5 Things to Know Before Choosing Nonprofit Event Software

Last updated: 02-01-2020

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5 Things to Know Before Choosing Nonprofit Event Software

When it’s time for you to organize an event for your nonprofit, many different considerations will begin to roll through your mind. If it’s your first time, you may be wondering how to get started. If you’re an event planning guru, you’ll likely dive straight into considering unique ways to make this event better than last year’s. 

No matter how many events you’ve planned in the past, some of the more practical considerations to start with include the potential venue, possible themes, effective speakers, and informing the participants. When you dive deeper into this planning process, one of the most important considerations (which grounds the rest of them) is the type of software you choose. 

Choosing the right nonprofit event software will help your organization better plan for the event activities, market the opportunity to guests, and manage data effectively. 

Don’t just buy the first software solution you find. Instead, ask yourself some key questions before making an important investment. These questions include:

1. How will guests register for the event?

2. Who is your target audience?

3. How will you promote the event? 

4. What is your event budget?

5. What other fundraising activities will you incorporate?

Ready to make this year’s event the best one yet? Keep reading to learn more. 

While you’re conducting research about various types of event software, put yourself in your guests’ shoes to imagine which registration method will best appeal to your audience. 

How guests register for an event is highly dependent on the audience and type of event itself. For instance, you may need software that allows for:

• Online registration.Online pre-registration is a great way to get your supporters excited and committed to your event. Plus, it allows your nonprofit to get a headcount for potential space requirements or food orders. 

• On-site registration. If you will allow walk-ins to your event, as many fundraising events do, you’ll need a kiosk or method of collecting on-site registrations. If you choose to offer both on-site and online registration, look for event software that allows you to check-in pre-registrants and sign up new registrants at the same welcome kiosk. 

• Signature collection. If your event requires a waiver or signature of any type, look for an event registration software that easily makes signing a part of the registration process. Waivers help organizations better track who has yet to sign as they check-in. 

• Session registration. Nonprofits who host informative conferences and large events may benefit from looking into session registration technology. This software allows you to better plan the event so speakers’ times do not overlap. Plus, you can track how many attendees go to each session. 

• Badge printing. If you want to up your nonprofit’s registration game, you can print badges. Badges help make your event more secure. Plus, QR codes printed on the badges help your organization gather more information about your attendees. 

It’s helpful to find a single event software solution that offers all of these features that your nonprofit needs for your upcoming event. This prevents your organization from needing to invest in several, unconnected software solutions. 

Ahem…if you´re looking for said all-in-one solution head HERE!

When everything is available through one or two different yet integrated software solutions, you can easily collect the important data that you’re tracking about your various event attendees in order to transfer to your CRM. 

Depending on the type of event your nonprofit is hosting, you likely have particular target audiences you want to attend.

This is especially important to think about when it comes to the various planning and marketing options your nonprofit must analyze and decide upon to tailor the event to the needs of this audience. 

Before you begin planning your event, be sure to first establish the target audience you want to reach. 

Start by looking through your donor software at the various profiles and group segments that you’ve established. Which of these segments apply to your goals and target audience? Consider for instance, if your nonprofit’s goal is to:

• Steward major donor prospects. Check-in on the donor tracking feature of your CRM to see where certain donors are in the process of major giving. You may consider inviting supporters who are currently in the cultivation stage. Or for a larger event, you may invite everyone in the identification through giving stages. 

• Provide opportunities to members. If your nonprofit has a membership program, you may be hosting a special event that is targeted directly to those who pay membership fees. Use your donor software to generate an up-to-date list of members to invite. 

• Raise awareness in the community. Maybe your event is more open to the community, but you want to ensure you have a strong supporter presence there. Use location features or filters to be sure you invite locals to attend the event. 

When you know your target audience, you can start thinking about how you will best appeal to them through your software solutions. 

For instance, major prospects may appreciate a more high-tech check-in progress maybe with Facial Recognition, color badges printed instantly and QR codes paired with a personal handwritten invite. However, for a community-oriented event that is open to the public, you may opt for an easy online registration process and a less technical check-in. 

Considering your audience through each step of your event will help your nonprofit better reach your goals, whether that goal is to raise money, boost awareness, or steward supporters. 

When it comes to promoting your event, you’ll also need to conduct some audience analysis. You’ll need to consider the message and platform that are most likely to resonate with your supporters. Then, appeal to those supporters appropriately.

Email is the most commonly used communication tool between nonprofits and supporters. Check your email open rates and click-through rates to see which demographics and segments of supporters engage best with email communication. Then, craft a message toward those supporters. 

Of course, you can craft multiple emails to appeal to each segment of supporters you have in your donor database as well. But remember that you also have other platforms you can use to appeal to various groups of supporters. For instance:

• Post to social media. You can set up automatic posts to publish from all of your social media accounts at the same time with a fundraising CRM. You can learn more about this marketing automation for nonprofits with Salsa’s guide on the matter. 

• Add the event to calendars. Add your upcoming event to local calendars in the community as well as the event calendar on your website. With this method, you’ll reach active community members as well as those actively engaging on your website. 

• Start a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising can help bring people’s attention to your upcoming event while simultaneously raising money for the cause. Ask people to donate and register at the same time!

Before you dive into these great ideas, be sure to define which audience you’re targeting with each message. This will help you reach the broadest range of people. Consider the marketing functionality of your current software arsenal, then carefully select event software that offers the other promotion functionality that you really need. 

If you’re still looking for inspiration, here are  four great event examples and the techniques they used to draw in attendees.   

Before your nonprofit makes an investment in software, it’s important to first consider any budgetary restrictions you may have. 

First: We recommend listing out the various functions you want from your ideal software selection. This gives you a broad understanding of the types of things to look for. It also helps keep you from getting distracted by the attractive bells and whistles of solutions when they don’t have the core functionality you need. 

Next: Divide the items on your list into “needs” and “wants” columns. This will help you better understand what that core functionality is. Plus, if you do find yourself constrained by your budget, you may be able to choose a lighter weight solution that has all of your “needs” and most of your “wants” rather than considering them all completely necessary. 

Finally: Ask for demos of the software you take an interest in. Ask for a price quote during the demo. Be sure to confirm that the price you’re told also includes the cost of tax and any implementation fees. Remember that it’s usually less expensive to opt for one to two comprehensive solutions than to mix and match multiple to fit your needs. 

It is sorely tempting to invest in all of the greatest gadgets with the best tech trends. And while this tech can make your event stand out from the crowd, it’s also important to first recognize how much your organization values these latest trends. 

For instance, a conference a nonprofit holds about technology will likely hold these gadgets in higher regard than your local animal shelter’s fundraising auction. 

While there are various types of events that nonprofits may choose to host (and a variety of reasons to host each type), one of the most common events that nonprofits choose to host is a fundraising event. 

Fundraising events are specifically designed and planned with the intention of raising more money than it takes to plan the event. 

This usually means that there are a lot of fundraising opportunities before the event as well as during that provide engaging opportunities for supporters to give. Bonfire provides a comprehensive list of top fundraising ideas for nonprofits to use in their day-to-day campaigns or as a part of a larger fundraising event. Some of these incredible ideas include:

The great news is that you’re not limited to just one fundraising idea at events! 

Your nonprofit has the opportunity to get creative and incorporate as many of these winning fundraising activities as you’d like to most effectively raise money from your supporters. Plus, with software that incorporates gamification tools (Have you gone to boomset.com yet?!), your supporters will even find these fun. 

Plan out what types of fundraising activities you want to incorporate into your event. Then you can find software that will fill the needs of those activities in addition to the general event planning needs of your organization. 

There are many considerations your nonprofit must take into account before choosing an effective nonprofit event software solution that will fit all of your needs. Be sure to use this list as a checklist before you sign any contracts or make a final investment. 

Guest Author Bio: Dan Quirk is the Marketing Manager at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Dan’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization, and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices. If you’re looking specifically for event fundraising software, you can also check out the additional considerations listed out by Salsa in the guide linked here. 

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