MARQUETTE — A large number of those involved in the nonprofit sector of the Upper Peninsula made their way to the campus of Northern Michigan University Thursday.

That’s where the Great Lakes Center for Youth Development held its 12th annual U.P. Nonprofit Conference. The event is designed to provide skills and knowledge about nonprofit-related activities like fundraising and strategic planning. The conference also offers networking opportunities for the over 2,700 nonprofits spread out across the peninsula.

“So there might be an organization in the eastern U.P. like Sault Ste. Marie doing the same thing that an organization in Marquette is doing, but they would never get an opportunity to talk,” said GLCYD Associate Victoria Leonhardt. “So when they get here, we’re able to be like, ‘hey, you do this, and you do this. Have a conversation about what’s working [and] what isn’t.”

“We’re all about collaboration, and that’s what you gain from a day like today. You share business cards, and you share ideas about how we can work together to make measurable differences for the good people of the U.P.” said Jim LaJoie, Executive Director of the Superior Health Foundation.

Attendees started off their day with a lesson on the history of the nonprofit sector and how its structure creates unique challenges from Matthew Downey of Grand Valley State University’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy. After that, conference-goers split up for workshop sessions on topics like grant writing and fund development planning.