75+ Great Nonprofit Conferences for 2019

If you’re anything like me, a list of over 75 nonprofit conferences is stress-inducing. After all, I get paralysis when standing in the deodorant aisle at my local pharmacy. Do I go clear or stick? Roll-on or spray? Glitter in the stick? Do I want to smell like a tropical shower or have powder-fresh pits?

Choosing the wrong conference, however, can be the pits. Even the best ones take up work hours, often require travel, and are always associated with hard costs. If you want to get a full lie of the land, scroll down to access our full database of over 75 conferences. These cover all areas of the nonprofit sector, in the US and abroad. And, if you just want the highlights, our top 8 picks are below.

Top 8 nonprofit conferences for 2019

DMA Washington Nonprofit Conference

  • When: Feb 13-15, 2019
  • Where: Washington, D.C.
  • Website: https://dc.nonprofitfederation.org
  • What: Nonprofit fundraising and marketing conference
  • How much: $559-$660 (depending on timing and membership)
  • Audience size: Around 200
  • Who attends: Professional fundraisers, nonprofit communications teams, and tons of vendors.

Hosted by the DMA Nonprofit Federation, this multi-day conference offers plenty of fresh ideas and expertise. Networking is encouraged during breaks, and there is also a reception. Many major nonprofits attend and share case study successes in storytelling and fundraising. The D.C. setting makes it easy for attendees and sponsors to organize separate meetings with fellow attendees or local contacts. There are also plenty of vendors sharing knowledge and exhibiting their work.

SXSW Social & Global Impact + SXSW EDU

Note: We combined our summaries for the SXSW bonanza because, Texas.

  • When: March 4–7, 2019 (SXSW EDU); March 8–13, 2019 (SXSW)
  • Where: Austin, TX
  • Websites: https://www.sxsw.com/conference/social-and-global-impact; https://www.sxswedu.com/
  • What: Mega-marketing and tech conference. These tracks cover innovation, activism, comms, education and tech. So much tech.
  • How much: $345–$595 (SXSW EDU; depending on timing); $825–$1,325 (SXSW; depending on timing)
  • Audience size: 15,000 (SXSW EDU); 37,000 (SXSW)
  • Who attends: Professional fundraisers, nonprofit communications teams, and tons of vendors. And, everyone else. SXSW EDU is more focused to educators, government and people working in the ed space. Here’s their own handy data visualization on who attends SXSW EDU

If you’re the kind of person that thrives in crowds, parties, and socializing, this is your home. You must attend this conference. SXSW’s Social & Global Impact track is hosted under SXSW Interactive. The main event is a smorgasboard featuring some of the top 1% of nonprofits, as well as adventurous start-ups. The main issue here is that programming competes with the broader SXSW circus, including celebrity mainstages and a dizzying amount of vendors and exhibitors in the main hall (which is more like an airport hangar). 

SXSW EDU is a more focused conference in the lead-up to the main event. If the ed space is where you live, the exposure to the newest concepts and lessons from case studies is excellent. The exhibit hall and networking parties don’t get started until the main conference on March 8, so if you’re shelling out for this, make sure you love the session topics.

Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)

  • When: March 13–15, 2019
  • Where: Portland, OR
  • Website: https://www.nten.org/ntc
  • What: The longest-running, nonprofit-focused tech conference in the US
  • How much: $600-$1200  (depending on timing and NTEN membership)
  • Audience size: around 1,500
  • Who attends: Nonprofit communications teams, techies, and some fundraisers

We LOVE the community around this conference. The sessions are well-curated, with specific tracks and great opportunities for networking. There are parties thrown by vendors plus a larger gathering hosted by NTEN. NTEN programmers carefully choose their venues with accessibility in mind, and the whole event is planned with great attention to inclusivity. Be sure to do your homework on the sessions you go, to as some may feel like they’ll require advanced research. Make sure you save time for the sponsor exhibit hall. 

Cause Camp

  • When: March 25-26, 2019
  • Where: Lincoln, NE
  • Website: https://www.cause.camp/
  • What: Nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and leadership conference
  • How much: $499 ($99 for online)
  • Audience size: Around 300
  • Who attends: Nonprofit story tellers, executives and fundraisers

Cause Camp features a small audience and presenters with a high amount of polish. The content is carefully curated and well paced. Networking happens between sessions and at an opening-day party. The community is very welcoming and it is clear why many people return year after year.

AFP ICON

  • When: March 31–April 2, 2019
  • Where: San Antonio, Texas
  • Website: http://afpicon.com/
  • What: The largest conference in the world for fundraising professionals
  • How much: $599-$1,149  (depending on timing and membership)
  • Audience size: around 4,000
  • Who attends: Professional fundraisers, nonprofit communications teams, and tons of vendors

Hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, this is the Super Bowl of fundraising conferences. Representation from all of the main players in the CRM and donation platform games are here. Content is focused on the trends and tactics in fundraising with a lot of time (we’re talking hours a day) is allocated to the sponsor exhibit hall. Big points for networking and parties, which are thrown by the conference and sponsors. Remember when going that this is a group of fundraisers: Their job is to raise money. Game. On.

Engage For Good

  • When: May 29-30, 2019
  • Where: Chicago, IL
  • Website: https://conference.engageforgood.com
  • What:  Nonprofit and Corporate Social Responsibility conference  
  • How much: $1,000-ish; $350 for workshop only content
  • Audience size: Around 300
  • Who attends: CSR professionals, nonprofit marketers, executives, cause marketers  

Formerly known as the Cause Marketing Forum, this focused audience works (as the original name would suggest) in the cause marketing ecosystem. Content sits at the intersection of purpose and profit, featuring case studies of successful partnerships. Networking happens between sessions and at the opening day after-party. This is a great conference to learn from experts about smart earned-revenue models, and about how the CSR world at for-profit companies operates. 

National Conference of Volunteering and Service: Points of Light

  • When: June 18–20, 2019
  • Where: St. Paul, MN
  • Website: http://www.volunteeringandservice.org/
  • What: The world’s largest conference focused on volunteer and service, bringing together more than 2,000 nonprofit, government, business, and civic leaders to gain and share the knowledge, resources and connections..
  • How much: $300-$750 (depending on timing and membership)
  • Audience size: around 2,000
  • Who attends: Volunteer coordinators, nonprofit communications teams, gov’t and social entrepreneurs and vendors. Many organizations involved in the old Hands-On Points of Light and AmeriCorps networks.

This multi-day conference offers plenty of breakouts and practical, learning-driven tracks with an eye towards cross-sector collaboration. Service and volunteerism are a core theme, with many sessions focused on utilizing AmeriCorps and corporate volunteers. 2019’s theme will focus specifically on building internal capacity. Networking is encouraged during breaks, however there isn’t a main reception for dedicated networking. Plenty of vendors are on-site to share insights and exhibit their work.

 

Upswell

  • Where: Chicago, IL
  • When: November 13–15, 2019
  • Website: https://upswell.org/
  • What: Nonprofit fundraising and marketing conference
  • How much: $950–$1,250  (depending on timing, tier, and membership)
  • Audience size: 1,200
  • Who attends: Professional fundraisers, nonprofit communications teams, and tons of vendors.

The Independent Sector has agilely honed its multi-day conference offerings year-over-year, from the original IS Conference to 2017’s Our Common Future, to its latest incarnation, Upswell. Independent Sector has built in more downtime to network, catch up on emails, learn from exhibiting partners, or sit in a quiet room. That said, there are still plenty of tracks to choose from across formats that IS continues to refine. Many major nonprofits attend and share case studies in storytelling and fundraising, and the mainstage features major public figures .

Now go out there, grab your badge, and pick the right conference for you.

If we missed any quintessential nonprofit conferences or you would like to add your conference to the list, please add it below:

Also, just in case you are in charge of planning a conference, we love presenting and sharing our knowledge with the sector. Here are the topics we like to present around.

And here’s our podcast on how to effectively attend a conference with Social Media for Nonprofits