Blackbaud conference on track

Charleston Post and Courier
Jonathan Maze, Staff Writer
September 1, 2001

While conferences around the nation have been canceled in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Blackbaud’s International Conference on Philanthropy is still on track for next month.

In fact, of the 876 people registered for the event as of Friday, less than a dozen have canceled, officials with the Charleston-based software company said.

Perhaps that is because much of what the conference is all about is more pertinent these days.

Concern over the terrorist attacks has spurred Americans to open their checkbooks to the tune of an estimated $360 million for various aid organizations to help with relief efforts. And of the 107 sessions scheduled at Blackbaud’s conference, many are designed to help non-profit organizations raise money, use technology and manage their finances.

“The conference includes interesting topics important to any non-profit at any time,” said Loraine Brown, chairwoman of the conference task force. “A lot of it still applies; it just applies now more than ever.”

Blackbaud officials expect about 1,000 people to attend this year’s conference, to be held Oct. 21-24 at the Charleston Area Convention Center. Attendees are expected to account for 2,400-room nights at local hotels.

Registration for the full conference costs $795, but local non-profits can register for $299.

Blackbaud, which makes software for non-profits and educational organizations, held the first conference last year largely as a nationwide gathering of its clients.

This year, part of the conference will continue to focus on helping non-profits use Blackbaud’s software, but that emphasis has been reduced somewhat, and the event is aimed more at philanthropy in general.

“This year we’ve made a more conscious effort to focus not just on our customers but to focus on everyone in philanthropy,” Brown said. She said the bulk of attendees are Blackbaud customers, but not all.

The theme of this year’s conference is Cultivating Relationships in the Internet Age – using technology not only to help people give but to work with donors and build relationships.

To that end, Blackbaud has secured David and Tom Gardner, better known as the cofounders of The Motley Fool, as the conference’s keynote speakers.

The Motley Fool is a personal finance company that provides investment advice through a variety of online and offline media – including the Internet.

Rachel Hutchisson, Blackbaud’s director of corporate communications, said the Gardners have what the company wanted in a keynote speaker, including broad appeal among many different people and a large Internet community.

They also can speak to non-profits specifically because the Gardners have run online giving campaigns. The Motley Fool even has its own answer to philanthropic giving, “Foolanthropy.”

“They’re people who very much understand our world,” Hutchisson said. “Often people who typically speak to businesses speak to companies. The terminology is very different in the non-profit world. We needed to have someone who could relate to our audience.”

Back To The Top