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The Briefing 2012

Last Wednesday, I attended The Briefing conference organized by the UBC Dollarproject club. In short, five charitable organizations present their causes at the conference then at the end, each audience member votes on one charity he or she wants the $500 prize money to go to. This is Dollarproject’s biggest event of the year and reflects the club’s philosophy of collective action because while one vote alone may not have any effect, many votes together will have a large impact.

Although the conference was supposed to start at 6pm, the opening address wasn’t given until 6:30 (my biggest pet peeve is waiting). This was followed by a dance performance from the A.R. Macneill senior dance team. Then each charity gave a brief speech accompanied by a Q and A session. There was a short dinner break before everyone went to their breakout sessions and finally returning for the closing remarks that ended at 9pm.

I thought the dance performance and live music were good touches because I would have been bored listening to speakers talk through a three-hour conference. This was a problem last year so I’m glad Dollarproject fixed it. The biggest improvement were the introduction of breakout sessions. Each of the five representatives held their own discussion group separately so we got to learn more about their charities before casting a vote. I attended the session led by Penny Lyons from Seva Canada and had an insightful discussion regarding development and relief charities.

The hallway where we ate was narrow and very cramped. I would have liked to eat where there were chairs and tables although I assume food and drinks weren’t allowed in the lecture hall. Since the conference started late, we attended only one breakout session when there were two scheduled. Marketing has to be more aggressive and I suggest targeting faculty/administrative members and inviting youtube celebrities. I also think the conference would be more attractive if it was shortened to two hours. Each of the five speakers have seven minutes and two 20 minute breakout sessions which takes up only 75 minutes, still plenty of time to have opening/closing remarks and a dinner break.

The winning charity was Seva Canada and they were most deserving. Most speakers only presented what they did as opposed to answering why their work matters so I found it hard to believe in their causes. Also I felt that some didn’t really address the fundamental problems underlying their causes (will blog about this later). Oh I’d like to add that the MCs did a great job making the conference as lively as possible.

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Categories: Global, UBC
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