When it comes to planning your next fundraising event, there are several factors that can influence your approach. These can include how well your past events have gone, how much money you have in your budget, and more.
If you’re looking for ways to make the most of your upcoming event, it’s a good idea to acknowledge the challenges that come with event planning and meet them head-on. For that reason, we’ve compiled 5 awesome ways to make the most of your next event, increase attendance, and maximize the funds you raise.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Your registration form
- Promoting your event
- Peer-to-peer fundraising
- Early incentives
Keeping these points in mind will help you stay on track during your planning process and meet any obstacles with ease. Are you ready to take a closer look at how you can make your next event a success? Let’s dive in!
1. Optimize your registration form.
Everyone’s first impression of your event will come from your registration process. Offering online registration for your fundraising event will make it easy not just for your attendees, but for your nonprofit, too.
Registering people online will allow you to quickly pull the attendance data and analyze it. This will help you keep track of the information you need and plan accordingly based on attendance.
Here are some tips for creating a registration form:
- Invest in the right software. Rather than using a simple Google form for registration, invest in a software solution that can offer reporting and other features.
- Make registration simple. Make sure the registration form only asks for what you need and doesn’t have too many extra fields. Too many fields to fill out could cause people to abandon the form.
- Avoid distractions. Don’t add too many distractions, such as donate buttons or volunteer application forms. If you can, try to keep these separate so that individuals remember what they came here to do: register for your event.
- Streamline the process.For guests who have registered online, check them in quickly and efficiently on a tablet at the event for easy processing.
- Optimize for mobile. Many individuals prefer to access forms on their mobile devices. Make sure your form is optimized for mobile to increase the chances they’ll register.
Finding the right event software is the key to giving off a great first impression of your event. If registrants have a positive experience with your registration process, they’ll expect the same from the event itself.
2. Promote your event.
In order to attract a lot of guests to your event, you need to promote it! After all, people won’t come if they don’t know about it. Using multiple channels to promote your event will ensure that the word gets out and that you meet your attendees on the platforms they’re using.
For instance, to promote your event, you can use:
- Social media. Determine what platforms you should promote your event on, based on the platforms your target audience is using. For instance, many generations use Facebook and this is a great platform to promote on (via event pages, business profile pages, etc.), while younger generations tend to use Instagram as well. Depending on your target audience, use the appropriate avenues to promote.
- Email marketing. Email marketing is still alive and well. Promote your event through email by reaching out to those in your nonprofit’s CRM. Be sure to personalize the message using mail merge tools, as this will make recipients likelier to respond and register for the event.
- Sponsorships. Reach out to local and large businesses to see if they would like to sponsor part (or all) of your event. This is a great way to boost your budget and get the word out about the event itself.
- Your website. Promote directly on your website as another great way to make the most of your event. You can also promote on your online fundraising site, such as your mobile bidding site for an auction event.
In addition to your promotional plan, it’s important to determine what your attendees want to see, such as expert guest speakers or local celebrities. There are a few reasons your previous events might not have resonated with guests, so be sure to solicit feedback from past attendees and/or your constituents to learn what interests them.
By taking advantage of multiple promotional channels, you’ll reach more people than you would have otherwise. Be sure to meet your audience where they are and make the information about your event readily available.
3. Incorporate peer-to-peer fundraising.
One of the most powerful fundraising methods is peer-to-peer fundraising. Through this social giving tool, you can expand your outreach beyond your typical fundraising circle. Essentially, during this type of fundraising, nonprofits recruit their supporters to fundraise on their behalf.
Here’s how it works:
- The nonprofit chooses a peer-to-peer fundraising platform and establishes its goal.
- The nonprofit sets up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign page.
- The nonprofit recruits its supporters to set up their own individual pages.
- The nonprofit provides tools and resources to support individual fundraisers.
- The individual fundraisers launch and share their pages with their friends and family.
- The nonprofit tracks the progress and provides ongoing support.
Simply put, you can reach more people by associating a familiar face with your organization and leveraging the power of social networks. If your individual fundraisers share what your nonprofit means to them, their friends and family will be likelier to donate to your cause.
Peer-to-peer fundraising works as a great lead-up to an event, especially events like walkathons, 5Ks, and Ambassador Fundraising campaigns. You can spread the word prior to the event itself while raising money before it even starts. Set the fundraising deadline on the day of the event to evoke a sense of urgency.
For more information on this powerful social fundraising method, check out the OneCause guide to peer-to-peer fundraising.
4. Offer early registration incentives.
Part of making your event successful means getting creative. If you want to increase attendance (and increase the funds you raise as a result), try offering early registration incentives. These can include things like basic discounts, but there’s more you can do with this.
Try out these early registration incentives to increase your overall attendance:
- Discounted tickets. If your guests register for the event within a certain timeframe, offer a discounted ticket price as a reward. This can be made even easier if you automate your process so that the ticket prices adjust automatically based on the time of registration.
- Merchandise. Give out swag bags to the first 20 or so event registrants. You can include custom merchandise like t-shirts and other items specific to your organization or event. This will be a great way to promote your nonprofit after the fact, too!
- Premium packages. You can also offer special incentives related to the event experience that registrants can select, such as VIP access, experience packages, enhanced food and beverage, and backstage tours.
People love freebies and discounts, so take advantage of the offerings you can provide and appeal to more guests. By incorporating swag bags, early bird discounts, and premium packages, you’ll increase your attendance and (hopefully!) your fundraising results as well.
5. Put together a team.
Of course, putting on a fundraising event requires planning and organization. To do all of this effectively, you need to put together a strong team that can successfully plan and execute the event.
Your team should consist of different team members (and even volunteers) who have particular skills they can put to work.
Consider the following strategies as you organize your planning team:
- Meet regularly. Make sure your planning committee meets regularly and at least a few months in advance of the event. This way, they won’t be scrambling to tie up loose ends in the days leading up to the event.
- Delegate tasks. It’s important to delegate tasks to certain individuals on the team. For instance, if you’re running a charity auction, make sure you have a procurement team in place to find appealing items that will raise the most bids. If you’re looking for ideas on what to procure, OneCause outlines several successful auction item ideas.
- Draw on people’s skills. Let’s say you have a really creative member on your planning committee. Have them design marketing materials or write the email templates that will go out. Then, call on your most organized team members to handle the invitations, book venues, and schedule any speakers or entertainment.
By ensuring your team knows their deadlines and stays on top of the planning elements, you’ll avoid any last-minute surprises and make your event the best it can be. Draw on different team members’ skills and capabilities in order to produce a great event that will have guests returning to support your nonprofit in the future.
Maximizing your online presence and having all the pieces in place will definitely help make your event a success. With online registration and promotion, you can reach out to far more attendees than you would have otherwise.
Try out these strategies for yourself and get started on planning that next great event!
Author: Joshua Meyer
Joshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the Director of Marketing for OneCause. Currently, as a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.