An important part of being an effective fundraiser is staying up to date on current fundraising trends, industry best practices, and donor preferences. One of the best ways to do that is to attend nonprofit conferences. They’re the best! In addition to the info-packed sessions and workshops, these conferences provide invaluable opportunities to connect with other fundraisers, share ideas, and encourage each other.
But how on earth do you choose the right fundraising conference to attend? There are so many choices!
We rounded up a few of our favorite nonprofit fundraising conferences and included our impressions of each one. We hope this will help you choose the conference that’s the best fit for you and your passions!
The Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference (AFP ICON)
This is one of our favorite conferences. There are tons of sessions, workshops, and roundtables to choose from, and they cover an unbelievably broad range of topics. There’s something for everyone! Sessions about fundraising and event planning are plentiful, but so are sessions around bookkeeping, IT management, staff development, and more.
One of the best parts of AFP ICON is the emphasis on tactical, practical information. You’ll leave every session you attend with handouts, examples, and ideas bouncing around in your head. This is a great learning opportunity for anyone in the nonprofit sector who wants to be more effective in their role.
Pro tip: Another outstanding aspect of AFP ICON is the emphasis on networking. See if your state, local, or regional AFP branch is hosting a reception! You’ll meet up with fundraisers from your area and make valuable local connections. Other gatherings and receptions at the end of each day provide ample opportunities to introduce yourself to like-minded fundraisers who can share ideas and support with you.
Check out our recap of AFP ICON 2023 here.
Learn more about AFP ICON 2024.
Nonprofit Storytelling Conference
AFP ICON and NTC are fun and educational, but they’re really big conferences! If you’re looking for a smaller event with a more specific focus, you may want to check out the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference!
This conference focuses primarily on nonprofit marketing and fundraising, and there’s something for nearly everyone who works in development. If you work in development, major gifts, grants, or event planning, you’ll love the emphasis on identifying and crafting compelling stories that make your marketing and fundraising more effective.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the happy hours, receptions, roundtables, and workshops. Storytelling is an art and a science, and this conference is a valuable opportunity to share ideas with your fellow fundraisers.
Learn more about the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference.
The Nonprofit Innovation and Optimization Summit (NIO)
If you love data or get excited about A/B tests, this is a great choice. NIO is put together by the team at NextAfter, a consulting company that focuses on helping nonprofits grow their digital fundraising by understanding donor behavior. They run tons of experiments and A/B tests to figure out which strategies work (or don’t), how donors behave under different circumstances, and how nonprofits can optimize their fundraising to be as effective as possible.
This is definitely a conference for the data-focused fundraiser. You’ll see lots of examples from other nonprofits and results from fundraising optimization experiments. You’ll leave this conference with tons of ideas and a renewed enthusiasm for experimentation, iteration, and optimization.
Pro tip: You’ll notice that exhibitors, session moderators, and other people give you tokens during the conference. Hang onto them! You can trade those tokens for some pretty sweet merchandise at the conference Swag Shop.
Learn more about the 2022 NIO Conference.
State & Regional AFP Conferences
Did you know that there are tons of different AFP conferences? AFP ICON is the most well-known (and most widely attended) conference, but many smaller AFP chapters host their own conferences and workshops. Some notable examples include Planet Philanthropy (put on by AFP Florida), BRIDGE Conference (by AFP in the DC Metro Area), and Fundraising Day (by AFP Toronto). Check with your local AFP chapter to see what local or regional options are available!
These smaller AFP conferences are outstanding resources for nonprofits. Aside from the opportunity to network with fundraisers from your area, you may be able to save some time (and money!) by not having to travel far from home. It’s also valuable to have a solid grasp of how philanthropy functions in your area. What works for a major fundraiser in Chicago may not work in a smaller community—the sessions at regional conferences are more likely to be specific to your community, its needs, and its possibilities.
Responsive Nonprofit Summit
If you’re looking for a conference that focuses on how to be a more responsive fundraiser
, who caters to the needs of your donors, Virtuous’s Responsive Nonprofit Summit is the conference for you. This virtual conference is a free three-day event that takes place exclusively online.
With 75 speakers and 36 sessions, this three-day conference is packed with information to help elevate your fundraising results by becoming more responsive and personal with every giver.
Learn more about the Responsive Nonprofit Summit 2024.
Nonprofit Marketing Summit
If you handle any kind of marketing for your nonprofit, attending this conference is a great way to hone your skills! A broad variety of sessions mean you can learn about anything from planning a social media marketing calendar to the ins and outs of Google Ad Grants.
Nearly every possible facet of nonprofit marketing is covered in this two-day event. If you’re looking to hone existing marketing skills or develop new ones, this is a wonderful resource!
Pro Tip: If you like to go back and re-watch sessions you loved (or watch the sessions you couldn’t attend!), spring for the VIP pass. In addition to other benefits, you’ll get recordings of all 30+ sessions so you can watch them when you want a refresher.
Learn more about the 2023 Nonprofit Marketing Summit.
Cause Camp is an outstanding event for anyone who appreciates turning best practices and industry know-how into action items you can use right away. The emphasis at Cause Camp is developing relationships with other fundraisers and learning strategies you can immediately take back to your nonprofit.
Pro Tip: If you’re really focused on taking your nonprofit marketing to the next level, consider enrolling in their Marketing Bootcamp. After their 2-day bootcamp, you’ll leave with a fully-developed marketing plan, including three months of planned content!
DonorPerfect Community Conference
The DonorPerfect Community Conference is a free virtual conference that teaches industry skills to nonprofit professionals. The theme for the 2023 DonorPerfect Community Conference is “Refresh” because sometimes that’s what fundraisers have no choice but to do. Whether that’s pivoting in response to current events and trends, discovering new methods for revitalizing donor relationships, or refreshing your budget, this free virtual conference has you covered.
The DonorPerfect Community Conference features 11 celebrated thought leaders that will help prepare you for the future of fundraising.
Pro Tip: Can’t attend the event live? DonorPerfect creates archives of each year’s presentations from the DonorPerfect Community Conference that you can view for free on their website.
The Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference will take place this July in National Harbor, MD, near Washington, D.C. Produced by the Association of Fundraising Professionals DC and the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, the event will focus on improving marketing, data analysis, and fundraising efforts.
Pro Tip: Registering for the current year’s event often includes access to recordings of last year’s sessions, so you get access to two years of expertise for the price of one!
Learn more about Bridge Conference.
Good Tech Fest
As the name implies, the Good Tech Fest is all about helping those in the social good space have more impact through data and technology. They pride themselves on providing sessions led by people currently working in the space, so you can make sure you’re taking away practical, easy-to-implement tips.
Pro Tip: While the main conference will be held in May, Good Tech does offer other online courses throughout the year. You can also become a member and get access to over 100 on-demand sessions from past events.
Learn more about Good Tech Fest 2024.
Qgiv Conference is one of Qgiv’s many initiatives designed to provide nonprofit professionals with exceptional fundraising tools and learning opportunities. The Qgiv conference is three days of exciting, CFRE-accredited workshops designed to help fundraisers raise money efficiently and effectively.
In addition to attending conference sessions, attendees had the opportunity to connect with nonprofit consultants and technology providers in the exhibit hall. Exhibitors ranged from digital agencies to donor management systems and grant databases—all companies that either work exclusively with nonprofits or have heavy involvement in the nonprofit sector.
To be the first to learn about Qgiv Conference’s 2024 dates, email email@example.com and ask to subscribe to conference updates.
Learn more about Qgiv Conference.
There are so many amazing options for fundraisers looking to attend a nonprofit conference. We’ve just listed seven, and that doesn’t even include sector-specific conferences (ex: healthcare-focused nonprofit conferences, faith-based-focused conferences, etc.) or organization-specific conferences (ex: YMCA’s annual conference, regional organization conferences, etc.). We hope this list gives you some insight into a few of our favorite conferences and what to expect from each one!
Looking for educational opportunities?
You’ll love our webinar program! Our guest speakers and Qgiv staff cover topics from nonprofit storytelling to legal compliance and beyond. Look through our webinar archive and put together your own in-home conference experience!