A Guide to bbcon 2020 for Higher Ed Professionals

While you might not be able to join us in person this year, one thing is for certain – bbcon 2020 Virtual will still expose you to new ideas and people and hopefully inspire you when you return to work. This year’s event is unique as we will not only go virtual for the first time, but the conference will be global and free for all attendees.

Higher ed is the largest group represented with thousands of professionals joining from private and public 2-year and 4-year institutions. You’re guaranteed to (virtually) collaborate with peers from departments across campus, including advancement, marketing, financial aid, academic leadership and more.

Keep reading for a breakdown of this year’s schedule as well as guidance to help higher education professionals make this their best bbcon yet!


bbcon 2020 Virtual Schedule at a Glance

  • bbcon Day 1: Tuesday, October 6

The conference officially kicks off with an opening keynote address. This year we have actress, director, producer, bestselling author, and humanitarian, Amy Poehler, joining us on the virtual mainstage! Amy is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and sought-after talents with credits including that of actress, writer, director, producer, and bestselling author. Within and beyond her expansive creative roles, Amy underscores the values of individualism and kindness, serving as an ambassador for the Worldwide Orphans Foundation and playing an active role in women’s issues.

Following the opening keynote, we break into our Super Sessions. For the Higher Ed Super Session, panelists from Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Eduventures, and Microsoft will join Chris Krackeler, president of Blackbaud Higher Education Solutions, to discuss new trends from 2020 and how Blackbaud customers and the industry are responding to today’s environment and developing new strategies for success.

After the Super Sessions, attendees can use this time to visit our Virtual Marketplace as well as network with peers and industry experts before logging into their selected afternoon breakout sessions. To finish off the day, we’ll hear from Dara Torres, a mother, author, entrepreneur, and five-time Olympic veteran.  Torres became the oldest swimmer to ever make the U.S. Olympic team at age 41 and continues to inspire everyone to go after their dreams regardless of their age.

  • bbcon Day 2: Wednesday, October 7

In addition to your selected breakout sessions, the day will begin and end with words from inspirational speakers like Marc Brackett, Ph.D., author of Permission to Feel, Dr. Cornel West, professor, philosopher, author, and activist, Justin Dillon, award-winning entrepreneur, author, and founder/CEO of FRDM, and Alice L. Ferris, fundraising leadership expert and founder of GoalBusters.

During the opening and closing keynotes we’ll also hear from Blackbaud leaders such as Chief Executive Officer Mike Gianoni, Chief Marketing Officer Catherine LaCour, and Chief Products Officer Kevin McDearis.

  • bbcon Day 3: Thursday, October 8

Thursday is a shorter day. It kicks off at 11:15 am ET with attendees spending most of the day at their individual breakout sessions. At 2 pm ET we’ll hear from our closing main-stage keynote and conclude our first-ever virtual bbcon conference.


Getting Organized with bbcon 2020 Virtual

With more than 100 breakout sessions, it can be a little challenging to prioritize sessions. Here are a few tricks to help narrow your options to the sessions that will be the most impactful for your work:

  • Picking your sessions. There are 13 sessions included in the higher education track, but this doesn’t mean you have to pick this track and stick with it. We try to give attendees a mix of session topics that include thought leadership, onboarding, maintaining empowered users, and filling operational gaps with tech. Over half of our higher ed bbcon presentations feature a customer voice to help you approach specific problems, get results, or leverage technology effectively at the advice of your peers. Our end goal is to provide a variety of presentations that pique your interest and leave you with actionable insight to take back to your institution.
  • Map out a session grid. I recommend that you ask yourself what do you want to get out of bbcon? This will help you pick your sessions. Do you want to hear about technology? Do you want to hear from peers? Deciding what’s valuable to your work versus what’s just merely interesting will help you narrow down your choices.
  • Be prepared. Make the most of your sessions by having all anything you may need during a session within reach. Items could include a water bottle or your favorite caffeinated beverage, and snacks. Don’t forget to have a note pad handy to take notes so you can immediately begin putting that info into action.
  • Block time off on your calendar. Once you’ve determined which sessions you want to attend, reserve that time on your calendar. This will help mitigate possible conflicts and last-minute changes.
  • Embrace virtual networking. Throughout the conference there will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to network with peers and with Blackbaud staff. Remember, you can also schedule one-on-one time with attendees, speakers, and sponsors using the networking feature in the virtual platform.
  • Take advantage of the break times. Get up and stretch or take a short walk. Use that break time to refresh so you are ready for your next session.

This year may look different, but you can expect the same level of excellence that we have provided in the past. I hope you are as excited as we are for bbcon 2020 Virtual and we’ll see you virtually there!