A place for expanded conversation on topics of interest to Friendship Force International clubs and members

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bigger and Better: World Conferences Go Every Other Year

One of the decisions that came out of the International Board of Directors meeting this past March was the unanimous approval for the World Conference to take place every other year. After the 2017 World Conference in Manchester, England, the next will be held in 2019. This change has been discussed for many years and is already being welcomed as a long-overdue adjustment by several clubs as they look for ways to improve the quality and attendance at their regional conferences.

Background: It has always been a struggle to fill our World Conferences to capacity. Full conferences such as those in Washington, D.C. in 2010, New Orleans in 2013, and Vancouver in 2015 are the exception. Most years we have as many as 100 spaces left available to sell, which amounts to lost revenue for FFI, not just in terms of conference fees, but also the cost involved with planning the conference. These empty seats also mean lost opportunities to share with, educate, and learn from our attendees.

Does having the World Conference every year spread us (and our attendees) too thin financially and dilute the conference’s appeal? At FFI we’ve been asking this question for a few years now, and we’ve toyed with the idea of having it in alternate years. Now, as we approach our 40th anniversary year, the time seems right for this change.

Having the FFI World Conference every other year should allow us to:

  1. build anticipation with a longer break between conferences
  2. provide more calendar room for members to participate in regional conferences and events
  3. plan a bigger and different kind of conference with more to offer
  4. attract more attendees
  5. reduce planning costs
  6. have time to implement changes based on feedback from the previous conference
  7. organize a smaller, different event in non-conference years
The importance of the events planned for 2018 and in subsequent “non-conference” years cannot be understated. These respites from World Conference preparation gives all of Friendship Force an opportunity to plan a slightly smaller, alternative event, such as a friendship festival or development project that aims to enhance our mission and progress in some way.

As we institute this change, we want to hear from you! What would you like to see at future World Conferences? What events might you like to see in the non-conference years?

Feel free to submit your comment below!


  1. I would like to see regional events perhaps 5max in the USA, but wherever we have a concentration of clubs, perhaps around World Friendship Day. Make it open to the community with community presenters from different ethnic backgrounds. Goodness knows most of us could benefit from understanding more about these folks who live among us. Perhaps one day would be devoted to FFI training an information sharing with members but the other activities would broaden our mission with knowledge, ethnic foods and who knows, might introduce new members to our organization.

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