The Conversation Project® is a public engagement initiative with a goal that is both simple and transformative: to help everyone talk about their wishes for care through the end of life, so those wishes can be understood and respected.
Too many people die in a manner they would not choose, and too many of those that cared for them are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.
It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves.
We believe that the place for this to begin is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people who matter most to us, before it’s too late.
Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes, and those of the people who matter most to us (our loved ones, friends, chosen family), are both understood and respected. The Conversation Project offers tools, guidance, and resources to begin talking with those who matter most about your and their wishes.
The Conversation Project began 2010, when Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ellen Goodman and a group of colleagues and concerned media, clergy, and medical professionals gathered to share stories of “good deaths” and “hard deaths” within their own circle of loved ones.
Goodman founded the nonprofit after serving as caregiver to her mother with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. She and her mother had never discussed end-of-life care, but in the end the care decisions fell to Ellen. “I realized only after her death how much easier it would have all been if I heard her voice in my ear as these decisions had to be made,” she recalls.
Over several months, a vision emerged for a grassroots public campaign spanning both traditional and new media that would change our culture. The goal: to make it easier to initiate conversations about dying and to encourage people to talk now, and as often as necessary, so that their wishes are known when the time comes.
To make this vision a reality, The Conversation Project began its collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in September of 2011. IHI is a not-for-profit organization that helps lead improvement of health and health care throughout the world. Today, The Conversation Project is run by Ellen Goodman and IHI staff with support from many expert advisors.
The Conversation Project team wishes to acknowledge the generous assistance of the countless individuals who provided insight, advice, and encouragement as we prepared to launch our national campaign. Along the way, they shared resources, knowledge, and experience giving us leads, making connections, and focusing our work. Not surprisingly, they almost always shared their own personal stories, stories that underscore the importance of answering the question: “Have you had the conversation?” To each of you, our thanks.
By the Numbers
While 92% of Americans say it’s important to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32% have had such a conversation. 95% of Americans say they would be willing to talk about their wishes, and 53% even say they’d be relieved to discuss it (The Conversation Project National Survey, 2018).
More than 550,000 people, from all 50 states and 160+ countries, have downloaded our Conversation Starter Guide, which is available in English, Arabic, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
More than 1,500,000 people have visited The Conversation Project website since its 2012 launch.
For research related to TCP and end-of-life care conversations, please visit our health care resources page.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get involved?
Start by having conversations with those who matter most to you about your and their wishes for health care through the end of life; The Conversation Starter Guide is a free resource to help guide you through the process.
If you’d like to get more involved, we encourage you to first check out our Community Getting Started Guide. This is a great way to begin planning for how you can engage community residents in health care conversations through the end of life and how to partner with other organizations in your region to promote this work.
You can also join our webinars for community leaders, join our Conversation Champions Discussion Group, and connect with others doing similar work by checking out our Conversation Champions map. Sign up for our Community Engagement Newsletter and check out our Get Involved Page for more information. Additional resources are available on our Community Resources Page.
My organization (or I as an individual) would like to get involved with The Conversation Project. How can I get started?
First, please review TCP’s Principles for how we work with community partners.
Then, visit our Get Involved page, where you can sign-up for newsletters, get support from others, and download resources.
I’m interested in presenting about The Conversation Project. How do I get started?
We have a recorded, virtual speaker training that will prepare you to present on The Conversation Project and lead a Conversation Starter Guide workshop. Look under “Training” on our community calls/connections page for more information. Additionally, our Community Resource Center has a standard slide deck and suggested activities you can use for your presentation.
How do I sign up for the monthly Conversation Project community webinar?
How do I get copies of your materials?
All of our materials, including the Conversation Starter Guide, are available to download and print for free. Professionally printed copies are also available for purchase through our online, Mimeo Marketplace.
How can I support The Conversation Project?
The Conversation Project depends on foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, and individual contributions to fund its work. If you would like to support our campaign, please consider a tax-deductible gift to honor a loved one’s memory. Donations can be made online.
You can also help us promote our work and the vital importance of care conversations through the end of life by posting on The Conversation Project Facebook page, tweeting @convoproject or sharing on Instagram.
May our organization post a link to your website?
Absolutely. Feel free to provide a link to our homepage (http://theconversationproject.org/) or directly to our Get Started page (http://theconversationproject.org/starter-kits/). We do not, however, allow PDFs of our Conversation Starter Guides to be posted on external websites.
If you would like to receive a custom URL, so that we can track the number of people clicking on the link and provide this information to you, please email email@example.com.
Please refer to our branding guidelines for more information.
How can I request to have someone from The Conversation Project speak at my event?
Please complete the Speaker Request form to tell us more about the event you are planning. If possible, we’ll then make a recommendation on the best speaker for your event. Please note that because we are a small team, we can only accommodate a limited number of speaking engagements.
How can I request an interview for my article, radio program, etc.?
Please send all media inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the relationship between The Conversation Project and National Healthcare Decisions Day?
NHDD is an initiative of The Conversation Project. NHDD’s founder, Nathan Kottkamp, continues to be involved, while we are responsible for the management, finances, and structure of NHDD.
What if I have additional questions?
Please email us at conversationproject@IHI.org.
We want to hear from you! E-mail or send us snail mail using the information below.
Press inquiries: Please email us, and we will return your message within one business day. If you need a quicker response, please call Steph Coulombre at (617) 301-4864.