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The top social impact conferences and 4 reasons employees need to attend

Conferences can sometimes feel like a drag, a day away from work, speaking with strangers and bad conference food. And with social impact organizations being money conscious, it’s not uncommon for conferences to get de-prioritized in the budget.

Not spending on conferences may save you money in the short term but does a disservice for your organization in the long run. Attending a good conference can be a game changer for an employee- a source of inspiration, insight and practical knowledge. But more than professional development, conferences are important for the organization as a whole. Whether it’s a one day local session or a multiple day international affair, here’s four reasons why you should lobby to have conferences mandated as a priority for your employees (and if you’re an employee- 4 reasons to convince your boss to send you).

Bonus – we curated the top social impact conferences to attend.

4 reasons employees need to attend conferences:

1. Become Smarter

Learning may be one of the most obvious benefits of going to a conference, but it’s also one of the most important. Not only do your employees get inspired by experts in the industry, they also get access to insights and lessons that they’d never get at the office. Whether you want them to expand their existing knowledge in a particular field or be exposed to something new, there’s many conference options. Just make sure you research the agenda and speakers well before paying the registration fee.

2. Meet Influential People

Second to learning, networking is one of the most common reasons people like going to conferences. And for good reason- it is critical to build and maintain relationships in the industry as it is a relatively small community. Conferences present a unique opportunity to interact and create meaningful connections with other socially conscious professionals and potential partners.

3. Demonstrate you Care about Personal Development

One of the top reasons that employees leave their current employer is a lack of career mobility in the organization. Young top talent is looking for upward mobility, skill training or a clearly defined career path with their impact job. If your organization doesn’t have a formal career growth plan or internal professional development opportunities- conferences are a great alternative. Encouraging your employees to go to conferences signals you care about their development.  

4. Make the Company Better 

By prioritizing the sharing of information with the rest of the team, you ensure that not only does the employee benefit, but the company does as well. Having a dedicated time to reflect and share the insights with the team is a great opportunity for discussion and learning. It also provides your employees with extra incentive to be engaged and attentive during the conference sessions.

Top social impact conferences by theme:

Employee Engagement 


New York, New York

March 23 – 25,

The 14th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship promises to be the most interactive summit yet! Fresh new speakers and valuable content will be presented through plenary sessions, workshops and peer-to-peer breakout sessions.

Cause & Brands

2015 Corporate Citizenship Conference

Austin, Texas

April 19-21, 2015

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference is a two-and-a-half-day event uniquely tailored to corporate citizenship and CSR business professionals.

Cause Marketing Forum 

Chicago, Illinois

May 27-28, 2015

Where purpose meets profit.

Sustainable Brands

San Diego, California

June 1-4, 2015

Brand, sustainability & design leaders find inspiration, tools and partnerships to drive business success and positive impact.

Companies and Causes Canada

Toronto, Ontario

October 22, 2015

This full day event showcases best practices in corporate/cause partnerships, provided an opportunity to network with both corporate and nonprofit peers and taught attendees how to take their programs to the next level.

Social Good

Social Good Summit 

New York, NY

September 27-28, 2015

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world.


Chicago, Illinois

June 24-25, 2015

MCON is a two-day experience for corporate, nonprofit and public leaders to discover the movements shaping our world and the next generation of innovators who are making them happen.With fascinating speakers and tangible opportunities to learn and grow, MCON 2015 is the premier conference for individuals interested in compelling movements and ideas.

Net Impact

Seattle, Washington

November 5-7

The Net Impact Conference is the leading forum for students and professionals who want to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems.


South By Southwest introduces SXgood – the official social good platform at SXSW. SXgood is the wayfinder for attendees interested in social innovation, impact design, and cause issues.

NEW ADDITION from community member:

Skoll World Forum 

Oxford, England

April 13-15, 2016

Each year, nearly 1,000 distinguished delegates from the social, finance, private and public sectors convene in Oxford for three days and nights of critical debates, discussions and work sessions aimed at innovating, accelerating and scaling solutions to social challenges.

Impact Investing


San Fransisco, California

October 6-9, 2015

SOCAP15 is the world’s leading conference on impact investing and social enterprise.  SOCAP15 will unite innovators in business, tech, the sharing economy, health, philanthropy, and more to advance environmental and social causes.

Social Finance Forum 

Toronto, Ontario

November 12-13, 2015

The Social Finance Forum is the place to engage leaders & practitioners in the diverse social finance scene.



March 23-25, 2016: San Jose, CA

Where the Nonprofit Technology Community Meets. NTEN aspires to a world where all nonprofit organizations use technology skillfully and confidently to meet community needs and fulfill their missions.

Are we missing any must-attend conferences? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add to the list.

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  1. Joyanne
    March 18, 2015 at 4:42 am — Reply

    Really great list of conferences to be aware of! Will be making note of some of there. Perhaps SociaLIGHT in Toronto/Vancouver could be added to this list?

    Also, good list of reasons to attend above. #4 is my fave – makes sense to share the knowledge gained with the rest of the team.

    • March 18, 2015 at 1:08 pm — Reply

      Joyanne- glad that the list helps and thanks for the suggestion regarding the SociaLIGHT conference. We agree sharing is so important and probably one of the most underrated aspects of going to a conference!

  2. Julius Tapper
    July 8, 2015 at 7:52 pm — Reply

    The Skoll World Forum was probably the best conference that I’ve been to for content. Must do if you have the chance!

    • July 8, 2015 at 8:04 pm — Reply

      Thanks Julius for the suggestion. We’ve added it to the list!!

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