As most nonprofits already know, as worthwhile as they are, successful fundraising events can be expensive and time-consuming endeavors.
There are so many logistics to plan out. From ticketing and registration to finding the perfect event space and more, organizations have a lot on their plates.
And that doesn’t even account for the actual fundraising!
Luckily, fundraising software is here to help.
It was designed to streamline all fundraising efforts, including event planning, and make them a little easier for organizations facing the all-too-common problem of limited time and resources.
Here are 12 ways that fundraising software can help your organization with your next event:
- Choose the right event.
- Create event workflows.
- Identify corporate sponsors.
- Invite the right people.
- Simplify sending invites.
- Take online registrations & volunteer sign-ups.
- Manage your guest list with ease.
- Request donations from those who can’t attend.
- Sell merchandise.
- Enable mobile giving during the event.
- Complement your event with a peer-to-peer campaign.
- Automate receipts and thank you letters.
With software on your side, you can spend less time worrying about logistics and more time showing guests the time of their lives!
1. Choose the right event.
The first question that any organization will encounter when planning an event is: what type of event should we host?
Obviously, when choosing the type of event, you should take your organization’s cause, goals, and resources into account.
However, considering they’ll be the ones attending, you should also think about the particular interests and affinities of your supporter base.
While fundraising software might not be able to help your organization with its soul-searching, it can help you get a good look into your donors’ preferences.
A robust nonprofit CRM will allow you to build detailed donor profiles, with data such as:
- Contact information.
- Biographical information and demographics.
- Familial, household, professional, and other bidirectional constituent relationships.
- Donation and volunteer history.
- Past event attendance.
- And more!
The most flexible CRMs should also allow you to customize your donor profiles so you can include fields, notes, and other reminders of important donor interactions.
As you begin the early stages of your event planning, first turn to your CRM.
Analyzing your donor profiles should help you zero in on the perfect event for your supporters.
If it’s something they’re interested in, they’re more likely to attend!
Takeaway: Your nonprofit CRM will give you valuable insights into your supporters, so you’ll know which type of event is best catered to their interests.
2. Create event workflows.
With so many different tasks and logistics to keep track of, it can be difficult to organize staff and volunteers and make sure everything gets done.
It’s especially easy to overlook something or repeat a task if there isn’t a centralized system in place to keep everyone on track.
Not only is this a huge waste of time and money, but in the worst cases it can also jeopardize the success of your event.
Fundraising software solves this problem by offering nonprofits that centralized system.
With your software, your organization can create detailed workflows to plan out every step of the planning process.
You can assign individual volunteers and staff members to different tasks, and automate reminders for these tasks throughout the event planning process.
Software gives everyone access to the same data, so everyone on your event team will always be on the same page.
Individuals will know exactly what’s expected of them, while your organization’s management staff can easily oversee the collective effort.
Takeaway: Use workflows to keep your team on track and pull off your event without a hitch.
3. Identify corporate sponsors.
Your organization should think about enlisting the help of corporate sponsors, especially if you’re putting on a large-scale event that needs a lot of publicity.
Your sponsors will help you advertise the event and split some of the costs, so they’re an incredibly valuable ally for nonprofits.
You’re probably wondering: But how do I find them?
If your organization doesn’t already have relationships with sponsors, it might be possible to leverage some of your supporters’ corporate relationships.
The best way learn about these relationships is to integrate a matching gift service with your nonprofit CRM.
When your supporters enter their employer information to see if they offer matching gift programs, this information will automatically be recorded in your donor profiles.
Then, you can analyze your profiles to see what corporate connections your donors already have.
Because you’ll already have a mutual connection to these companies, they’ll be a good place to start seeking out sponsorships!
Get in touch with donors who work for companies that offer matching gifts, and let them know how they can submit these gifts.
Takeaway: Get ahead of the game on securing corporate sponsorships by integrating your CRM with a matching gift platform.
4. Invite the right people.
While it could be the case that you want to invite your entire supporter base to your event, oftentimes your organization will have a narrower guest list in mind.
Fundraising software can really come in handy for the times that you need to cater your event to a specific group.
For example, say you were hosting an exclusive auction event only for your members.
With your nonprofit CRM, you could segment your list to split out just members and target only this group with auction-related information.
That way, you can keep members up-to-date without running the risk of inadvertently annoying supporters to whom this information doesn’t apply.
Most CRMs also support integrations with communication platforms (more on those below), so you can craft and send correspondence right from your software.
Takeaway: Segmenting your list with software makes it easier to target the right people and always keep your event communications relevant.
5. Simplify sending invites.
On that note, with a nonprofit CRM that has event planning and communication capabilities, the process of sending out invites is a whole lot easier, too.
No matter how you choose to send out your invites— whether it be by email or by good old-fashioned snail mail—software has features in place to help.
Let’s delve briefly into what fundraising software can do to make each less of a hassle.
If your software also has an email marketing integration, you can take your list segmentation a step further and target your invitees with email campaigns.
Your CRM will automatically fill in fields from your donor profiles for you, so you can personalize your emails without having to go through and manually insert everyone’s name and information.
Then, once you’ve crafted the perfect email, you can send it out to your whole guest list in one fell swoop.
You can even create drip campaigns giving supporters updates about the event that will be automatically triggered when attendees sign up.
- Direct Mail:
Although direct mail is waning in overall popularity, sending event invitations is one instance that really calls for hand delivery.
Especially if you’re hosting a big, fancy event like an auction or a gala, sending out physical invitations will make donors feel special and adds a nice touch.
With your CRM’s direct mail features you can compose invitations right in the platform and autofill recipient information to personalize them.
Then, you can merge your invitees’ addresses to print mailing labels in bulk.
Takeaway: With its automated features, a powerful nonprofit CRM makes sending out invitations, online and off, quick and efficient.
6. Take online registrations and volunteer sign-ups.
Attendees and volunteers will be the two most pivotal groups when it comes to the success of your event.
Make sure they participate by making sign-up easy!
A complicated sign-up form will only act as an obstacle. You want sign-up to be as convenient as possible so that people will take the steps needed to attend or volunteer.
One of the best ways to do this is by providing online volunteer sign-up and event registration forms.
For this one, you’ll need the help of online donation software. Although typically used to help nonprofits build online donation pages, these platforms come with form-building tools that can come in handy in many scenarios.
You can create customized sign-up and registration forms branded to your event, then seamlessly incorporate them into your website.
With the ability to add unlimited custom fields, you can request only the information your organization needs to reduce the amount of time supporters will spend filling out your forms.
Sign-up will be so easy that attendees and volunteers alike won’t be able to resist!
Need more ways to incentivize supporters to become volunteers? Check out our article on how to recruit more volunteers.
Takeaway: Online registration made easy by online donation software is sure to encourage more participation in your event.
7. Manage your guest list with ease.
Integrating your CRM with your online donation software will make it easy to manage your guest list.
With this integration, your organization will no longer have to spend the time manually inserting attendee information into your CRM or another event management platform.
Once supporters have registered to attend your event online, their reservation will automatically be entered into your CRM so you can track RSVPs.
You’ll still have to manually record data for attendees who register offline, but this feature reduces a lot of the hassle of compiling your guest list.
When it’s time for the event, you can check attendees in at the door with a comprehensive list on your side.
You’ll never accidentally forget a reservation again!
Takeaway: A CRM/online donation software integration is the perfect team to make managing your guest list a breeze.
8. Accept donations from those who can’t attend.
Online donation forms are still useful in this case, too!
With online donation software’s form builder tool, you can create a custom donation page branded to your event.
That way, donors who were invited but aren’t able to attend can still support your organization with their contributions.
An online donation page will also give attendees the option to donate more.
Oftentimes when attendees sign up, they’ll want to give more than the entry fee, so don’t miss out!
Takeaway: An online donation page allows everyone to give, whether they’re present at your event or not.
9. Sell merchandise.
Selling merchandise at your next event is an excellent way to raise more funds and get people excited to attend.
The only problem is, selling merchandise is yet another logistic that requires a lot of planning to execute.
Seeing as it’s a dispensable effort, many organizations will opt not to offer merchandise at their events, even though it could bring in significantly more money.
With fundraising software, selling merchandise is much more manageable.
The form-building capabilities of your online donation software should allow you to create online merchandise storefronts so people can buy before the event.
If you’ve integrated with your CRM, your supporters’ purchases will link up with your guest list. It’s easy to keep track of who bought what and make sure everyone receives their items at the event.
Takeaway: Online donation software makes selling merchandise less of a hassle, so you can complement any event with mementos your supporters will love!
10. Enable mobile giving.
Once it’s time for the event, most of your planning will be over.
However, your organization will, of course, still want to provide attendees with the best event experience out there!
That means freeing up your attendees’ time as much as possible, so they can spend less time waiting in line and more time enjoying themselves.
With a mobile giving platform, such as a text-to-give tool like atpay, attendees will never again have to wait in line to make a donation at your event.
Instead, they can give wherever they are by simply texting a donation amount to your nonprofit’s number.
Then, with most platforms, supporters will be redirected to a simplified, mobile-responsive online donation form.
When it’s convenient, your donors will be more likely to contribute.
Throughout the event, you can update supporters on how their contributions are helping you meet your goals with a fundraising thermometer.
With robust mobile giving software, your thermometer will update in real time as donors submit their donations.
Being able to easily visualize their progress should motivate more donors to give, because they’ll be able to see exactly how their contributions are helping!
For more about mobile, read how to market your event through mobile.
Bonus tip: Another way to make the whole payment process smoother is by using your CRM to preauthorize attendee credit cards. This tool is especially helpful for auctions and similar events where people need to make additional purchases at the event site.
Takeaway: A mobile giving platform makes donating at events much more convenient for your attendees, so they’ll be more likely to give.
11. Complement your event with a peer-to-peer campaign.
If your organization wants to raise even more funds, you should consider running a peer-to-peer fundraiser in conjunction with your event.
For those of you who haven’t tried them yet, P2P campaigns mobilize your donors to fundraise on your organization’s behalf by requesting donations from their peers.
They’re an excellent way to expand your supporter base and increase your fundraising results, since you’ll have a whole team of allies on your side, actively fundraising for you.
Although it might seem difficult at first to organize a large base of fundraisers, with the right peer-to-peer software, it’s not.
With a P2P platform, fundraisers can build personalized or team donation pages.
These pages are branded to your organization and link up to your online donation software, making it easy to process donations and oversee fundraisers’ efforts.
P2P software also has social sharing capabilities so supporters can request donations from their friends on social media.
Peer-to peer campaigns and events make a great team, because events can incentivize fundraisers and are a great opportunity to highlight their accomplishments.
Takeaway: Run a peer-to-peer campaign alongside your fundraising event to grow your network and your donations. P2P software makes it much easier to run two efforts simultaneously.
Need some tips on how to execute a successful P2P social campaign? Read several best practices from Salsa.
12. Automate receipts and thank you letters.
Once your event is over, it’s important to follow up with your attendees and acknowledge their contributions.
To acknowledge your supporters properly, you’ll need to send them both a thank you and a donation receipt.
Thank yous are important because making your donors feel appreciated is a crucial part of the stewardship process.
Receipts are not just important, but they’re also often necessary.
Especially if you’re hosting a large event, it can be difficult to make sure you’ve followed up with all of your donors.
Online donation and mobile giving software can help, because they automate sending out receipts and thank yous every time a supporter gives.
Although you should still follow up with a more personalized thank you, at the very least no one’s contribution will go unacknowledged.
Takeaway: Fundraising software ensures that your organization will never fail to acknowledge your donors’ generous contributions.
Overall, fundraising software makes planning and executing fundraising events a much simpler process for nonprofit organizations.
Software can streamline many of your event planning by centralizing your efforts.
It’s also easier to collect donor data, because all sources are tracked in one place.
That way, you’ll get deeper insights into your donors, so your next event will be even more informed and successful!