Inspiration for Accelerating Social Change


A Look at the 2018 Conference Season

2017 was a year of activism. The women’s movement grabbed headlines globally with #MeToo and the Women’s March. Black Lives Matter continued working towards racial justice and freedom from violence. Even scientists got into the mix with the March for Science. If you work in the nonprofit field, it’s likely that you also became more mobilized to achieve your organization’s mission. How can you keep up this momentum? What are the most effective ways to bring your vision to reality? To help you in this quest, we’ve compiled a list of six conferences geared towards accelerating social change, presented in chronological order.

Cause Camp
The first conference on our list is Cause Camp, which takes place on March 26th and 27th in Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as online. Hosted by Nonprofit Hub, this conference aims to “show nonprofits how to be more remarkable in the areas of marketing, fundraising, leadership, innovation, and more.” It’s also an opportunity to attend a talk on “Thinking Differently as a Nonprofit Professional” given by Vu Lee, executive director, vegan, Pisces, and author of the humorous and insightful blog, Nonprofit AF.

2018 Just Economy Conference
On the heels of Cause Camp comes the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2018 Just Economy Conference, which runs from April 9th through the 11th in Washington, DC. This gathering brings together people working towards economic justice from across the nonprofit, academic, government, and private sectors. Sessions include explorations of such topics as fair lending, housing, community organizing, and workforce development. There are really some fascinating sessions to choose from, including “Organizing Amidst Digital Chaos” and “Economic Insecurity and Addiction in America’s Coal and Industrial Communities.”

Social Innovation Summit 2018
From the fourth through the sixth of June, Silicon Valley plays host to the Social Innovation Summit 2018. This event, billed as a “global convening of black swans and wayward thinkers,” presents an opportunity to explore how to propel social change through technology and innovation. While you’re there, drop by the Computer History Museum and visit the iPhone exhibit or test out your coding skills.

2018 European Social Marketing Conference
For those across the pond, or looking for an excuse to travel there, the 2018 European Social Marketing Conference in Antwerp is a “must-attend event for social marketing, behavior change, communication, and policy professionals across Europe who are working to achieve social good through positive behavior change.” Early registration is now open for this conference, which will be held from September 5th through the 7th. Oh, and did you know that Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world? So, while you’re there you can go shopping in the diamond district, or if you’re on a nonprofit budget, check out one of their many outdoor markets.

The Communications Network Annual Conference (COMNET18)
If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration to better communicate your cause, head to San Francisco from October 10th to the 12th to take part in COMNET18. This conference seeks to convene nonprofit and foundation leaders working towards improving the world through strategic communications. In between sessions, you can brush up on your San Francisco history by visiting the Cable Car Museum or Alcatraz Island. Just be sure to keep bundled up against that San Francisco fog, which is so pervasive that it even has its own Wikipedia entry.

Executive Retreat 2018: Coming Together to Discover, Collaborate, and Learn
Another October event, also in California, is Board Source’s Executive Retreat 2018, which takes place from October 14th through the 16th in San Diego. This retreat enables participants to meet and connect with other nonprofit chief executives from throughout the country and sector to discuss the unique challenges of their role and what it takes to strengthen the leadership partnership with their board. While not exclusively a social change conference, we put this one on the list because it offers the perfect opportunity to sharpen your leadership skills, regain your strategic focus, and recharge your batteries in one of the most relaxing places in the state.

While it’s still early in the year, and many of the conference lineups may not be set in stone yet, it’s a great time to take advantage of those early registration fees or to consider making your own presentation at one of these conferences. If you’re looking for further ideas and inspiration, don’t forget to visit the GrantStation PathFinder website and scroll through the conference section.

Action steps you can take today
  • Click on the links above to register for your favorite conference(s).
  • Visit the GrantStation PathFinder website to discover even more conferences for the nonprofit professional.