Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nonprofit Conference Etiquette

Last week I attended the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits joint annual conference with the Minnesota Council of Foundations and had the opportunity to meet lots of new great nonprofit folk, in addition to presenting two sessions "Become Social Media Savvy" and "Evaluation 101: Focus Groups and Surveys".

While at this conference a group of were hanging out chatting about donor meetings and who should be going (a whole other post), when a woman from nonprofit came up to us and started explaining what her nonprofit did. This was great because who doesn't love to hear about what all the amazing nonprofits in their community do? Once she was done explaining, she continued on to ask us to give. When we politely declined, she went on to a group sitting next to us, gave the same speech, and asked them to give. After they declined, she left the area and I can only assume went to solicit more gifts.

Typically I never mind being asked for a donation because nonprofits need money to run. But, I think many conferences actually state in their rules not to mention it is against conference etiquette to solicit your colleagues at a nonprofit conference. I mean, didn't she realize that pretty much everyone there worked for a nonprofit organization, and if they all decided to go around and solicit we would have had over 1,500 people asking for gifts? It would have been mayhem not to mention annoying, and would likely result in people not going. So, the next time you go to a nonprofit conference, remember that this is the "safe space" that all of us can come together to learn - not your opportunity to solicit your colleagues.

p.s. I will be posting more info from sessions from the conference, in addition to stuff from next week's American Evaluation Conference. I will also be posting slides from my two sessions on my website on Monday.