5 Reasons Why Nonprofits Leaders Around the World Should Attend the 2019 Points of Light Conference

By Kostapanos Miliaresis, General Director, Ethelon

Mar 13, 2019

Kostapanos Miliaresis (center) of Ethelon participates in a panel discussion on global changemaking at the 2017 Points of Light Conference in Seattle, with Daniel Morais (left) of Atados and Sue Toomey of HandsOn Hong Kong.


As the general director of Ethelon in Greece, one of the biggest benefits of my role is connecting with people from all over the world who are trying to make this world a better place. The highlight of this is having the chance to meet those people in person, and there is no better place to do that than the annual Points of Light Conference. Here’s why:

1. In Times of Test, Family is Best

I will never forget the first moments at the 2017 Points of Light Conference in Seattle when, even before the opening of the conference, people from all over the world were hugging one another like they were relatives coming together for Christmas. That was the first time I understood that the global Points of Light Network is something more than the emails, the internal group and the common projects. It is your international family, a place where you feel welcomed, beloved and safe to get out of your comfort zone.

At the 2017 Points of Light Conference in Seattle, Kostapanos (center) visits Pike Place Market with Maria Feliza Cojuangco (left) of Hands On Manila, Neha Shrivastava of iVolunteer, Sue Toomey of HandsOn Hong Kong, Ana Cristina Perez of Voluntarios de Panama, and Dondon Marquez (right) of Hands On Manila.

2. The Conference Outside the Conference

We are all well aware that at these types of events… content is the king! The difference is that the Points of Light team makes sure each participant makes the most out of it, even outside the core agenda. Parallel events, private venues, activities, and a cultural tour around the city are only a few of my top memories from the 2018 conference in Atlanta.

3. All-Star Team

Imagine if you could select individuals from different organizations, each with their unique added value, and combine them all together. In the NBA, they call it the All-Star Game; in civil society, we call it the Points of Light Conference.

For three days, you have the chance to listen to amazing case studies from all over the world, from organizations that are leading their sector. The best thing? It’s up to you to select who you want to hear from and what you want to learn, thanks to the flexible DIY conference agenda.

4. What If… Why Not Me?

During the sessions or the breaks, and especially while you are traveling back home, you get this feeling. “What if I could also do that?” “Could it be me and my organization presenting next year?”

The motivation and out-of-the-box new ideas that you take back with you give you what you need to feel ready to create change in your community, knowing that other folks around the world have already made it!

5. The Power of Connections

The Points of Light Conference lasts less than a week, but its impact lasts forever. The real magic starts through all the new collaborations that are being created with the amazing people you met at the conference. It’s there that you understand that if you connect your powers, nothing can stop you!

I could write so much more, but the truth is — it cannot be fully understood, until you experience it. Greetings from Greece, and hope to see you all in St. Paul!


Kostapanos is the general director of Ethelon, a Points of Light Network affiliate located in Marousi, Greece. The 2019 Points of Light Conference will be his third.