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HRFN’s Global Conference

Funding Futures Festival

24-26 April 2024

Tbilisi, Georgia

Session Submissions

HRFN’s Funding Futures Festival accepts session proposals from HRFN members, peer funders, and individuals dedicated to resourcing human rights movements. We strongly encourage collaboration with other HRFN members and community members.

There are three types of sessions: Discovery Journeys, Open Gallery, and Lightning Talks. Session organizers can submit multiple proposals for the same or different session types. If selected, session organizers will have the option to update their session information. HRFN’s team will provide support with set-up, materials, and interpretation needs. 

Proposals should be submitted by funders who are eligible to register for HRFN’s Festival. Movement and civil society organizations can be included in session proposals and are welcome to participate in Open Gallery and Discovery Journey sessions hosted by registered organizations.  See Festival FAQs for more details on eligibility and registration.

See below the guidelines for session types, format, and criteria. 

Key Dates

  • 17 November: Session submissions open
  • 15 January: Deadline to submit session proposals
  • 29 January: Notification of submission status
  • 15 February: Deadline to confirm participation
  • 7 March: Deadline to send final session information 

Language and accessibility

  • Session submissions are accepted primarily in English. However, you are welcome to submit your proposal in the language that is most comfortable for you.
  • Simultaneous interpretation in English/Georgian, and English closed captioning, will be available during the plenaries and Lightning Talks. Please let us know if interpretation into other languages, including sign language, would be helpful for you.
  • We will do our best to make interpretation available for Discovery Journeys upon request. Please include information about the interpretation needs of any presenters in your session submission form.
  • Please share any additional accessibility requests for presenters in your submission form. HRFN will aim to ensure locations and sessions are accessible to all participants.

Registration for session organizers

  • We encourage early registration for the Festival. Register!
  • For accepted sessions, 3 spaces will be reserved for Discovery Journey session organizers. 
  • HRFN cannot guarantee enough spaces for organizations or collaborations that wait to register until after 15 February 2024.


Session Name Format Link
Open Gallery Exhibition Here
Discovery Journeys Group session Here
Lightning Talks Presentation Here

Open Gallery

Curated exhibition space to share ideas, resources, reports, and visuals. We invite participants to showcase current and recent projects that can spark conversation and bring to life new approaches to resourcing human rights movements and work. 


  • We envision the Open Gallery more like a lively art gallery than a trade exhibition. We invite you to dust off the colorful tablecloths and bring out those artifacts and cultural pieces that make your organization’s work special.
  • Each organization may submit up to 2 proposals (individually or as part of a collaboration).
  • HRFN will provide support with the technical needs of the selected sessions. We ask for flexibility as we finalize venue details. 
  • For videos and other multimedia projects with sound, HRFN cannot guarantee a quiet place. Please keep in mind that headphones might be necessary.


Discovery Journeys

Participant-led sessions for strategizing and action. Raise hard questions, propose solutions, and bridge work across various areas of human rights in small group sessions of 10-30 people in 90 minutes. 

We encourage engaging and dynamic spaces that generate creativity and collaboration on your topic of choice. Please do not plan to just present – we encourage proposals that incorporate art, dialogue, and movement and give participants the opportunity to co-create and discover!

Some sample topics you can consider for your ‘Discover Journey’: 

  • How should we pivot when in crisis? How much do we reorient our funding when our partners are fleeing conflict? 
  • How do I adopt practices that promote racial justice with my trustees/leadership?
  • What work are we doing to bridge the trust gap across Global South and North funders? How are we accountable to our partners? 
  • What does resisting oppression look like in philanthropy, given its roots and legacy? 
  • How can we survive if our planet is burning? Can we center climate justice in everything we do?


  • Discovery Journeys are not meant to be presentations. We invite you to consider this as a peer-learning opportunity rather than a speaker/presentation role.
  • We encourage creative and dynamic session designs that allow participants to think about and participate in the topic from a different perspective. 
  • We strongly encourage cross-collaboration between organizations. You may submit a proposal as a single organization or in collaboration with others (up to 3 organizations in total). 


Lightning Talks

Share inspiring initiatives or strategies transforming philanthropy in 7 minutes or less.

We welcome a range of topics and themes. Tell us a story of change that you are leading, mistakes you’ve learned from, or powerful shifts you believe are brewing – but do it with 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. Modeled on the Pecha Kucha format, Lightning Talks will be interspersed throughout the Festival.

Some sample topics you can consider for your Lightning Talk:

  • Which strategies have you used within your institution to stand up against genocide and increasing human rights violations?
  • How are you funding narrative change to counter authoritarianism?
  • What needs to shift in philanthropy to create true equity in the distribution of human rights funding?
  • What does it mean to think long-term in philanthropy when grant cycles are typically short-term?
  • What does it look like to fund cross-collaborations at the intersection of disability justice and climate justice?
  • What are the challenges of cross-movement funding?


  • Lightning Talks are meant to be a presentation in less than seven minutes.  20 slides, 20 seconds each –  for a total of a 6-minute and 40-second presentation. This format keeps presentations concise and fast-paced.
  • Each slide must feature a mostly text-free image, though presenters may use captions. Any infographic should be brief to allow the audience to read it before the next slide advances. Use powerful, relevant images. Make sure your images are high quality and that you have permission to use them.
  • You may submit a proposal as a single organization or in collaboration with others (up to 3  organizations in total).


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