14 Top Conferences that Nonprofit Professionals Should Attend in 2021

14 Top Conferences that Nonprofit Professionals Should Attend in 2021

conference for nonprofit professionals

Conferences are an invaluable resource for any professional. They provide insights from industry leaders, forums for questions, access to developing technology and research, and long-lasting networking opportunities. For nonprofit professionals, the chance to learn from global contemporaries, compare experiences, and develop relationships with future partners should not be passed up, especially after this unprecedented year.

Everyone has had to learn new technology, brainstorm creative ways to restructure internal communication and external programs and find new paths for donations and support while audiences and communities are struggling. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended tried and true structures and tested organizations and individuals globally. But it is also an opportunity to reassess traditional ways of doing things and explore new ideas that could revolutionize your institution.

Since there are several conferences taking place each month, we’ve put together a list of the top 14 conferences that nonprofit professionals should attend in 2021. Given the ongoing global pandemic, most offer virtual options and a few are testing out safe in-person options.

Read on to find information, links, and pricing.


Nonprofit Conferences 2021


1. Organizing 2.0

Where: Virtual.

When: April 16-17, 2021.

What: Organizing 2.0 brings together leaders, organizers, fundraisers, techies, and activists to share collective wisdom, skills, and talents. This conference includes workshops, training, discussions, consulting, and networking opportunities. It also includes visionary speakers and a provocative debate around strategy and practices. Featured tracks focusing on online to offline organizing, digital strategy, member engagement, and more.

Audience Profile:
 Nonprofit professionals.

Price:
 $35 to $250.


2. Saleforce.org’s Nonprofit Summit

Where: Virtual.

When: April 21, 2021.

What: This is the inaugural year of Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Summit. The main stage of this conference will feature product demos to customer interviews, preparing you to unify data and personalize interactions. Trailblazers from leading nonprofits will share the latest in digital transformation, optimizing internal operations, and transformational constituent engagement. With curated sessions, breakout content, and interactive conversations, you will walk away ready to innovate, push past crises into recovery, and move the needle forward on vital issues.

Audience Profile:
Nonprofit professionals.

Price:
 Free.


3. 2021 Collective Impact Action Summit

Where: Virtual.

When: April 27-29, 2021.

What: Spanning three days and featuring over 25 online sessions including keynotes, tool sessions, case studies, and short talks, the 2021 Collective Impact Action Summit will share lessons learned from across the social change field, including the role of collective impact initiatives in advancing equitable systems change, centering anti-racist work, contributing to COVID-19 response and rebuilding, and other pressing challenges of our time.

Audience Profile:
 Nonprofit professionals.

Price:
 $175 to $475.


4. Cause Camp

Where: Virtual.

When: May 11, 2021, for Individual Stream. May 12-13, 2021 for Marketing Bootcamp.

What: Cause Camp is a nonprofit conference presented by Nonprofit Hub and DO MORE GOOD, two online educational resources dedicated to giving nonprofits everything they need to better their organizations and communities. Programming includes keynote speakers, the Inspire series, and workshops. Through Cause Camp, you’ll develop relationships, learn from the best in the sector, and be inspired.

Audience Profile: Nonprofit professionals.

Price: $39 for Individual Stream. $449 for Marketing Bootcamp.


5. Engage for Good

Where: Virtual.

When: May 25-27, 2021.

What: Engage for good is an annual conference for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Featuring pre-conference sessions, special interest discussion groups, speed networking, and engaging activities, this is a unique experience to learn from, and network with, both nonprofit peers and for-profit contemporaries. It also includes the Halo Awards: prestigious CSR, cause marketing, and corporate social impact awards focusing on initiatives in which brand purpose and social impact intersect.

Audience Profile:
Nonprofit professionals.

Price:
 $299 to $399.


6. Social Innovation Summit

Where: Virtual.

When: June 8-10, 2021.

What: The Social Innovation Summit is an annual event that represents a global convening of those hungry not just to talk about the next big thing, but to build it. Each session includes a different combination of speakers, formats, workshops, breakouts, networking opportunities, and VIP Sessions focused on a specific social impact theme: Responsible Leadership in Times of Crisis; COVID Relief; Economic Empowerment and the Future of Work; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging; Impact Investing, SDGs, and Philanthropy; Mental Health and Wellness; and Education, Youth, and Next Gen Learning.

Audience Profile:
 Nonprofit leaders and professionals.

Price:
 Free for General Reservation. $995 for VIP Registration.


7. The Collaborative: Virtual Sessions

Where: Virtual.

When: June 8-11, 2021.

What: The Collaborative: Virtual Sessions is an immersive experience presented by Classy and designed exclusively for the social sector to gain insights, strategies, and inspiration. From fundraising and marketing best practices to the latest in technology and data, you can discover the tools and connections you need to accelerate your organization’s impact.

Audience Profile:
Nonprofit professionals.

Price:
 Free.


8. AFP ICON 2021

Where: Virtual.

When: June 28-30, 2021.

What: This annual conference by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) includes over 100 educational sessions. Whether you want to master leadership, relationship building, securing the gift, trends and innovation, or all of the above, AFP has the latest and greatest information to unlock your fundraising potential. While it was originally intended to be a Hybrid event (in-person in Minneapolis and virtual), AFP ICON 2021 will be fully virtual due to ongoing safety concerns.

Audience Profile:
Nonprofit leaders and nonprofit fundraising professionals.

Price:
 $499 to $1999.


9. Fundraising Convention

Conferences for Nonprofit Professionals

Where: Virtual.

When: July 5-7, 2021.

What: The Fundraising Convention, presented by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, is an opportunity for you to hear and learn from expert speakers and build on your existing skills and knowledge to thrive in this new fundraising environment. It includes a program of live interactive sessions where you will hear from expert speakers, ask questions, and interact with your fellow attendees, and pre-recorded sessions from the sector’s brightest stars available at any time during and after the event.

Audience Profile:
 Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

Price:
 To be announced. Ticket prices in 2020 ranged from £300 to £350.


10. Bridge Conference

Where: Virtual.

When: July 14-15, 2021.

What: The Bridge Conference strives to create a unique, immersive, career-enhancing experience built on a robust, seasoned, virtual platform. This conference of, by, and for fundraising professionals will include the latest strategies, techniques, and innovations in direct response and major donor fundraising. It includes an educational program with two keynotes and 60 breakout sessions, partners that will help you endure challenges, and networking opportunities that will inspire you.

Audience Profile: Nonprofit professionals.

Price: $254 to $599.


11. AMA Nonprofit Marketing Virtual Conference

Where: Virtual.

When: August 10-12, 2021.

What: At the annual American Marketing Association (AMA) Nonprofit Marketing Virtual Conference, you’ll learn how to reach new audiences while staying authentic, market on a shoestring budget, and collaborate more efficiently across teams. You will gain insight and expertise from some of the top minds in the nonprofit community and hear about the latest best practices and tactics that can make the most effective use of your time and money.

Audience Profile:
Nonprofit marketing professionals.

Price:
To be announced. In 2020, registration was free.


12. ANA Nonprofit Federation Summer Conference

Where: Chicago, IL (individual tickets only) and virtual (corporate packages only).

When: August 25-27, 2021.

What: The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Summer Nonprofit Conference is a two-day event where you can exchange innovative marketing and fundraising ideas. Get inspired to think creatively and make the relationship with your donors even stronger. At this conference, you’ll hear case studies that will offer a realistic view of the issues, challenges, and successes that you face every day.

Audience Profile:
 Nonprofit fundraising and marketing professionals.

Price:
 $699 to $999.


13. NIO Summit and the Fundraising Factory

Where: Austin, TX.

When:  September 21-23, 2021.

What: The Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization (NIO) Summit is a conference for nonprofit marketers and fundraisers looking to grow their online fundraising. Over the course of two days, you’ll learn proven and research-driven strategies from leading experts, participate in hands-on training sessions and discover tools you need to grow your online fundraising and revenue. Through networking opportunities, you’ll gather new ideas and learnings from a community of nonprofit marketers and fundraisers.

Audience Profile: Nonprofit fundraising and marketing professionals.

Price:
 $1295 to $1595.


14. Nonprofit Storytelling Conference

Conferences that Nonprofit Professionals should attend

Where: San Diego, CA or virtual.

When: November 1-3, 2021.

What: At the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, nonprofit professionals will learn how to raise more money by telling better stories in fundraising, leadership, and communications. Topics include: major gifts, direct response mail, social media, donor relations, online giving, community outreach, planned giving, and more. Ticket access ranges from video recordings of the conference to in-person attendance.

Audience Profile:
 Nonprofit fundraising and marketing professionals.

Price:
 $595 to $895.


A conference not included above, but worth considering for 2022 is the Nonprofit Technology Conference. Having just taken place in late March, this conference covers a range of topics with a focus on technology.

Conferences for Nonprofit Professionals

Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Nonprofit Conference

Conferences can be overwhelming, with many people brought together for several full days of sessions and events. Virtual conferences bring their own stressors with the added barrier of meeting people through a computer screen, the temptation to multi-task with work or email, and the many distractions that come with working from home.

However, here are a few simple tricks to getting the most out of any conference, both in-person and virtual.

  • Review the full schedule of events for speakers, programs, and networking opportunities that most benefit or interest you. You don’t have to attend every event, so don’t overwhelm yourself with 1-3 full conference days.
  • Set aside time for the conference: let your team or supervisor know that you will be unavailable during sessions of interest and networking events, and disengage from work and email (bar emergency messages).
  • Do the research and take notes. Research the list of speakers beforehand, someone you haven’t heard of may have just the experience you need. Taking detailed notes will help you remember key takeaways and share them with your colleagues.
  • Make a virtual conference feel as close to an in-person conference as you can. Dress as you would if you were there, have your contact information or business cards handy. Be prepared to gather networking information. If possible, make a space in your home, office, or workspace that is free from distractions.
  • Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone or direct experience. If there is a topic that you’re interested in but doesn’t directly impact your position, attend it anyway. You never know what you might learn and who you might meet. Also, skills and information can be transferable across roles.
  • Introduce yourself at networking events. Virtual conferences and events are new to many of us, and meeting a new person can always be intimidating, but an open and friendly demeanor can go a long way. Don’t forget, everyone is at a networking event to meet people.

Conclusion

Virtual conferences don’t beat in-person ones, but there is still a lot to learn and many people to meet. Plus, with video recordings and written correspondence, it’s easier to review what you heard and keep track of new contacts. Take this moment as an opportunity to bond over shared difficulties and unexpected triumphs. We are all working through a difficult and frightening year and coming together to grow stronger from it will lead to better relationships and, hopefully, better nonprofits.

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