Report from the Field: Nonprofit Business Summit 2011

Yesterday, the Xico staff went to the Nonprofit Business Summit, a conference put on every year by the Phoenix Business Journal. It was a good event overall and putting out candy at 3pm was an inspired way to beat the afternoon lag with a sugar rush.

One of the best sessions of my day was a seminar on volunteer recruitment and retention. This is a topic that nonprofit people think about a lot and I really appreciated the honest, practical advice from this session. The presenters were also savvy enough to include audience participation activities, because 1 1/2 hours is a long time to listen to a lecture.

Of course, the real reason to go to conferences is the networking that goes on before, after, and sometimes during, sessions. It was great to talk shop with people from the Desert Botanical Garden and Free Arts of Arizona and to catch up with our friends from Operation Peace and Public Allies Arizona. The upcoming CALA events were a hot topic with the organizations I talked to.

The only thing I would have changed about the conference was the lack of arts organizations, and even more so, the lack of Latino organizations. I know many nonprofits are struggling with financial problems right now, but that’s a great reason to go to events to meet with colleagues and business leaders, get your name out there, find partnerships, and learn what works.