Sunrise in Mexico at Opportunity Collaboration
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The Mystery and Mastery of Opportunity Collaboration

Filed in Uncategorized — October 23, 2015

In our blog we’ve pulled back the veil on our approach and methodologies through a largely ‘plug and play’ resources and Masterclasses so you can skillfully engage the funding partners your mission deserves.

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As a former art curator, I marvel at the audacity and talent of landscape painters. How is it possible to capture such sublime majesty with humble pigment, canvas, and fine or coarse-haired brushes?

Attempting to interpret and describe the experience of Opportunity Collaboration is equally daunting. While I am no virtuoso with a pen, I feel compelled to share glimpses of this “unconference” mercifully free of PowerPoints, talking heads, and panel discussions.

While “OC” is billed as a conference centered on alleviating global poverty, all major issue areas are on the table; it is simply that poverty is underneath many of the world’s most pressing problems. The finest minds in social change — on topics such as elevating women and girls, impact entrepreneurship, awakened leadership via mindfulness, sustainable development, economic empowerment, and more — convene for four days in Mexico to take a deep dive into what’s working, share best practices, hone skills, deepen relationships, and celebrate failures (open mic “Fuck Up Night” was a feature).

Natalie Lynn Rekstad nameplate at Opportunity Collaboration 2015

Founded by Jonathan Lewis in 2009, OC’s purpose is to leverage resources and innovations, while eliminating fragmentation and traditional silos. Delegates from around the globe are fervently vetted, as OC seeks strong leaders with records of effectiveness, achievement, and an eye on the end game of tackling the complexities of poverty through collaboration.

Lizard at opportunity collaboration

An “unexpected delegate!”

While the brain trust at OC is staggering, what sets the convening apart from its glitzier counterparts is a lack of hierarchy. On some level, it mirrors the collective vision of a world based in equality. Strategically set at an all-inclusive Club Med (in sweltering off-season October), all delegates, including nonprofit founders and directors from around the globe, thought leaders and innovators, and strategic funders with millions to invest, are on equal footing, all bringing something vital to the conversation. What unifies them is a shared vision of a world where men and women lead together, children are safe and nurtured, the earth is cherished; a world where education and quality healthcare is accessible to all, varied cultures are honored, and all peoples are treated with respect and acceptance.

But the magic lies in synchronicity. “Accidental” meetings in the pool, at the beach, or the dining room tables abound, furthering global solutions to poverty, and fostering collaboration among kindreds. At last year’s OC, I had several “chance” encounters that resulted in powerful alliances, transforming Black Fox Philanthropy from a US-based consulting firm into an fiercely purposeful actor with global impact.

Jim nowak leading a talk at opportunity collaboration

My client, Jim Nowak of dZi Foundation, leading a discussion on Nepal post-earthquake.

While this may sound too good to be true, it actually gets better. Each morning, all delegates attend a “Colloquium for the Common Good” with no more than twenty participants in each. Masterfully facilitated, this confidential session drops participants from head space into heart space, a gorgeous transition that informs the rest of the day’s interactions.

Sunrise in Mexico at Opportunity Collaboration

Name tags (on beaded lanyards created by Ugandan grandmothers) feature first and last names only; no other affiliation is listed. In colloquium, it isn’t until the last day that we all openly share what it is we do in the world, and ask for what we need to move our work forward. Collaboration is rampant, with extraordinary alliances and deep friendships carried forth into the trenches of the difficult and sacred work of lifting our world.

If you would like to learn more about Opportunity Collaboration or keep up with the latest in news, you can follow OC on Twitter.