise (problems with microphones); avoid complicated patterns (could disrupt lights, photos and video); be comfortable

Event Program

Planning a flow for your event is crucial and will make the day run smoothly.

Create detailed “Run of Show” for your event

  • A minute-by-minute agenda (potentially even scripting the transitions)
  • Include technical notes and ANYTHING that you need to make sure happens on that day
  • Share a version of this with your presenters, so they know what to expect
  • Include plenty of breaks (at least 15 minutes between sessions) for rest and to encourage the conversations

Consider Emotional Flow of Event

  • Start strong – the opening session/speaker should be engaging and thought-provoking
  • Mix it up – if difficult/emotional stories are being shared, follow them with a lighter session
  • End with emotion – either a speaker that moves the audience to action or an activity that gets people involved and connected (singing and dancing are a good possibility here)
  • Leave people on a high note and feeling connected to one another

Presentation Slides

How to prepare your slides

  • Create a common slide theme that visually represents your theme and the atmosphere you want to create; use this theme for all transitions so they are consistent
  • Text size is important for the farthest away person to be able to read the slide
  • Be consistent with presentation size and resolution (widescreen or square screen, HD or low res)
  • Keep all slides on one computer with a backup of the slides easily available ( on another computer, flash or portable drive, or accessible online through Google Drive, Dropbox, etc)
  • Create a single presentation deck (in Powerpoint or another tool) so you don’t have to switch computers between presenters (and eliminate technical problems of computer and projector/audio/video issues)

Speaker slides

  • Gather speaker slides at least 2 weeks ahead of time
  • Review the speakers’ slides and work with them on cutting down content to fit their time slot
    • Less is more – less slides, less words to read, less clutter on slides
    • Use more pictures and encourage speakers to talk around those – pictures convey emotion, ideas, passion – much more than slides with a lot of words on them
    • Speakers should never simply read the words on their slides – they should speak to the ideas around the words and photos
    • Each slide should convey a single point

Pre/Post-program slides or videos

Pre/Post-program slides or videos – what is playing on the screen before and after your scheduled program

  • Potentially videos from sponsors; slides for venue information and/or event info (where to get a printed program, schedule for meals, where to gather for the bus in the afternoon, etc)

Event Day


Your event team will need to stay in contact throughout the day. Determine ahead-of-time how you will communicate together throughout the day – SMS, WhatsApp, phone calls?

Also, identify key people on your team for others to contact if there are any problems. You may need people for:

  • Technical issues
  • Registration/check-in
  • Facility
  • Food/Beverage/Snacks
  • Security
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Speaker Hospitality

Create a warm and relaxing environment for your speakers and panelists so they may focus on their presentations and discussions.

  • Set up a private room available for speaker preparation, prayer and relaxation
  • Offer water, juice, coffee/tea and snacks
  • Make sure speakers know when they are supposed to be in the room
  • Set aside time for the speakers to get their microphone and any technical issues worked out before their session

Thank You!

Consistently show gratitude to your speakers, panelists, hosts and volunteers throughout the event.

  • Greet speakers as they arrive and show them to the hospitality room
  • Thank the speakers, panelists, hosts and volunteers from the stage before you close your event
  • After the event, send a “thank you” letter to each of your speakers, panelists, volunteers and hosts – a handwritten letter is ideal, as people don’t often get those anymore
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Frequently Asked Questions

Who can access Collaborate+?

Currently, Collaborate+ is exclusively available to CAFO Global Network Members. By registering, Network Members agree to abide by the guidelines and best practices outlined by Collaborate+ guidelines.

Is there a guide available for Collaborate+ hosts?

Yes, a facilitator guide will be available for hosts after they have completed the application process.

What do I do after hosting a Collaborate+ event?

While what happens at Collaborate+ is important, what happens afterward is even more so. After the event, we hope to see attendees living out the lessons learned in their own communities and organizations. Attendees to Collaborate+ forums should be encouraged to come alongside your network to partner as champions for children. Be sure to follow up on these new relationships and partnerships through ongoing communication and feedback opportunities. CAFO has created an evaluation form to be given to each attendee as part of the Collaborate+ toolbox. Not only will feedback help Hosts Networks in future planning and partnerships, it will also help the CAFO Global Network team help our partners worldwide to better serve orphans and vulnerable children.

How do I fund Collaborate+

We recommend Host Networks seek sponsorships from member organizations and churches, local businesses, government entities, and private donors to cover the cost of Collaborate+. A limited number of challenge grants are available during the 2020-2021 grant season.

Funding Collaborate+

While CAFO provides the content and training for Collaborate+, Host Networks are solely responsible for funding their own events.

In 2020, a limited number of challenge grants are available to Network Members. Grants may be used to help alleviate administrative costs and provide scholarships to Collaborate+ forums in member countries. CAFO reserves the sole right to approve or deny challenge grant applicants and decide grant amounts. Grants are not guaranteed and are time-limited. For more information on Collaborate+ challenge grants

We recommend Host Networks seek sponsorships from member organizations and churches, local businesses, government entities, and private donors to cover the cost of Collaborate+. A limited number of challenge grants are available during the 2020-2021 grant season.

Applicants must commit to the following:

  • Events must reach a minimum of 50 attendees
  • Hosts must commit to trained facilitators for each group (one facilitator to every 8-10 people). The CAFO Global Network provides training materials in the Collaborate+ Toolbox.
  • Applicants must provide an outline of their proposed budget and venue space.
  • Impact reports will be submitted at 9 months post-event. Reports will focus on several measures of success. During the application process, a CAFO Global Network staff member will guide applicants in outlining definable measures of success which can be assessed in the post-event impact report.
  • Challenge grants are matching, meaning grantees must raise support from their local communities before CAFO will release funds.
  • Grantees also agree to submit event details within 30 day of the forum. Details will include attendance numbers, attendee list, photos, and evaluation forms.