The Café-Projets formula tackles these aspects head-on, and is not shy about raising the bar on commitment from participants. As such, it is effectively a pop-up school to learn the Art of the Ask. Here’s how it unfolds, from the organizer’s point of view, in bullet-point form:
Prior to the event
Select four or five project “flamekeepers” (my term).
Have them fill out project descriptions (Project name, mission, development stage, envisioned impact, needs, expectations)
Send invitations out.
Accept participants (called “collaborators”, in a clever expectations-setting move) up to a given size limit.
Secure food and hot beverages for collaborators.
During the Event
Collaborators come in, chat and network.
Organizers make introductory remarks, explain how the event will go.
Each flamekeeper gives a two-minute pitch explaining their project and needs.
Collaborators self-select into clusters around each flamekeeper.
Collaborators and flamekeepers discuss (freeform) for 30 minutes.
Halftime break. (A presentation was given, but this felt optional)
Every collaborator moves to a different flamekeeper for another 30 minutes of discussion.
The whole group reconvenes. Every flamekeeper explains what they have learned, how their project has moved forward, and what their next steps are.
People network some more.