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[GUEST POST] Nonprofit Event Registration: 7 Tips to Maximize Efficiency

When your nonprofit hosts an event, it’s a whole-team effort. Everyone on your nonprofit’s staff, from your fundraisers to your marketers and development team, are involved in the project. Your events are an important part of your fundraising season as well as an opportunity to meet your donors face to face and get to know them better.

In order to have these opportunities, however, you have to get your supporters in the door! And that requires a top-notch event marketing and registration strategy. Reminding your donors of how much fun they had at your last event, or demonstrating to new supporters that your events can’t be missed, is the focus of your strategy.

Then, once you’ve convinced them that they have to be at your event, you need to provide them with a quick and easy way to secure their place. Your registration process should be as efficient as possible, so that your supporters don’t lose steam and forget to register.

Make your registration process as smooth as possible with these 7 easy tips:

  1. Focus on online registrations.
  2. Optimize your registration forms.
  3. Follow up on a timeline before the event.
  4. Use a multi-pronged marketing campaign.
  5. Do a trial run of registration and check-in.
  6. Offer two lines at your entrance.
  7. Get past attendees involved.

While every nonprofit’s event planning and marketing strategies are different, we can all benefit from some best practices that make our nonprofit’s online presence better and make our events run more smoothly.

If you’re ready to learn more about these tactics and how you can use them to make your fundraising event registration process better, let’s dive in!

1. Focus on online registrations.

The number one way to make your event registration process more efficient is to do as much of it online as possible. When you prioritize online registrations, your donors can fill out their registration form at their leisure, and the data that they provide will flow automatically into your CRM or donor database.

Instead of organizing forms and paperwork, all of the information that you need will be stored within the software that you use. Allergies, seating preferences, and any documentation necessary will all be logged automatically as people register.

Plus, when your registration form includes a payment processor, your organization can increase streams of revenue before the event and never worry about a check getting lost in the mail. Of course, not everyone is going to want to register online ahead of time, but by offering it as the primary option, you can save hours of your time on the day of the event.

The most important things to keep in mind when focusing your marketing efforts on online registrations are:

  • Optimize your registration page for mobile devices so supporters can sign up from anywhere.
  • Offer technical support in case something goes wrong.
  • Integrate your software so that your online registrations are tagged in your CRM as well as your event planning and management software, email manager, or marketing software.

Once you’ve committed to prioritizing online registrations (while still offering your other options!), it’s time to get the word out and make your strategy as effective as possible.

If you need help choosing the right peer-to-peer fundraising platform for this project, check out Qgiv’s list of top providers.

2. Optimize your registration form.

Just deciding to offer online registrations isn’t enough! Some of your supporters might not appreciate the change from your old offerings. Others might not be comfortable filling out forms online. In order to make your online registration form as attractive as possible to your supporters, apply some best practices to the form.

  1. Make sure your form is mobile-optimized. If donors want to access your registration form and donation page through their mobile devices and can’t, you might miss out on a valuable participant!
  2. Brand the form to your website and organization. Your supporters want to know that their information is being seen by only your nonprofit, and keeping them on your nonprofit’s website is a good way to demonstrate transparency.
  3. Use a high-quality image at the top to remind people what the event is about. Providing visual interest on your form makes it look friendlier and less boring. It also creates an emotional connection between your supporter and the cause.
  4. Limit the number of fields on your form. Your supporters will want to register for your event quickly and easily, and there’s nothing worse than a lengthy online form. Streamline your digital event registration form to help reduce abandonment and increase submission rates.

Having an engaging, secure, and convenient registration form will go a long way toward encouraging your supporters to register online and keep your event’s momentum going.

Learn how to make your registration form and website the best they can be with this guide to the best nonprofit websites from Double the Donation.

3. Follow up on a timeline before the event.

After your supporters have begun to register for your event, it’s important to stay in contact with them to remind them of any additional forms or waivers they need to submit, secondary payments, or extras that they could receive, like a discounted ticket for a friend or free merchandise.

Plus, following up with your registrants keeps your event in the front of their minds, so that they’re not shocked when the day comes and they’ve forgotten about it somehow.

To maintain the connection between your registrants and the events, try some of the following schedules:

  • Emailing your confirmed registrants a month, two weeks, and three days before your event to remind them about payments, waivers, meal requests, or anything else that your event entails.
  • Creating a drip campaign to reach out to supporters who have attended events in the past but aren’t signed up for this event, encouraging them to register.
  • If your nonprofit shares text updates, text your supporters who haven’t completed their registration forms to remind them to finish the process.

Follow-up ensures that supporters don’t slip through the cracks, and that your registrants are as stoked as you are on the day of the event.

4. Use a multi-pronged marketing campaign.

Drawing as much attention to your registration forms, online or elsewhere, as possible is important for making sure that you’re not swamped with panicked phone calls on the day of the event because supporters forgot to register or submit something.

By spreading your marketing efforts across multiple arms of the Internet as well as through traditional methods, you can make sure that your community can’t possibly miss your event.

Some easy ways to diversify your marketing outreach efforts are to inform supporters via:  

  • Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Email campaigns through your preferred mass email software.
  • Direct mail campaigns to your more traditional supporters.
  • Phone calls for supporters who don’t use social media or don’t like direct mail.

Let the fundraising trends of 2019 guide how you decide to reach out to your supporters. When you offer a plethora of different marketing approaches, you’ll be able to make connections with supporters through their preferred communication avenue. If you only use one, you risk missing out.

5. Do a trial run of your event registration and check-in process.

Let’s move away from the pre-event efficiency preparations and talk about how you can make your event run more smoothly on the day of. Don’t just hope for the best on the day of your event: prepare for it by practicing it!

For both your online registration form and in-person check-in process, do a trial run with your volunteers and staff to make sure that there will be no surprises when it’s time to do it for real.

Some strategies for making this as practical as possible are:

  • Ask a third party to try to use your registration form. Watch them without offering commentary, and observe where they get stuck or confused.
  • Teach your volunteers and staff how to use the check-in software ahead of time, so that they can do it blindfolded.
  • Brainstorm a list of questions and answers to help team members with troubleshooting on the day of the event and come up with solutions to anticipated issues.

Practicing how your event will work before the event itself is a great way to ensure that things will move efficiency and instill confidence in your event staff that they can handle anything that comes up.

6. Offer two lines at your event entrance.

While offering an online registration form may have taken a lot of the strain out of keeping track of event attendees, you’ll always have individuals who didn’t hear about the event until too soon or didn’t want to commit ahead of time.

In order to accommodate these individuals in a way that reduces inconvenience for everyone, offer two lines for entry into your event. One line will be for people who registered online. They can walk up to your staff or volunteer, say their name, and be checked in.

Those who weren’t able to register ahead of time can go to the other entrance, where they will be assisted in registering and checking in by a team member equipped with the information and software that they need to get all set up.

This way, those who registered ahead of time don’t have to wait in a line with people registering on the spot, and individuals registering at the event won’t get flustered by impatient folks behind them.

It’s a win-win that encourages as many people as possible to attend!

7. Get past attendees involved.

One of the best ways to ensure efficiency during this season’s events is to talk to those who experienced last season’s events! Reach out to the attendees of your previous events to get their perspective on how your strategies worked before.

Ask them questions like:

  • How does this year’s event registration form compare to last year’s?
  • What was the most difficult part of last year’s process? Has it been improved?
  • What don’t you like about this year’s registration process?

Consider incentivizing these supporters to answer your survey questions with gifts like discounted or free admission to your event for their trouble! Learning from your old habits in order to improve is a stellar strategy across the board. Plus, asking for their advice makes your supporters feel your appreciation and improves your donor retention rate.

Your event registration is an important facet to get right: it creates your attendees’ first impression of your nonprofit and the event!

Make the process as efficient as possible with these 7 tips and watch the registrations flow in. You’re sure to have the most effective fundraising event possible if you prioritize getting people in the door. 

Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

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