I’m still early in my journey. I have derived incredible value from attending a weekly lean coffee morning. There are 6-8 of us that meet up (and it is in meetup) for coffee and breakfast each Tuesday. The group is a bit of a mix and like this place comes from a diversity of backgrounds and opinions. It has been fantastic.
Supporting and facilitating attendance to these smaller meetups will aid interested people and demonstrates a commitment to their continuing learning.
I can’t talk to the conference front. I have heard many varying experiences. The only conference I have ever been to for Agile was last Monday and it was non-typical - workshop based as opposed to talks.
What I would love is a budget to spend on my development. Ultimately if I was given $3500 AU, I could afford to attend a course of my choice and attend 1 small conference or go to a premier conference or whatever. Self determination here might actually be a better path.
My experience is that people know what they need, know what they would like to do and would appreciate the chance to exercise their free will. If you need the justification, when they put out their requests to spend their “budget” ask them to give you a why. I’m sure you and the organisation could find a quite reasonable business justification for why it works.
I guess meet people where they are on the journey.