10 Best Nonprofit Conferences to Attend in 2020

David Schuman • Jan 30, 2020
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Stuffy, boring, and drawn out conferences are a thing of the past. It turns out people learn more when presented with relevant content in a fun and engaging atmosphere. Who would have thought?

For starters, these 10 Nonprofit Conferences. 

It was no easy feat narrowing down the top 10 from a list of 100, but we are confident that each of these events will provide a HUGE return on investment.

Each conference is unique, but all offer professional development through a series of lectures from industry thought leaders, hands on support with field experts, and countless networking opportunities – all wrapped up in wildly energetic settings. 

Who knew nonprofit professionals could be so passionate? – Just kidding, everybody and their neighbor knows just how amped we get about our causes.

Bring actionable insights, up to date technical skills, and a host of new friends and contacts back to your nonprofit organization to help propel your mission to new heights. 

Unlock our list of 100 Nonprofit Conferences 

 You can set a temporary filter and deep dive into which event for nonprofit professionals would benefit you most. Sort by date, location, price point $, and even by CFRE Education point qualification! 

Bring actionable insights, up to date technical skills, and a host of new friends and contacts back to your nonprofit organization to help propel your mission to new heights. 

Nonprofit Conference Going Tips and Tricks

1. Be an Early Bird 

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than finding the perfect conference for you or your organization to attend, only to find ticket prices are a bit out of range. 

Early Bird ticket prices can help make the attendance proposal to a manager an easier ask. We have done our best to list early bird prices and deadlines for our suggested list.

2. Research the Programming 

What goals are your nonprofit organization trying to achieve this year? Would you be better off with a marketing conference or a fundraising conference? Tech or storytelling? Heck, maybe a bit of everything!  Knowing what topics each conference will cover, as well as who will be speaking, can inform the relevance of the event and its long-term return on investment for you.

3. Make Friendly 

Learning aside, nonprofit conferences are all about connecting. Folks who can empathize, grow, educate, and inspire you will all be in attendance – and you want to form lasting relationships with all of them.

Having business cards is a good first step as you may already have some printed. Personally, I recommend reaching out with a handshake, a smile, and an instant LinkedIn connection. Do this while you’re still talking or right after you say your goodbyes!

Keep a template saved in your phone’s notes that you can customize and copy into a connection greeting!

It can go something like this:

Hi {first name},
It was great to meet you today at {conference}. I really enjoyed learning/talking about {subject}, and would love to stay in contact!
Best,
{your name}

This approach offers the double whammy of an increased likelihood of connection, as well as reminding both of you where and how your relationship started! I’ve got a serious case of networking heebie jeebies and constantly fall back on this template. 

Learn how to leverage LinkedIn for your nonprofit

4. Business Casual 

You’re in for a long few days. Dress to impress but comfy shoes are always advised.

5. Bag Essentials

  • Registration info and schedule – make sure you know where to be and when!
  • Pen and Paper or Tablet for note-taking.
  • Water Bottle – reduce, reuse, recycle.
  • Headphones – unwind or amp yourself up with your favorite music.
  • Battery pack – many events offer charging stations for personal devices but lines can get long. Stay powered to stay connected.
  • Empty pockets for snacks – need I say more?

And finally – our list of the 10 Best Nonprofit Conferences to Attend in 2020. 

The 10 Best Nonprofit Conferences 

1. The Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)

Baltimore, Maryland, USA | March 24-26, 2020 | USD $749 – $1049

More than 2,000 nonprofit professionals will flock to NTEN’s annual conference to “connect, learn, and find new ways to spark change with technology.” This year NTC is host to nearly 200 breakout sessions in five main focus areas: Program, IT, Leadership, Fundraising, and Marketing & Communications. 

For those who have more difficulty networking (yours truly) – the Birds of a Feather is a standout feature which allows attendees to gather at lunchtimes and join tables dedicated to common interests or identities. 

NTC takes the number one spot this year for three reasons: 

  • Our very own CEO and Founder, Nejeed Kassam, is speaking about Artificial Intelligence Tools for Nonprofits – and we couldn’t be more proud of him!
  • With so many different session types covering a wide range of topics – there is something for everyone in the nonprofit sector to bring back to their organization and make an impact.
  • NTC walks the walk when it comes to social justice and fostering an environment of inclusivity with a dedicated lactation room, 12-step community meetings every morning, and Racial Affinity – a space dedicated for attendees of color to gather and connect.  

2. Cause Camp 

Lincoln, Nebraska, USA | April 20-21, 2020 | USD $99 – $1500

Up your nonprofit game with Cause Camp. This conference has made the Forbes ‘must-attend’ list in previous years, and for good reason.

Drawing on a veritable well of experts – Cause Camp provides the cream of the nonprofit crop. Eight industry experts, thought leaders, and C-level speakers will bring the spark you need to create the change you want to see. 

With a single track focus, attendees won’t have to miss one single second of brilliance as you cover topics of diversity, stewardship, donor experience, and self-care.

Cause Camp similarly eschews traditional breakout sessions for an opportunity to chat with industry experts in the ‘Meet the Experts Room’. Get all your personal questions answered, and still have time to relax with meditation and yoga, attend workshops, and mingle with fellow do-gooders.

If you are unable to attend Cause Camp 2020, they provide an affordable streaming option so you can be there in virtual spirit.

3. Nonprofit Storytelling Conference 

Chicago, Illinois, USA | October 29-31, 2020 | USD Early Bird $695 – Regular $1095

Everyone has a story to share. How you tell that story can have a monumental impact on the success of your mission. At the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, the focus is on learning how to shape the stories you have into powerful tools for fundraising, leadership, and communication.

Every year this conference draws an inspired crowd of nonprofit professionals from every nook and cranny of the sector – each ready to engage and connect in a familial atmosphere. 

While this year’s schedule is not yet set, 2019 featured heaps of sessions for attendees to comb through to pick and choose from, as well as one-on-one sessions with experts to give you personalized support.

A learned storytelling technique that can be used when engaging a donor for an ask, is to leave a story partially incomplete. Give them the beginning and middle, but allow them to decide the end with their own actions. This folds the donor’s personal story arc into the greater narrative of your organization or impact area. 

If you want to learn even more storytelling techniques to drive change, the Nonprofit StoryTelling Conference is for you. 

Check out this Impact Story Toolkit

4. AFP ICON 

Baltimore, Maryland, USA | March 29-31, 2020 | USD Early Bird until Jan. 31 $599 – $1649 • Regular $499 – $1899

AFP Icon is an annual fundraising conference hosted by The Association of Fundraising Professionals, and mainstay among the nonprofit conference sector. AFP ICON boasts the largest number of attendees (~3500+!) to participate in over 100 sessions.

Tracks this year include Ethics and Accountability, Relationship building, Securing the Bag, and more! Eye-catching session titles include Brand Building Lessons from Standup Comedians, the Neuroscience of Legacy Giving, and Ultimate Recipes for Corporate Partnerships.

Standout keynote speakers include Zainab Salbi, a humanitarian, bestselling author, and TV hosts – as well as José Andrés, an internationally recognized culinary innovator.

Get two conferences for the flight of one and attend Nejeed Kassam’s talk on Artificial Intelligence Tools for Nonprofits at the Nonprofit Technology Conference just a few days before!

5. Nonprofit Learning Lab

West to East Coast, USA | February – November, 2020 | USD $50 – $100

The Nonprofit Learning Lab is a continuing series of 14 single-day deep dives offering practical strategies for experienced nonprofit professionals. 

Labs are offered across the country and throughout the year making them an exceptional resource for Executive and Development Directors, Program and Marketing Managers, and seasoned Board Members to drop in on without the need for extensive, or expensive, travel.

This hyper-localized approach also means attendees will connect with other nonprofit professionals with potentially overlapping communities, fostering a greater sense of connectivity.

While each lab features different sessions and expert trainers endemic to the host city, they all focus around developing skills in fundraising, social media, board development, and nonprofit marketing.

6. Tech Forward 

Denver, Colorado, USA | September 15 – 15, 2020 | USD TBD

The nonprofit sector is ripe for technological advancement, and the Tech Forward conference hosted by TechImpact aims to aid in that transformation. With a focus on relieving the technological pain points held by many in the sector, Tech Forward offers case studies, actionable steps, and C-level speakers to an intimate crowd of 200 attendees. 

No vendors or exhibitors keep distractions to a minimum so you can focus on how to make your nonprofit Productive, Secure, Informed, and Innovative – as well as make connections and fast friends at the lively networking parties.

This conference is perfect for those who are maybe apprehensive about getting hands on with tech but recognize its potential for impact, as well as those who are technically savvy and want to grow their skills and deepen their list of resources.

Register for our webinar: How to Create a Culture of Innovation in Your Nonprofit

7. Western Canada Fundraising Conference – WCFC 

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | March 13-15, 2020 | CAD Early Bird $599 • Regular $699

Though relatively new to the conference scene, WCFC has been making headlines as a ‘must attend’ event for fundraising professionals. 2020 marks their fifth year delivering two full days of speaker sessions and a final half day of intensive workshops to get your synapses firing and ideas flowing to bring back to your own organization – all for a truly unbeatable price.

Really get to know the ~150 industry leaders gathering from all over Canada, the United States, and Europe amidst beautiful British Columbia’s wine country. 

Sessions from previous years covered Donor Communications, Lessons Learned from Stewardship, and a deep dive workshop to capitalize on Digital Fundraising Frontiers. WCFC is no doubt a worthwhile event for every level of fundraiser.

As an extra special perk – WCFC is an approved provider for continuing education by the CFRE and as such, attendees qualify to earn CFRE 1.B – Education points towards their certifications.

8. Digital Leap 

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | April 28, 2020 | CAD Early Bird until February 2 $226 – $257

With digital trends, algorithms, and channels changing at the speed of light – it can be pretty tough to stay on top of it all, let alone ahead of the game. Digital Leap appraises you of current technological and digital landscapes as they pertain to professional fundraising and the nonprofit industry.

In just one day, attendees will take away tangible skills and valuable insights to push your fundraising strategy to the next level.

Session and speaker information is coming soon, but rest assured Digital Leap only offers top notch content to fuel your missions. Digital Leap attendance also qualifies for CFRE 1.B – Education points!

9. NIO Summit – Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization 

Austin, Texas, USA | Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2020 | USD Super Early Bird until March 31 $745 – $1045 • Regular $1295 – $1595

Enter the fundraising factory at the 2020 Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization conference inspired this year by Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka. 

Nonprofit marketers and fundraisers will hear from the industry’s best and brightest digital marketing experts and thought leaders to give you the golden ticket to optimizing your own online fundraising. 

These hand-selected folks will fill your head with Pure Imagination on where you can take your fundraising, backed by proven and research-driven strategies to get you there.

Choose from two full-day intensive workshops covering ‘Year End Fundraising’ or ‘Donor Acquisition Using Facebook’ before delighting in the summit’s Kick Off Party. The summit schedule and full list of speakers is still being finalized. 

To wet your appetite, NIO has also posted 32 video recordings of sessions from 2019, a truly remarkable resource.

If years past are any indication – NIO 2020 has more than a few treats in store.

10. FIA Conference 

Brisbane, Australia | February 26-28, 2020 | AUD $750 – $2810

For our friends Down Under, the annual Fundraising Institute Australia conference wants to recognize the crucial role you play in turning inspired ideas into a world changing reality. 

Brisbane will play host to over 100 speakers including Esther Kwaku and Ken Burnett to share their learnings, inspirations, and achievements with more than 1000 attendees to help shape future fundraising initiatives.

Join in conference track sessions that covers Creativity & Innovation, Trust & Accountability, Personal Effectiveness, and more. Masterclassess are your opportunity to dive into one of the offered topics that range from the Use and Misuse of Emotion, Finding the Magic in Your Storytelling, and Data for Fundraising. 

Knowing full well the importance of connectivity, FIA offers five different social events for you to engage in. For the conference newbies, Speed Networking offers a fast paced meet and greet to overcome first time nerves and grow your network quickly. 

For the up and comers, attendees aged 35 and under are invited to the Emerging Leaders Networking event to meet like minded peers and deepen relationships with fellows across the country. A full on Gala awards dinner closes out the FIA so dress to impress (ticket not included in admission price).

Want to be Featured? Is your conference not on our master list? Want it to be? Send us an email with a link to your event and we would be happy to add it! Happy Learning!

100 Great Nonprofit Conferences to Attend in 2020

 You can set a temporary filter and deep dive into which event for nonprofit professionals would benefit you most. Sort by date, location, price point $, and even by CFRE Education point qualification! 

100 Great Nonprofit Conferences 
for 2020 

Get access to the full list!