March 12, 2020
ECCF Turns to Virtual Conferencing for the IFT

Danvers, MA – Responding to rising health concerns, Essex County Community Foundation has announced plans to make its 11th annual Institute for Trustees, the region’s largest all-day nonprofit leadership conference, a virtual event.

Kick-off will take place virtually on Saturday, March 14 at 9 am and workshop sessions will be delivered to registered attendees via video conferencing between March 23 and April 18. A separate Keynote and Networking Night will take place this summer.

“We had to be innovative to make sure all of the most valuable IFT elements are still represented,” said Carol Lavoie Schuster, ECCF’s vice president for grants and services. “But if our work over the last two years has taught us anything, it’s to be resilient in challenging times.”

Registered IFT attendees are receiving more information about the altered event via email, but many details can also be found at

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make, especially given the powerful networking that happens at the IFT,” said ECCF President & CEO Beth Francis. “But in the wake of the threat from the Coronavirus, the Foundation, like many other local organizations, is acting out of an abundance of caution for our attendees, presenters and staff. Making sure people are safe and healthy is our number one priority.”

Protecting the stability of our region’s nonprofit organizations is another.

“So many of our community members depend on the services that Essex County’s nonprofits provide, and part of ECCF’s core mission is to support the region’s nonprofit organizations,” added Francis. “As much as we can, we need to make sure that, in challenging times, the threat of nonprofit service interruptions is mitigated by safeguarding the leaders who run them.”

At the same time, ECCF wants to ensure that the IFT, an event that more than 300 nonprofit leaders have attended every year for the past decade, goes on. One benefit to a virtual IFT, Francis pointed out, is that attendees will not have to pick and choose just a few workshops to attend. And there are many. Topics include fundraising, strategic planning, community engagement, governance, diversity and so much more. Attendees can participate live in as many conferences as they are able via ZOOM, but recordings of all 21 workshops will be recorded and sent to each and every conference registrant.

“This added value is the silver lining to this alternative plan,” said Francis. “As a community foundation, we have to be nimble in times of crisis, and I am fortunate to work with staff and colleagues who are willing and able to act quickly.”

The other benefit of a virtual IFT is that registration for the event has been extended through March 13 at 5pm. You can sign up by visiting


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  1. 175 Andover Street, Suite 101
    Danvers, Massachusetts 01923