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Top Highlights from the Nonprofit Summit: Luminaries Gather to Discuss New Ideas, Innovations

The Nonprofit Summit took place virtually last week with more than 8,000 attendees from 130 countries. The inaugural event was a thought-provoking gathering for a community that overcame tremendous challenges over the past year. 

A key theme of the event, which occurred the day after the George Floyd murder verdict was announced, was the persistant and relevant work of many nonprofits on the frontlines of building a more just and equitable world. 

The Summit welcomed some of the biggest names in the nonprofit sector — like ALSAC St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Greenpeace, The United Nations World Food Programme, and UNICEF — to speak at the event’s global mainstage, in breakout sessions, and on discussion panels. 

Distinguished speakers address global topics

The event hosted an impressive roster of speakers, starting with conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, who spoke about the power of hope. Interviewed by activist and educator Natalie Warne, the two talked about the importance of technology — when used for good — and hope to effect change. 

The event also featured a conversation between Salesforce’s own Chief Philanthropy Officer, Ebony Beckwith, and Amal Clooney, the globally-recognized barrister in the field of international human rights and criminal law. Clooney, who has an impressive array of titles including co-teacher of the Human Rights course at Columbia Law School and co-founder and President of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, talked about the role technology plays in bridging humanitarian divides.

In addition, Tony- and Grammy-award winner, Leslie Odom, Jr., gave a riveting live performance on that connected the worldwide attendees through the power of music. 

Insight From Industry Leaders

More than 30 sessions across the Summit’s four primary event tracks had programming in all timezones and included: Increasing Fundraising Agility, Improving the Constituent Experience, Optimizing Data and Reporting, and Managing and Scaling Your Platform.

One panel conversation focused on the topic of Organizational Resilience: Embracing a Digital-First Future. The U.S.-specific panel was moderated by Joan Garry, author and founder of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, and featured Jarrod Bell from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Trovon Williams from the NAACP, and Mary Nemerov from the California Academy of Sciences. 

“Because of the pandemic, we had to think more creatively and digital advocacy became one of the strongest mechanisms for us to inform and activate activists across the country about issues the NAACP was leaning in on. We learned just how innovative we can be when we’re pushed, and there is no going back — digital advocacy has to be a part of what we do going forward,” said Williams.

Nonprofit Summit featured two panels with leaders from across the nonprofit sector

The APAC and EMEA-centric panel, moderated by Hanna Thomas Uose, included Jennifer Morgan from Greenpeace International and Jon Townsend from National Trust. Both panels featured insightful, wide-ranging conversations on constituent engagement, digital advocacy, fundraising, and how to keep the spirit of innovation alive post-pandemic.

“We recognized early on that if our supporters couldn’t visit our places, we needed to do more to engage with them through our digital channels. This became a primary means to keep our supporters engaged and help them to feel connected to nature. This also meant that when we opened, we could do so in a managed and safe way,” Townsend said.

Nonprofit Cloud Innovations

Nonprofit Trailblazers from all over the world also got a peek at the latest Nonprofit Cloud innovations from Salesforce. 

Among the new innovations announced at Nonprofit Summit is Marketing Cloud for Nonprofits, a new purpose-built marketing solution designed to help smaller nonprofits quickly and efficiently engage known supporters, and create more deeply personalized constituent experiences; a complete fundraising suite including Elevate Custom Fields for Giving Pages and Experience Cloud for Nonprofits (available now); Einstein for Nonprofits coming later this year; and the Power of Us Reimagined, coming later this year, which will add Elevate, a digital fundraising suite to the Salesforce Power of Us technology donation program by expanding our preferred partnership with Stripe.

Each of these innovations were designed for and with the nonprofits represented at Nonprofit Summit. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. and co-innovation — with partners like AWS and our customers — is an integral part in the development of our products, as well as our growth, success, and evolution. 

More Information

The inaugural Nonprofit Summit is a shining example of the power of community, and an important reminder of the responsibility that we have to use technology for good.

If you missed the event or would like to revisit the highlights, check out our on-demand content online.


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