9 Must-Attend Social Entrepreneurship Conferences in 2016

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Certain events resonate with us long after they’ve passed and inspire us to change the world for the better. Social entrepreneurship conferences, for example, attract industry leaders, entrepreneurs, volunteers, and people passionate about social impact from across the country to attend and gain a fresh perspective on their daily challenges.

Social entrepreneurship conferences are an invaluable learning opportunity for nonprofit professionals. They provide the opportunity to advance your mission, advocate your cause, network with like-minded individuals, and further develop your skillset in order to create change. In-house training can only go so far. While you can learn a lot from your colleagues, it can help to look outside your organization for expert advice and fresh ideas to supplement your education.

Luckily, there are quite a few empowering conferences available for nonprofit professionals to attend. From a four-hour workshop on planned giving to a three-day event with tech leaders, there’s sure to be a number of conferences in this list well-suited to your professional and organizational goals.

Here are the top nine nonprofit conferences you won’t want to miss in 2016.

Agents of Change Summit

San Diego, California | February 8-9, 2016

The Agents of Change Summit is designed to change people’s health and lifestyle choices for social good by providing research-driven presentations that are designed to drive behavior change in the nonprofit sector. This two-day experience is paired with meaningful networking sessions and compelling discussions led by leaders in public health and technology. The goal of the Agents of Change Summit to is provide a fast-paced yet purposeful experience that explores the science and technology that prompts behavior change.

Key Takeaways

With 350+ change agents, 30+ breakout sessions, and 10+ science and technology keynotes, attendees will be not only learn from influential public health and technology leaders but connect with like-minded attendees. Attendees will leave feeling inspired after surrounding themselves with individuals who share the same professional goal: to learn how to leverage behavior change marketing as a catalyst for positive social change.

Best for social entrepreneurs, public health and technology professionals, and those interested in learning effective behavior change practices.

Monumental Fundraising Conference

Washington, D.C. | February 18-19, 2016

The Monumental Fundraising Conference is a two-day event that joins together marketing professionals to exchange innovative ideas, generate insightful solutions, and strategize how to strengthen donor relations. This conference is a platform for raising public awareness and receptivity to “direct and interactive marketing-driven” philanthropy.

Key Takeaway

The Monumental Fundraising Conference brings together hundreds of professionals focused on similar goals. If you’re looking to improve your donor acquisition strategies, generate a higher return on your fundraising investments, create more effective lists, or better integrate your mix of fundraising strategies, this event is for you. With the help of inspiring speakers and case studies from your colleagues, you’ll get a better understanding and realistic view of the issues and successes your organization and others face regularly. Through veteran experience, you’ll learn which fundraising and marketing strategies work best to boost your campaigns.

Best for those who work directly with or touch your fundraising and marketing efforts.

IMPACT Conference

Amherst, Massachusetts | February 18-21, 2016

The IMPACT Conference “strives to connect, educate, and mobilize college students, nonprofit professionals, and educators to strengthen their communities through service, action, and advocacy”. This conference builds on the legacy of the COOL Conference and the Idealist Campus Conference, two conferences that were pioneers of supporting college student involvement in community service and civic engagement. The IMPACT Conference is the one time of year when students, administrators, faculty, AmeriCorps members and VISTAs, and nonprofit professionals gather together to focus on all forms of civic engagement.

Key Takeaways

The IMPACT Conference brings together the expertise and advice of past generations and those currently in the trenches. Combined, this mix of attendees can learn how to improve organizational strategies and discover opportunities that may otherwise have not been uncovered. Exchange stories, be inspired, and feel challenged to sustain your organization’s efforts by attending this four-day event.

Best for college students, nonprofit professionals, and educators.

Read Next: 5 Trends Defining Social Innovation in 2015


Austin, Texas | March 11-20, 2016

Year after year, South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conferences & Festivals is a launching pad for new creative content. SXSW fosters creative and professional growth alike, bringing together original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Creators of different forms of media, such as music and film, share their art for the opportunity to promote their work to a wide audience and gain exposure. Conference panel discussions present a forum for learning, businesses showcase their services the Trade Shows, and global networking opportunities are everywhere.

Key Takeaway

SXSW is a truly an experience that can’t be found at any other conference. Google, Ford, and the New York Times are just a few of the innovative businesses that attend. The wide variety of people and organizations ensures this isn’t the usual echo-chamber. The activity of moving between sessions, going to invite-only parties, intently following tweets, and building new connections ensures social growth; digitally and personally. The opportunity to connect with talented individuals is limitless here. The wide variety of speakers, thoughts, and topics of interest will leave your brain supercharged.

Best for marketers, content producers, programmers, and digital creatives looking to be on the cutting edge of technological change.

Social Good Tech Week

San Francisco, California | Spring 2016

Social Good Tech Week provides the opportunity to connect with thousands of people and learn how the power of technology can create and scale social change. Cutting-edge technology companies convene to highlight stories of social good organizations and startups using technology to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. Featured speakers present research, studies, and findings designed to encourage people to harness the power of technology to create social change.

Key Takeaway

A Social Good Tech Week attendee can not only expect to be exposed to thousands of tech savvy, innovative, and inspiring individuals but also learn from the best of the best who have perfected their technology to make a global impact. These tools can be the springboard for your organization to better use technology to make change happen. The large number of happy hours and networking events to attend is just an added bonus.

Best for techies and marketing professionals.

Nonprofit Technology Conference

San Jose, California | March 23-25, 2016

The Nonprofit Technology Conference brings together over 2,000 of the best and brightest nonprofit professionals on the planet in one space. They join together to push the innovation envelope by collaborating, exchanging, and generating new ways to spark change with technology. With over 100 sessions to choose from, attendees can select which are best suited to their organization. Explore new technologies, discover best practices, and learn how pressing issues are being solved.

Key Takeaway

Ever leave a conversation wishing you had collected the person’s contact information? No pen, no problem. Attendees of the Nonprofit Technology conference will receive access to a conference community platform which includes a sponsor/attendee directory and collaborative notes. From the 100+ opportunities to learn everything from design on a budget to working in the cloud, you’ll likely want to reconnect with conference attendees after to continue the conversation and make better use of your technology.

Best for techies, marketing professionals, and nonprofit leaders.

The Collaborative

Boston, Massachusetts | June 11-13, 2019

The Collaborative is a three-day event that brings together top leadership from across the social sector and showcases innovative solutions to today’s global problems. The overall experience features thought-provoking panels, curated debates, and first-hand access to the most exciting innovations happening today. The event culminates with the Classy Awards, a ceremony to recognize excellence in social innovation. The initiative leverages a comprehensive evaluation process to identify top-notch organizations. Last year, more than 3,600 programs in 115 countries were evaluated for the Awards.

Key Takeaway

Through sessions and shared conversations, Collaborative attendees walk away from the event with valuable insight from different cause sectors and a fresh perspective on social impact. Nonprofit professionals often don’t get the opportunity to talk with, meet, or learn about programs in different cause sectors. However, when a nonprofit in the health sector meets a nonprofit working with veterans, it can be impactful to hear about their challenges and successes. By sharing these stories, your organization may discover best practices you may not have ever considered. The Collaborative is the place to do just this, with like-minded individuals looking to make social impact but focused on different causes.

Best for nonprofit and foundation professionals, international agency workers, B-corp/for-purpose org professionals, and anyone interested in working in the social sector.


Santa Monica, California | June 15-16, 2016

DIGIMARCON WEST brings together the most thought provoking speakers in the digital marketing industry and provides attendees with the inside scoop on the latest and greatest digital marketing strategies and best practices. DIGIMARCON West empowers attendees to better serve their audience by providing them with the digital tools necessary to run a more productive organization.

Key Takeaway

DIGIMARCON offers all the elements and tools you need to accomplish digital marketing success. With a number of different sessions available, your team can attend what matters most to their role and bring back new ideas for organization-wide optimization. DIGIMARCON is such a popular event that it is held in multiple locations so no one has to miss out because of budget limitations. Can’t make the Santa Monica session? Don’t worry, there are other opportunities available that may be more convenient for you. These include:

DIGIMARCON CRUISE: Houston, Texas – April 10-17, 2016 (Royal Caribbean Cruise)
DIGIMARCON EAST: New York, New York – May 12-13, 2016
DIGIMARCON CANADA: Toronto, Ontario – May 19-20, 2016

Best for marketing professionals.


Washington, D.C. | June 21-23, 2016

Need help engaging different generations of donors? MCON is for you. Leaders and social entrepreneurs from all generations are brought together to help your organization get a better grasp on today’s social movements and turn interest in an issue into action. MCON also provides the tools to help organizations and companies operate seamlessly, represent their culture effectively, and showcase the transparency they need to collaborate and innovate.

Key Takeaway

Individuals, now more than ever before, want to make a positive change in the world. Millennials grew up wanting to make a difference and Boomers are now being tasked with harnessing technology to increase their ability to reach this generation. Attendees will leave MCON with a better understanding of today’s social trends and how they can respond to the next generation of do-gooders who want to donate their time, skill, and passion to a cause.

Best for nonprofit professionals, activists, B-corp/for-purpose org professionals, and anyone interested in influencing social impact.

Do you have any social entrepreneurship conferences you’d recommend adding to the list? Let us know in the comments below!


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