The 2018 Maryland Nonprofits Annual Conference occurred on October 4 and 5, 2018.

Creating impact in our communities requires us to deeply connect with a broad and diverse array of stakeholders. Given the charged climate in the US and around the world, this can seem daunting. But there’s hope…The ways we carry out our work and talk about our efforts – how we individually demonstrate our brands – affects not only our approach to creating community change but also our likelihood of success. We can break down barriers by fostering diverse leadership, embracing varied audiences, offering inclusive programming, advocating, and applying a racial equity lens to our technology, communications, and marketing strategies. At #MANOAC18, we focused on creating the greatest impact possible by advancing equity and investing in solid organizational capacity. 

#MANOAC18 featured keynotes by two powerhouse women, Makani Themba (Chief Strategist, Higher Ground Change Strategies) and Amy Sample Ward (CEO, NTEN). Both are invested in meaningful community engagement that creates lasting change and spoke to strategies that we can all use to more inclusive. 

#MANOAC18 was a unique opportunity for in-depth exploration on topics necessary to create positive systemic change. Program managers, CEOs, and other leaders built skills in strategy, human resources, fundraising, leadership, and advocacy. Fundraisers, communications teams, and marketing staff learned new ways to run effective campaigns that broaden their reach – particularly important considering the opportunities that are upon us with the 2018 midterms and 2019 legislative session. A special track for CFOs demystified the world of government contracts and grants and introduce new strategies to make resources go further. 

#MANOAC18 featured special programming presented by the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth (MARFY). Direct care professionals, supervisors and program leaders benefited from the exploration of trauma-informed care, building relationships with families, retaining a strong workforce, and being inclusive in service delivery.


MAKANI THEMBAChief Strategist, Higher Ground Change Strategies

How we talk about our work can make all the difference in the level of resources we attract to achieve our missions. Words that inspire, connect and uplift our communities also inspire our donors. How we engage our audiences to support our causes – whether it be in public policy, movement building, or a fundraising appeal – truly matters to the level of success and response rate we receive. The words we use can even make a difference in our organizational culture and how well we achieve our mission goals. With the best of intentions, we make mistakes in our messaging that, social science research shows, render them ineffective. Often, making subtle, correcting shifts can feel counter-intuitive.  Maryland Nonprofits’ 2018 Annual Conference keynote speaker, MAKANI THEMBAChief Strategist, Higher Ground Change Strategies has decades of experience steeped in the research and practice of effective framing for change communications. She brings a racial justice lens to her work and has an accessible and inclusive way of helping us think differently about how we communicate with and engage diverse audiences. 

AMY SAMPLE WARD, CEO, Nonprofit Technology Network

Maryland Nonprofits’ 2018 Annual Conference keynote speaker, AMY SAMPLE WARDCEO, Nonprofit Technology Network is dedicated to educating and supporting organizations in using technology to create meaningful community engagement and make lasting change. Whether it is by connecting individuals, organizations, campaigns, or possibilities, Amy hopes to facilitate the nonprofit technology sector transitioning into a movement-based force for positive change. 

In 2013, Amy co-authored Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to implement online multichannel strategies to spark advocacy, raise money, and engage your community with Allyson Kapin. She previously co-authored Social by Social, a handbook in using social technologies for social impact, and has contributed to various other publications about social change and technology. In addition to serving as NTEN’s CEO, she is a speaker, author, and trainer having worked with groups and spoken at events around the world.


Recognizing the critical partnership between nonprofits and funders in affecting the change we seek in our communities, ABAG joined its strategic partner, Maryland Nonprofits, to present the 2018 Annual Conference. Through this conference and partnership, ABAG sought to increase the impact of its members by sharing expertise, influencing good governance of nonprofits, and increasing opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. ABAG is the network for Maryland philanthropy with a membership stewarding more than $9 billion in charitable assets. Learn more about ABAG: