Each year, I set one professional development goal for myself. The goal can be as simple as learning basic HTML tags or InDesign shortcuts or reading reference books that help me polish up on skills that have gotten rusty over the years. But no matter the goal, I try to attend at least one conference to network and rub elbows with leaders in the nonprofit sector and/or communications industry. Conferences are a fantastic learning tool that allow you to observe practical and proven examples of innovative programs, new initiatives and smart processes.
Below, I am sharing my wish list of conferences to attend in 2018. Because I live in the nation’s capital, I organized my list by those that are being held in D.C. this year and then by those that will require a little more travel. Whether you’re in the DMV region or you live across the country, I encourage you to consider what is being offered here. D.C. is spectacular in the spring and a dream (albeit scorching hot) in the summer. There’s always something going on. You can come for a conference and stay for the other attractions like free museums, national monuments, festivals and more.
***Pro Tip: Can’t make it to the physical conference? Register for the virtual experience. You will save money and get the same content attendees received in person. Don’t have the budget for the virtual registration? Follow the event hashtag and experience the conference via social media! There are so many ways to get your learn on!
2018’s Must-Attend Conferences for Nonprofit/Communications Professionals
2018 Washington Nonprofit Conference (Washington, D.C.)
February 21 – 23
Join us and hundreds of fundraising and marketing professionals at the Washington Nonprofit Conference, a two-day event where you will exchange innovative marketing and fundraising ideas, generate insightful solutions and think creatively to help you make the relationship with your donors even stronger.
Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership (Washington, D.C.)
April 12 – 13
This conference concentrates on emerging philanthropic markets (i.e., ethnic, LGBT, young alumni) in advancement, while exploring minority wealth, philanthropic behaviors and diverse engagement strategies. The program also features sessions on enhancing management and leadership skills for advancement professionals of diverse backgrounds. Presented in collaboration with African American Development Officers Network (AADO).
The 2018 Nonprofit Talent and Cultural Summit (Washington, D.C.)
April 18 – 20
High-impact social sector thought leaders will inspire you to drive meaningful talent and culture change at work. More than 25 breakout and impact sessions give you the opportunity to learn about key issues in your profession, including using social brand to attract top talent, advancing your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and more.
Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference (Washington, D.C.)
May 22 – 23
The Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference (MMCC) gives association and nonprofit professionals the insights necessary to take their marcomm and membership strategies to new heights. Learn the latest in engagement, technology, and trends from industry innovators.
Annual Conference for Donor Relations Professionals (Washington, D.C.)
June 25 – 27
This conference is designed for newcomers to the advancement profession and professionals with mid- and senior-level responsibility, and is held in conjunction with Donor Relations 101, a workshop for newcomers to the advancement profession, and Senior Leaders in Donor Relations.
AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference (Washington, D.C.)
July 16 – 18
At the AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference, we’ll teach you how to reach a bigger audience on a smaller budget, and transform your marketing dollars into maximum impact. Help your organization become greater than you thought possible. Gain insight and expertise from some of the top minds in the nonprofit community. Learn the latest best practices and technologies that can make the most effective use of your time and money. This is the community that shares your passion.
2018 Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference (National Harbor, Maryland)
July 31 – August 2
Bridge is the premier conference of, by and for fundraising professionals. It’s a vast, immersive uniquely comprehensive experience for the latest strategies, techniques and innovations in direct response marketing and fundraising.
The D.C. Marketing Summit (Washington, D.C.)
The DC Marketing Summit hosts marketing leaders from major brands, corporates, cultural institutions, public agencies and nonprofits. Approximately 450 attendees will be there – 70% brands, 30% agencies & vendors
Conferences outside of D.C.
Nonprofit Hub: Cause Camp (Lincoln, NE)
March 26 – 27th
Cause Camp is dedicated to showing nonprofits how to be more remarkable in the areas of marketing, fundraising, leadership, innovation and more. Organizations that attend Cause Camp leave equipped and ready to #CauseTheChange
Create Good Conference (Durham, NC)
May 3 – 4
Create Good 2018 is an opportunity to gather the best and brightest nonprofit communications professionals to share our wins, reflect on our losses, and refresh our toolboxes with practical learning to fuel our passion. By attending this conference you’ll glean the insights, strategies and tactics that created successful campaigns and movements, straight from your fellow nonprofit communications professionals. You’ll be inspired to fight harder for your mission. You’ll get the tools to “get to work” when you’re back at your desk.
ADRP International Conference (St. Louis, MO) **my favorite conference**
October 3 – 5
This conference welcomes donor relations and stewardship professionals from around the world to learn, network, and share with each other their extensive knowledge and expertise within the donor relations industry.
ComNet18 (San Francisco, California)
October 10 – 12
The Communications Network Annual Conference is the premier global leadership gathering for foundation and nonprofit leaders committed to building a better world through the smart and deliberate use of strategic communications.
Nonprofit Storytelling Conference (Orlando, FL) **#1 on my wish list**
October 15 – 17
This conference is for anyone who communicates with donors, and needs to raise money. We have people attending from small organizations to large organizations…from Healthcare to Education. From Social Services to Environmental Organizations. From Religious organizations to Foodbanks and all types of organizations in between. If you want to learn to connect with donors better and tell powerful stories, than this conference is for you.
Keep your eye out for more info on the following:
The YNPN National Conference & Leaders Institute connects young nonprofit leaders from across the country providing them with space to rekindle inspiration, grow their own leadership, and learn new tools to improve their communities.