Many nonprofits and other charitable organizations host events to increase support and spread the mission of their cause. Fundraising events are a great way to engage donors and raise money, helping different types of organizations take action in their field. Then hopefully, your event guests will turn into consistent supporters.
However, successful fundraising events take a lot of planning, and if your nonprofit doesn’t prepare with ample time and tools, you risk problems from the very beginning. Though the use of software solutions and tools aren’t necessary, it reduces the risk of human error. For example, many make the mistake of manually collecting event tickets which can let important guest information fall through the cracks.
Most organizations invest in event planning software to help them collect and store event data without the risk of data silos. Whether it’s the attendees’ financial information or whether you’re effectively sending out emails to your guests, tools and software systems can surely lighten the load for any fundraising team.
As a modern fundraiser, you likely already depend on some sort of event tool to help you manage the planning. However, it’s a good idea to consistently reflect on how your processes can be better and more efficient. In this guide, you’ll be reviewing the fundraising event planning basics, broken down through these main points:
- Finding the best fundraising event idea.
- Reaching your supporters to find guests.
- Providing easy ways to register for the event.
- Figuring out how to improve for next time.
You want your fundraising event to captivate guests and encourage them to donate to your cause. Once you consider how you can connect your mission to donors, your event registration software will help you execute the plan. Let’s get started!
1. Finding the best fundraising event idea.
Ultimately, the type of fundraising event you host typically determines whether guests attend. You shouldn’t be planning an event that won’t interest anyone because then no one wants to attend or participate.
Many organizations host successful fundraising events, and while you might think mimicking them will garner you the same results, that is likely not the case. Larger organizations based on current events with a more time-sensitive need will probably benefit from a quick fundraising event like a text-to-give campaign. However, smaller organizations with large youth support might do better with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
To determine the fundraising event that is best suited for your mission and will pique your donors’ interests, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions and get a better sense of the context of your event or campaign. Here are some questions you can start with:
- Who are your current donors and supporters? Take a look at your current donor and supporter pool and note any similarities. If a large proportion of them are a certain age demographic, it might make sense to cater to that. Or, you could take a look at the location that most of them reside in and consider the popular attractions there.
- When do you want to plan the event? Timing your fundraising events is key, as certain periods of the year can help increase the charitable feeling in the air. For instance, end of year giving is a huge time when donations are made, because people’s finances tend to be in order and the holidays make everyone feel philanthropic. Themed events to other holidays are a good idea too, like Halloween or the Fourth of July!
- How can you connect your mission to your event? A great event has some tangible connection to your organization’s broad mission. For example, if your nonprofit helps provide housing you can invite donors and volunteers to come together and repair an old building together. This can also be as simple as providing concrete ways the fundraiser will benefit your cause. All you have to write is something like “Every 100$ raised is a family in a better home.”
Finding the best fundraising event idea is the first step to complete, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. For a huge, comprehensive list of fundraising ideas, check out this Funds2Orgs guide.
2. Reaching your supporters to find guests.
Once your event idea is in motion, you have to figure out the best way to attract guests. This is done by developing a wide-reaching and comprehensive marketing plan.
All organizations need a marketing plan if they’re trying to reach the public. There are school marketing strategies to attract student prospects and even camp marketing strategies to connect with potential campers.
Your event registration software should include some sort of marketing tool that helps you communicate with constituents. This way, you can reach your supporters to find guests.
A good start is to contact past attendees and donors to gain initial interest in your event. With your event registration tool, browse your event and donation data to get a sense of those who might want to attend your event. To really get these first potential guests excited, send a discount ticket code or “early bird registration” invite! The right tool lets you segment email recipients so you send this guest perk to only those who qualify.
After this step is done, remember to post your event listing on your various social media platforms and in your email newsletter to attract even more guests! Once people start to register, you can then leverage your communications tool to better reach them.
Look for these two features in your event planning tools:
- Automated actions based on triggers. Some event tools are able to automate actions depending on what a registrant or guest does. For example, this can simply be an automated confirmation and payment transaction email when the registration is complete! Simple perks like this save your team time from manually performing tasks so they can focus more on your guests and event.
- Scheduled emails. Sometimes, you want to send out a message but it is not the right time yet. The best event tools let you write out your email carefully and then choose the best time to schedule sending it for the future. This way you can ensure that all your email content is correct and you can send out announcements at the perfect time without worry. This can come in handy if you want to send out event reminder emails just a couple of days before the actual event or an event survey once the event finishes.
All great and successful nonprofit organizations have thought out marketing strategies, so don’t let this process go to the wayside. Take advantage of your event registration tool and increase your registration rates.
3. Providing easy ways to register for the event.
It’s not uncommon for someone to really want to go to an event, but instead end up not even registering. This is known as shopping cart abandonment— when a person goes through most of the work to purchase something but decides to back out. This can be due to various reasons, but often it’s because the process is too long and the forms are unnecessarily complicated.
Your event registration software should be making the process as smooth and seamless for the user, ensuring that at no point they change their mind. And if they do, it’s definitely not due to the registration form.
How can you prevent shopping cart abandonment? Look at your event registration tool and consider if it has all the abilities and features needed to maximize your success.
- Optimize for any device. Go past just online registration and make sure your forms are accessible on any device. These days, one in five American adults are “smart-phone” only internet users. This means that their cellphones are the only way they access the internet. Ensure registrants can fill out your forms while on the go and from the convenience of wherever they are.
- Personalize the registration process. The best registration software has conditional logic abilities. This means that the form changes based on previous submissions the user puts, like adding an extra waiver if the user indicated they want to participate in an optional activity (to learn about event waivers, click here). This also means that discounts or additional transactions are automatically added if the user is eligible.
- Offer group registration. Though this may not seem like a huge deal, it’s important that your event registration software offers group registration. According to one study, group registration can get you 26% more paying attendees! This is because it drastically lowers the registration time for those in the same group, like for employees at the same company. Get more guests in record time.
- Protect financial data. Sometimes, people turn away from registration or payment because they don’t trust the online payment processor offered. This can happen when forms send users to a third-party website or page that looks off-brand. Ensure that your event registration software allows payments to happen right on your registration site. Further, automate post-transaction emails to inform the guest that their payment has gone through!
Your event registration software should prioritize ease of use and what your registrant’s needs could possibly be. Making it easier for your supporters to attend your event and donate is the best way to turn attendees into recurring donors. It establishes your organization as reputable and dependable, leading to stronger and more consistent donor relationships.
4. Figuring out how to improve for next time.
One of the best parts of investing in capable event registration software is the valuable event data it helps you keep track of. You can get a sense of how well your event did and point out any areas for improvement. It’s also great to have guest information accessible at your fingertips so that you can cater to any needs in an efficient and timely manner.
Consider investing in a comprehensive event registration software solution that stores your important data in the cloud. This way, you and your fundraising staff can refer to event data whenever they need it. With your event data in secure cloud servers, the information can also update in real-time. This means you can review event data and even see its progress during the event.
With your data in a safe and accessible place, you can further your event registration tool to get a better understanding of your event. Look into event registration software with dynamic filtering. This way, you can search through event data easily, even using multiple filters to examine conditions independently. Compare and contrast outcomes to understand your data more.
Your event registration software should also compile customizable reports for you. This gives you and your team a concrete document to refer to when analyzing your various processes and numbers. Customize the metrics that are most important to you and get a better sense of which areas need improvement.
Your best bet is to look at a comprehensive event registration software solution, one that can facilitate registration as well as to conduct your marketing strategy. Check out Regpack to learn more.
Event planning takes a lot of work, especially if you’re planning a fundraising event. You need to prioritize your guests and anticipate their needs, helping to develop a strong relationship that could lead to a donation. Make sure you review this guide before you start planning.
Asaf Darash, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.