Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Workshop Proposal FAQs

A leading to offer a workshop is a gift. There is internal, prayerful testing and external testing possibly with a group of F/friends as an offering to your Yearly Meeting or a forum at your own Meeting. Your idea may be in full bloom or it may need seasoning and additional work with a co-facilitator. Listen carefully to that still small voice.

Questions about proposing a workshop

Who do I write the workshop proposal to?

What should I include in my workshop proposal?

Will my workshop proposal be accepted?

Should I submit academic credentials?

Questions about facilitating a workshop at the Gathering

Can I select participants to balance my group if needed?

Are spaces other than classroom and lounges possible?

Can I recommend reading for participants ahead of time?

Questions about the online workshop proposal form

I want to edit a previous proposal. Why won't past proposals show up when I sign in?

I have a new email address. How do I sign in to my account?

Why do I need to create an account in order to submit a workshop proposal?

Who do I write the workshop proposal to?

The Workshop Committee reads all of the workshop proposals, and they decide which are accepted to the 2020 Gathering. When submitting a proposal it is best to write as if the readers do not know you or your work. The workshop committee changes every year, and it is possible that all the members might be strangers to you. Your words are what these strangers must use to choose between your proposal and another proposal. They don’t know your presentation style and they can’t know how you will flesh out your ideas to provide the best possible workshop for your participants.

What should I include in my workshop proposal?

More information is better. It helps if the Workshop Committee can have a clear sense of what it would be like to attend your proposed workshop.We recommend writing a detailed description of under 1,000 words.

It should include the following:

• Your expectations and objectives for the week.

• A list of the specific areas or topics that you expect to cover. For some workshops this might include things that the workshop will NOT cover.

• A rough description of the format. This might include an estimate of the time to be spent in worship (most groups find 20 to 40 minutes daily gives good spiritual grounding), field trips you anticipate, writing activities (poetry, journaling, etc.), or other activities (role play, guided meditation, lecture, interactive exercises, discussion, etc.). It could include a draft schedule of the workshop.

• Any specific recommendations for advanced reading, or reading assignments during the Gathering.

• Any specific requests for items to bring to the Gathering, such as artwork or manuscripts in progress.

• Any materials cost you expect participants to pay.

There's also a section of the proposal form where you can share your discernment process in proposing the workshop and a section for background information about you and any other co-leader. 

Will my workshop proposal be accepted?

Each year more proposals are received than can be accepted.  The workshop committee works hard to offer a valuable and viable Gathering. One of the considerations that goes into deciding which workshops are accepted is that the the number of workshops offered must fit with the number of attenders. Too many means that several won’t reach a viable size, and too few leads to overcrowding. Another consideration is that there needs to be a wide variety to offer something for everyone attending.

If four proposals come in on a similar topic, probably there won’t be room for all of them. A well-developed and clearly written plan is more likely to be accepted. From past experience, we know that there is often a need for more workshops proposals that explore movement, creative expression, and Quaker history. 

Workshop proposers are notified by the beginning of December if their workshop has been accepted or not. 

Should I submit academic credentials?

No, academic credentials are not necessary. We've had successful workshops leaders with a wide variety of educational backgrounds. We do require every workshop leader to have a letter of support from one or more Friends who are familiar with their ability to give an interactive workshop on their chosen topic. Ideally one of these Friends would have previously attended the Gathering.

Can I select participants to balance my group if my proposal is accepted?

No, workshop leaders cannot choose who gets into their workshop beyond setting the audience for who the workshop is aimed at. If there's a particular person you want to have in your workshop as an elder, we can hold a space for that person.

We give everyone who has registered during the Early Registration period (usually the first two weeks of April) an equal chance of being in their first choice workshop. Some workshops fill during this time, but many do not.  (More about workshop assignments during Early Registration.) When regular registration opens in late April, workshop assignment is first come, first served. You can of course invite Friends you would like to be in your workshop and encourage them to register during Early Registration. 

Are spaces other than classrooms and lounges possible?

What space is available for workshops varies at each campus. Sometimes workshops are in rooms other than classrooms and lounges. However, Gathering Staff does not know until a couple months before Gathering exactly what spaces on the campus we will be using.

As part of your workshop proposal, you can describe any special facilities that you might need. In the spring, workshop leaders will be asked to fill out a facilities request form that goes into greater detail in your needs for workshop space, including audiovisual needs.

Staff and volunteers do our best to match your needs with the available facilities. Space is limited and we will not be able to provide everything to everyone. Know that wherever your space is, it will likely be used by other groups at other times during the day.

Can I recommend reading for participants ahead of time?

Yes, you can recommend reading for your workshop participants. Your detailed workshop description should list any expectation of reading before or during the Gathering (outside of workshop times.) Any reading requirements are usually relatively brief, and you should be prepared that not everyone may have done advance reading.

You'll also have an opportunity to communicate directly to people who are registered for your workshop. In the spring, you can give text to Gathering staff and we can set up an email that automatically goes out to everyone registered for your workshop. In mid-May, you'll also get access to a list of your workshop participants, who you can contact directly. You can ask the Gathering bookstore to stock up to 3 titles related to your workshop - there is a form for this that all workshop leaders will get access to.

I want to edit a previous proposal. Why won't past proposals show up when I sign in?

  1. Did you submit the proposal before 2013? The new website attributed older proposals to Gathering staff. Contact us to change the listed author to you. Be sure to tell us the name and year of the workshop proposal.
  2. Did you submit the proposal by paper, or did you ask Gathering staff to finish submitting your online form? The staff person who clicked "submit" is probably listed as the author. Contact us to change the listed author to you. Be sure to tell us the name and year of the workshop proposal.
  3. Did you change your email address since your last proposal submission? Our system might not recognize you. Sign in with your old email address. You can change it once you sign in.

I have a new email address. How do I sign into my account?

Method 1: Sign in with your old email address, click the edit tab, and enter your new email address.

Method 2: email your old and new addresses to the Gathering Office and we will let you know when it has been changed.

Why do I need to create an account in order to submit a workshop proposal?

In previous years, we heard from workshop leaders that they wanted to be able to save a draft proposal and return to it later before they submitted it. We listened!

By creating an account we have a way to know it's you. That way we can be sure that only you can see and edit your draft proposal. It also allows, if your workshop is accepted, a streamlined way for you and the workshop committee to edit the text that will be in the Advance Program and on the public website. You can also access proposals submitted in previous years. Once you sign in, scroll down the page to view your past proposals.

More instructions for the online workshop proposal form