This recession affects everything. And the convention/conference business is no exception. In addition to the headline-making woes of Las Vegas, singled out by President Obama for hosting junkets of corporations receiving federal bailout funds, virtually every convention city is feeling the pain.

On the attendees side, many nonprofits have cut travel and conference budgets.

So, it came as no surprise when we received a press release from the Resource Alliance, organizers of the massive International Fundraising Conference (IFC) held in Noordwijkhout, Netherlands each October, that this year they would also host a virtual conference – IFC Online – on May 12-14, 2009

This virtual conference follows successful experiments by the Resource Alliance with webinars over the past two years. For this May’s event, organizers are planning ten 60-minute practical ‘workshops’ (including 30 minutes Q&A) and three 45-minute plenaries (including a 15-minute Q&A session). Each workshop will be delivered twice over the three-day period from 12-14 May, 2009; plenaries will be delivered once only.

The organizers are predicting an online audience of 1000. You can get a sneak preview of the program at Sneak Preview of IFC Online. According to the organizers, the maximum fee will be $275—a fraction of the cost of attending the on-the-ground IFC.

May’s IFC Online will focus on, what else, all things digital. Premal Shah, the founder of the micro-finance website, will be one of two plenary speakers. Another plenary speaker at the event is Ramya Raghavan, manager of nonprofits and activism at YouTube. The third plenary speaker is Scott Goodstein, who ran the mobile and social networks for the Obama campaign, discussing how nonprofits can adapt these models to their work.

IFC’s Online partner for this event are online training provider Forum for Fundraising. Learning Times, an online conference and community provider for training professionals has been engaged to host the conference.

Next post we’ll explore the potential of virtual conferences, conventions and other gatherings for nonprofits and take a look at some of the possibilities out there.

Meanwhile, those who prefer to gain knowledge and insight and do their social networking at a real-life conference bar have two choices: Invite some colleagues over to your computer for wine and wisdom, or register for the real-life IFC conference in October.


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