Conferences to Attend to Meet Nonprofit Clients

Conferences to Attend to Meet Nonprofit Clients

Here’s a common question I get: What conferences should I attend if I want to meet potential nonprofit clients?

I personally prefer to attend conferences that are about the kinds of work clients would hire me to do, so I’m more likely to attend conferences that have a strong nonprofit marketing and/or fundraising track, my favorite being the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

I’m also frequently at conferences sponsored by the various individual state associations of nonprofits and chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, usually as a speaker.

Philanthropy.com published this conference list for 2014 at the end of last year.

Socialmedia.biz assembles a SuperGuide of the best social media, technology, marketing and media conferences for the upcoming year, which they  publish the first Monday of the year. Not all of these draw big nonprofit crowds, but many do. 

If you prefer to work with a certain type of nonprofit working in an particular field, there’s very likely an association or alliance that nonprofits like that belong to.

For example, I’ve been a speaker at events like the Land Trust Alliance Rally, a national conference for thousands of local land trusts, the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, and the General Assembly of YMCAs.

Should I Try to Speak, Exhibit, or Just Attend?

Speaking at conferences is great, because it helps establish you as an expert. Unless you work at a very big firm, exhibiting is probably not worth the time and money. If you go just as an attendee, build your time at the event around networking.

What advice do you have? What conferences do you attend to meet nonprofit clients? What’s your approach to using that time well?