When it comes to nonprofit fundraising and marketing conferences on the 2020 calendar, there is no shortage of options. We’ve been to many over the years and can definitely say that we’ve found our favorites. From nonprofit leadership to technology, there are conferences for every cause and every role within your organization. If you don’t already have a few of these conferences on your calendar, you’re missing out on some key industry education and networking events.
Here is our carefully crafted list of the best nonprofit conferences in 2020:
VIRTUAL: AAWA Spring Conference
June 16-17, 2020
We won’t get too specific at this conference; it’s a one size fits all ordeal. The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA) Conference focuses on high-level executive training on a broad range of topics, so definitely a good learning experience for your organization’s upper management. Not only that, attendees will get lots of opportunities to connect with other executive level people from various animal welfare organizations. This event has professional development written all over it.
AAWA Spring Conference 2020 Coronavirus Update: AAWA is moving its conference online and rebranding the theme as “Resilience.” The description says the virtual event “is designed to help attendees closely examine ways to build resilience, both for themselves and the organizations they represent.”
CANCELED: Bridge Conference
National Harbor, Maryland
July 15-17, 2020
Ah, finally, the meeting of the minds. The Bridge Conference will be one of the most popular nonprofit conferences in 2020, and we would be crazy not to include it on this list. It’s a premier event for nonprofit professionals looking to reach across the table and collaborate with people who think differently. This year’s theme centers around how the left and right-brained bring art and science together for strategic fundraising has everyone at RKD Group dying to go.
The sessions here are geared more towards vision, with insights from multichannel, technology or strategy trends. Another great part about this conference is that it breeds a networking culture that encourages you to meet with people outside of our nonprofit circle. So, if you’re shy, be prepared to step outside of your shell and pick the brains of innovative nonprofit professionals.
Bridge Conference 2020 Coronavirus Update: In an email to attendees on April 28, the conference’s co-chairs wrote that “Unfortunately, in light of the current health crisis and the legal restrictions in place, we’ve come to the decision that an in-person Bridge Conference will not be possible this year.” However, they did leave the door open for alternatives: “We, along with the boards of conference hosts— AFP/DC and DMAW – are exploring other possibilities.”
VIRTUAL: Feeding America Unite Conference
Through a combination of small-group learning sessions and attendee dialogue and networking, the Feeding America Unite Conference establishes a foundation for continuous, year-round learning and growth for food bank staff and fundraisers alike. Surround yourself with marketers and fundraisers who are dedicated to the same mission: ending world hunger.
Feeding America Unite Conference 2020 Coronavirus Update: In an email to attendees on April 6, the Feeding America Network Learning and Engagement Team announced a shift to a virtual event on the same conference dates: “This change will enable food bank and FANO staff members who play leadership roles in these conferences to redirect their time COVID-19 activities.”
There isn’t a specific website for this conference, but you can stay in the know on the Feeding America’s website, here.
2020 ANA Chicago Nonprofit Conference
August 5-7, 2020
This is the conference for straight-up direct response marketing education. It’s truly a gem because the sessions meet you where you are. Refreshing, right? It’s easy to find a session that fits your growth needs as an organization, and the leaders will give insights based on established direct mail, digital and telemarketing fundraising techniques. RKD Group always has a group in attendance, many times sharing some breakthrough direct response strategy goodness.
You don’t leave this type of event without making a few new friends. The environment breeds peer learning, allowing you to build a sense of comradery with other attendees. You are constantly bouncing ideas off one another, networking and benchmarking yourself against other organizations. We think it’s much more productive when organizations learn with each other and build long-term, personal and productive relationships. If you agree, sign up for this one!
The Citygate Network Revive! Conference
September 2-5, 2020
The Citygate Network was forced to cancel its spring conference, but they’ve adapted their fall CEO Summit to hold a unique event called Revive! The conference will be a smaller version of Fortify, with limited space for guests and booths, as well as some (but not all) of the education topics planned for the May conference.
Details are limited for now, but stay tuned for more information.
Blackbaud Conference (bbcon)
October 6-8, 2020
This is another top-of-the-line fundraising technology conference. NTEN’s yearly conference is our favorite tech event, but if you’re a Blackbaud user, you probably need to budget for bbcon. We have a number of clients that use Blackbaud, and therefore we’re users, too. The user group meetups are something we always prioritize in our schedule. It’s a great place to hear from other users, share success stories and frustrations. This is a big conference with a big exhibit hall to match. Bring your comfortable walking shoes and explore all of the events, sessions, and exhibitors. You will definitely pick up a few new ideas, strategies, and tchotchkes.
AAWA Fall Conference
New Orleans, Louisiana
November 15-17, 2020
The AWA Fall Conference in November has a focus on high-level executive and leadership training. If you’re looking to tackle industry issues from a 20,000-foot view and want to network with other industry professionals, this is the conference for you.
2021 ANA DC Nonprofit Conference
February 16-18, 2021
We’re all about educational stuff but that might not be the only thing you’re looking for in a conference. Sometimes the best way we learn is through making connections, and that’s exactly what you’ll get here. At the ANA DC Nonprofit Conference, the biggest highlight is the networking. You’ll still learn plenty about digital and direct mail marketing trends but you’ll get to learn and talk with other individuals and organizations on a far more personal level.
DC Nonprofit offers plenty of opportunity inside and outside of the classroom to connect with other attendees from activities like sessions and group dining to power breaks and morning yoga. You won’t be able to go away without a new friend, new insight and having fun.