The obsession with not spending can be costly. Especially when it comes to time and innovation. While the financial and time investments tied to nonprofit professional development warrant serious consideration, too often they’re seen as roadblocks. Famed business management expert Peter Drucker stated there are only two functions of a business that produce results: marketing and innovation. It’s hard to do either in a vacuum. The best way to be inspired and hear about cutting edge technology, public relations and marketing is to go to places where they’re discussing those things, i.e., most nonprofit conferences, and most certainly Cause Camp.
The rise of the virtual event was coming even before the COVID-19 pandemic. It just sounds so good, right? Top speakers, totally free, oh…but…you have to be on Zoom for eight hours straight. Don’t kid yourself. You probably won’t actively listen to a third of the sessions and you definitely won’t watch them all on-demand. The best of intentions aside, these free for all events too often are lead capture tools aimed at your email address. It’s certainly worthwhile to sign up if there is a speaker or topic that you’re specifically interested in, but keep your expectations realistic. While online education can/should be engaging (hello…Nonprofit Hub’s weekly webinars are THE BEST:-), they can’t replace in-person networking and designated time away from the office.
Speaking of which…Getting away is an often overlooked silver lining of nonprofit conferences. Is there anything more exciting than turning on your “out of office” email response? You need education and inspiration, but if you’ve been in the sector long, you need and deserve time away to recharge, too. Among peers, free coffee (make sure they have free coffee!), a new town, some fun swag, and thought leadership is a pretty fantastic way to do it.
A small caveat…If you’re going to step out, make sure you truly step out. Don’t check email every ten minutes and certainly do not work during the conference. An investment in a nonprofit conference pass should have major ROI. Make sure your investment of attention, focus, and networking compares to the ticket price. You won’t regret it.
Asking permission or for budget allocation for nonprofit conferences (for anything, really) isn’t fun. In fact, it can be daunting. Here are some things you can do to prepare a compelling case for support for your nonprofit conference excursion:
There’s nothing better than the high of having new ideas, new peers, and a whole of inspiration. There’s also nothing worse than returning to the office to face piles of messages and new work. You rush back into the day-to-day and manage to forget everything that wooed and inspired you at the conference over the span of 24 hours. At some point, likely years later, you’ll clean out your car or desk and find the program or swag notebook you filled with fantastic notes and business cards and you’ll sigh.
Or, not. Seek out conferences that are built for meaningful retention and relationships. Here are a few things we do at Cause Camp to make sure every attendee doesn’t lose the energy or ideas they find at camp: