Dave Thomas - as in code, not spicy chicken sandwiches or the best bike wheels in Arizona - just posted a challenge to other conference organizers:
So the Rails Community has shown what's possible [by raising $33,000 for charity]. Let's not let it stop there. Everyone in our industry is privileged; we're all way better off than the folks being helped by these charities. So let's take this up to the next level. Let's see if we can make all industry conferences into fund raising events.
That might actually encourage people - well, me at least - to go to more conferences and would definitely influence my decision on which conferences I did attend. If given the choice between two conferences with similarly interesting topics and a similar cost, I'd definitely choose the conference that was donating a portion of their profits to charity.