What is The Lab?

At The Lab, ComNet17 attendees have the chance to meet one-on-one with companies who are transforming the way we communicate for an interactive lesson on how their game-changing products and tools, combined with a powerful vision, can change the way we see the world.

These meetings will empower you to learn how to use (or better use) a communications product or program, while establishing a valuable professional connection.  This is a great opportunity for future partnerships or collaborations.

Key information about The Lab:

  • Unlike many conference exhibition spaces, The Lab is structured around appointments.
  • The Lab will take place from 8:45am to 5:30pm on Thursday, September 28, 2017.  
  • Each meeting will last 20min.



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Why should you meet with us?

“Let’s talk about race” is something many communications professionals would rather avoid. With a trusted media voice at the helm — and years of experience due to the success of the Race Card Project — the Bridge can help.  Our tools can help you create a safe, common space where staff, community members, boards and more can discover how race, culture and identity impact your community in ways that aren’t always easy to see. We can help you connect and engage in productive conversations and make important decisions about workplace environment, inclusion and even hiring practices.

This seems like a straightforward concept. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. We’ve found a way to get folks to open up, talk across difference and start to listen to each other. We want to help you get those same results. Find out more about how you can have the real conversations no one ever wants to talk about, but are critical to the work you’re doing.

What can we offer you?

We’ve developed tools that can provide an entry point into the conversation around race and identity – topics that are often critical for social change, especially in the current climate of racial violence, immigration battles, gender roles and sexual identity awareness.

From our BRIDGEBOX tool, a customized card deck culled from more than 50,000 stories that reveal snapshots of what life is like for all Americans, to a user-friendly online portal that allows you to showcase your narratives — the Bridge can help your nonprofit or foundation start a dialogue about race, identity and inclusion within your organization, with grantees or in your communities of practice. Our goal is to help you encourage dialogue and create content from the varying views you’re trying to highlight that can be shared internally and externally through your communication vehicles.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • Wondering how to even start the “race” conversation?
  • Curious about how to get grantees, staff and/or community partners to have an honest conversation about color, creed or culture (and have it go somewhere)?
  • Want to tap into all the untold truths people have about themselves and each other?
  • Wondering how to start to engage around your internal diversity goals?
  • Need to show grantees how they can – and should – start to address race and disparity in their work?

About us

The Bridge is the Aspen Institute’s program on race, cultural identity and inclusion. Powered by the Peabody Award-winning Race Card Project™ founded by former NPR Journalist Michele Norris, the goal is to access the stories, people and threads that make up our complex cultural landscape...and then engage Americans to talk across those differences.


Why should you meet with us?

We are here to help you navigate a new political world in America. While it might not feel like it, the work of non-profits is even more vital and relevant than ever – but the pressures are even greater to tell your story, show your impact and get people to care. Come connect with two communications pros who can make it easier and fun. Ben and Erin have thrived under the highest pressure of White House communications – and they now help nonprofits succeed in their own missions through winning messaging and media campaigns. We can connect today’s political world to yours.

What can we offer you?

Want to not just survive but thrive in a politically threatening environment for non-profits? Worried about how to show the impact of your work so that you can maintain financial support? Wondering how to make sense of a media world in which the media themselves are a target? Come get some answers by making a connection with Ben Feller and Erin Pelton of Mercury. In their respective roles as a former chief White House correspondent and a former communications director at both the White House and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ben and Erin have the perspective and expertise to help you succeed. We can't wait to chat with you.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • How can we make the story of our organization more compelling to others?
  • How do we improve the writing and pitching of my communications team?
  • How do we succeed in an atmosphere of government skepticism or hostility toward our work?
  • How do we turn our non-profit jargon into plain English?
  • How do we hook the media?
  • How do we show our relevance in a way that breaks through
  • How do we reach those audiences we can never seem to reach?

About us

Mercury is a strategic communications consultancy that helps organizations craft their messaging and get smart, strategic coverage from national and international media. We also train communicators on how to have even sharper skills in writing, storytelling, digital media and reporter relations. Mercury has a particular passion for helping mission-driven enterprises. We distinguish ourselves by having senior talent deeply engaged in each project from start to finish. The outcomes of our work include comprehensive answers for all kinds of clients, from foundations to advocacy organizations to Fortune 500s.


Why should you meet with us?

Meet us at The Lab to discuss how the four pillars of a successful digital strategy – your organizational goals, your audience's' motivations, the content that can connect them, and the tools that can tie everything together – can help create real world change.

What can we offer you?

We build websites and develop digital strategies for nonprofits and mission-driven organizations. Because we know websites are simply tools to affect social change, because we know an online platform can only succeed when it's part of a broader digital engagement strategy, our work is built atop a strong foundation of content strategy, data analysis, and user­-centered design. While we love large, complex technical projects, we believe that small, grassroots organizations deserve great websites, too. That’s why we built Bene: a low cost website for small nonprofits bundling content management, mission critical features, a tailored user experience, and strategic support, all built on an open source platform that can grow alongside the organization.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • Want to understand what your analytics are telling you

  • Curious about how best to tell your story online?

  • Wondering if it's worth it to integrate your CRM with your website?
  • Interested in integrating your fundraising solution directly into your website?
  • Need a budget-friendly website tailored to your organization’s specific needs, but are unsure where to look?
  • Hoping to discuss how content strategy should relate to organizational strategy?
  • Looking for someone to talk to about what can help make a technology project successful?

About us

At ThinkShout, we craft compelling open source solutions in partnership with forward ­thinking clients like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Humane Society of the United States. Since our founding in 2011, our focus has been on building a company that is generous to its staff, its clients, and the community. In 2015, we formalized this commitment by achieving B Corp certification, allowing us to embrace a framework and global movement that makes intentional choices to put people and the planet above profit.


Why should you meet with us?

Schedule time with Constructive if you’d like to learn how to move on from making ineffective PDFs to deepening online engagement with beautifully designed, high-impact digital content that significantly increases the reach and impact of your reports, research, and publications.

What can we offer you?

For 17 years, Constructive has specialized in helping social change organizations unite brand strategy and digital to advance their missions. We bring deep expertise helping social change thought leaders such as foundations think tanks, and research-driven organizations increase their impact by making complex content more accessible, engaging, and actionable.

At the Lab, we’ll be offering advice on how organizations who publish significant content can improve their publishing workflows, content and design strategies, and their technology and tools. We will also be showcasing Exposition—our new digital-first reports and publications solutionthat replaces static PDFs with beautifully-designed digital experiences to dramatically increase the reach, impact, and value of your content. 

Come on by, we'd love to help!

What questions can we help you answer?

  • How can we make our content-heavy website more engaging?

  • How do we move away from creating static PDFs of our reports and publications?

  • How can digital-first publishing streamline operations, reduce costs, and increase flexibility?
  • What strategic insights and benefits can we get from digital-first publications that PDFs fail to deliver?
  • How can we make our data more widely available to the field as interactive visualizations and tools?

About Us

Constructive is a boutique brand strategy and experience design firm that works exclusively with social change brands to create a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world. Combining the strategic insights of a brand consultancy with the creativity and technical expertise of a digital agency, we're collaborative thought partners who offer rare expertise across strategy, design, and technology to co-create brand experiences that help our clients stand up, stand out, and stand for something.


Why should you meet with us?

Let’s step into the shade! You’ve launched a new website, revamped your brand, and developed an outreach strategy to better connect with your audience. You feel like you’re doing all the right things, but you’re not getting the reaction you’d hoped (or planned!) for. Stop by the Forum One lab for a free consultation to better understand where your strategies are either working well or perhaps missing the mark. We’ll also provide you with practical advice for you to optimize your efforts going forward.

What can we offer you?

With expertise in open source solutions as well as cutting-edge design, Forum One helps foundations and nonprofits reach their communication goals. From learning how to effectively communicate large datasets, to implementing complex, smart technical solutions, Forum One has both the agency and subject matter expertise that allows organizations to put their best foot forward and create the impact their mission needs.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • How can I effectively measure the impact of my communications activities?
  • How can I make data-driven design decisions for my organization’s website?
  • How do I insight action from our data sets?
  • If you are looking for ways to increase your organization’s digital impact, be sure to chat with Forum One’s strategic experts.

About us

Forum One is a full-service digital agency that works with mission-driven organizations to create the stunning designs, smart messaging, and custom-built technology tools they need to realize their goals and extend their influence in the areas they care most about. Forum One works closely work nonprofits and foundations such as the American Red Cross, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Peace Corps.


Why should you meet with us?

Our team would love to learn about the narrative challenge that your foundation is facing and discuss how that can be overcome with a data-driven strategy.

What can we offer you?

Protagonist has helped communications leaders at major foundations understand the full range of narratives at play in their area of interest, use those insights to influence beliefs about key issues and then evaluate the effectiveness of their communications and programs. We do this through technology we've developed and applied over the past 10 years that combines natural language processing and machine learning with deep human expertise.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • Have a narrative challenge?
  • Looking for the unseen levers that drive change?
  • Want to understand how to better use 'big data' to inform your communications efforts? Come chat with us.

About us

Protagonist is the leader in Narrative Analytics. The company helps leading foundations, brands and government organizations surface deeply-held beliefs in public discourse, quantify their impact, and devise data-validated strategies to use those narratives to the client’s advantage.


Why should you meet with us?

Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement and Tweets with images earn 150% more retweets. We live in an increasingly visual world. Be it photography or video, learn best practices for how nonprofits and foundations can create credible, authentic visual narratives that have the power to change minds and drive action.

What can we offer you?

Verbatim’s team of award-winning photojournalists and documentary filmmakers have the credibility and experience to handle sensitive, complex social issues. Collectively, the Verbatim team has tackled every global humanitarian and social issues of our time.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • How can I up the ante with regard to my organization's overall visual brand strategy?
  • How can I learn how authentic, journalistically-driven imagery can help me reach a wider audience, increase social sharing and ultimately inspire action around social responsibility?
  • What’s the most strategic way to get amazing imagery/video on a tight budget? (We've literally produced thousands of photo/film shoots around the globe and have learned a trick two along the way!)
  • How can I authentically amplify my social impact initiatives through imagery and film without it feeling in any way like "marketing material"?

About us

Verbatim partners with organizations, foundations and NGOs to craft and create powerful, journalistically-driven visual narratives around social responsibility, philanthropic, and cause-related initiatives.


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Why should you meet with us?

We can help you improve your understanding of what reporters and editors are working on will help you send pitches that get results.

What can we offer you?

We're seeking opinion writers, advice pieces, ideas for data projects, news stories and much more so we can provide people in philanthropy the most comprehensive information they need to do their jobs well.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • How can I pitch ideas to The Chronicle and to other journalistic outlets?

About us

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the organization with the largest number of journalists covering foundations and nonprofits.


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Why should you meet with us?

Schedule time with us at The Lab to learn more about how we're leveraging the Airbnb community to support local nonprofit causes around the globe.

What can we offer you?

We work at the intersection of technology and social impact, leveraging the Airbnb's newest experiences platform to engage travelers and locals in nonprofit causes around the world.

What questions can we help you answer?

  • Looking for ways to engage more millennials in cause?
  • Interested in learning about how you can leverage Airbnb's technology to build an experience benefitting your nonprofit? Come chat with us!

About us

Airbnb Social Impact Experiences: connect people, foster empathy, scale impact



Do you represent a company with a game-changing product or tool that is hugely beneficial to the missions of nonprofits and foundations?  Are you interested in sharing it at The Lab during ComNet17?  Email us—info@comnetwork.org—we'd like to hear about it.