Fundraising events are opportunities for your nonprofit to not only earn donations, but to also build connections with supporters by hosting engaging activities related to your cause. Whether you’re hosting an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, your guests’ first impression of your event will be formed when they register.
Your registration process should be quick and user-friendly for guests, while also providing key information for your event planning team. Plus, a well optimized online registration process might even encourage guests to explore other aspects of your nonprofit’s website, such as your donation page and merchandise store.
To help your nonprofit start your events off right, this article will explore four key registration tips that will enable your nonprofit to host better events for your guests and staff:
- Create streamlined registration forms.
- Integrate your software solutions.
- Establish key metrics.
- Coordinate volunteers.
While a small number of guests may register upon arrival using paper forms, most of them will register online. As you read through these tips, consider your nonprofit’s registration and event management tools and how you can leverage them to better optimize your registration process. Let’s get started!
1. Create streamlined registration forms.
Your registration form is an opportunity to collect information about your guests, but it also needs to be short and easy to complete to avoid form abandonment. However, in addition to keeping your forms short, there are other best practices you can implement to create a streamlined registration process, including:
- Brand your forms. Ensure your registration form matches the rest of your nonprofit branding to recreate a more consistent registration experience, especially if your registration form navigates away from your website. This reassures guests that they are still interacting with your nonprofit and sharing their sensitive personal and financial information with a trusted organization.
- Use conditional logic. Sometimes your forms will need to be longer in order to ask every necessary question for your event. In these cases, consider using forms with conditional logic. Conditional logic uses your guests’ previous answers to determine which questions they will see next, creating a quicker, more personalized registration process. For example, you might ask guests if they have any dietary restrictions. Those who say no can move on to the next question, while those who answer yes will be prompted to provide more information.
- Offer multiple payment options. In addition to keeping forms to a single page, adding flexible payment options helps create a more convenient experience. Regpack’s guide to accepting payments online specifically advises nonprofits to use a payment process that can accept credit cards, debit cards, reward cards, and ACH checks.
The rest of your website should also work to push visitors towards your event registration form. Consider creating an event landing page that contains all of the key information about your event, paired with a call-to-action that points guests towards your registration form.
2. Integrate your software solutions.
Events often require multiple software solutions to keep track of your guests, facilitate event activities, and encourage participation. This is especially true for virtual events, which will need live-streaming and conferencing software in addition to your event registration software.
By integrating your software, your nonprofit’s team will have an easier time managing every aspect of your event from one unified system, reducing time spent transferring and re-entering data. Here are a few platforms you should ensure will work together at your event:
- Donor database. The information collected from your registration forms and event software should flow into your donor database. This allows you to take note of which supporters signed up for events, and make note of it for future interactions, such as email outreach for your next event.
- Gamification tools. You can improve your event’s fundraising potential by using gamification tools to encourage donations. These include tools such as leaderboards and fundraising thermometers that help guests visualize your fundraising total while also driving competitive spirit to give more.
- Event specific-software. Some events, such as auctions, have unique software needs and require features that standard event management platforms may not have. For these events, either look for a comprehensive event software solution or tools specific to your event-type that will integrate with the rest of your techstack.
Additionally, be sure that information from your registration forms also flows smoothly into your main event platform. This way, your team can stay updated on key information about your guests, such as the total number of attendees, if any major donors are attending, and if they need to be aware of any health and safety concerns, such as food allergies.
3. Establish key metrics.
In order to know if your event was successful, your nonprofit should determine key event goals and metrics ahead of time. By doing so, you’ll be able to focus on key data points that are relevant to your nonprofit’s overall engagement and fundraising objectives.
The metrics your nonprofit chooses will likely vary based on your specific objectives, but a few common event metrics that most nonprofits can benefit from tracking are:
- Marketing engagement rates. As part of your pre-event planning process, take note of your digital marketing efforts’ success rates. For instance, online marketing engagement rates include email open rates (the number of people who open one of your emails), clickthrough rates (the number of people who click a link in your email to your website), and landing page traffic (which pages receive the most traffic from external links). This information will tell you how guests are discovering your event and what marketing materials are persuading them to register.
- Guest retention. During your registration process, take note not only of just how many total guests are attending, but how many of them also attended your last event. This will tell you your guest retention rate, and maintaining a high retention rate shows that your nonprofit is hosting engaging events and potentially even building a community.
- Conversions. In some cases, having guests sign up for and participate in your event may be your nonprofit’s end goal. However, in other cases, your nonprofit might aim to use your events to encourage attendees to take an interest in your cause and pursue additional actions after the event. In these instances, you’ll want to track your post-event conversion rates to see if you were ultimately successful in steering guests towards donating, volunteering, or completing any other actions.
Your registration and event software solutions will help you collect data for many of these key data points. Ensure your software has reporting and filtering capabilities so you can easily create reports analyzing the key data trends you need to make data-driven decisions for your next event.
4. Coordinate volunteers.
To make the most of your event, you’ll need to recruit volunteers with the right skill sets and staff them in the right positions. Your registration data will provide key information for how many guests you can expect, allowing you to gather and train the right number of volunteers to keep your event running smoothly.
An online registration process will make initial check-in a faster, more convenient process for both your volunteers and your guests. Encourage guests to complete their registration online ahead of time so your volunteers will just need to search your registration database to confirm their ticket. At the start of your event, consider staffing more volunteers at check-in to reduce wait times, then move them to other parts of your event that need assistance after the majority of your guests arrive.
Ensure that you also use your event or volunteer management software to take note of which volunteers are working at your event. This will help you record their hours, which may be necessary for some volunteers and allow you to help eligible volunteers apply for a volunteer grant.
Double the Donation’s guide to corporate volunteer grants explains that volunteer grants are donations made by your volunteers’ employers after working a certain number of hours for your nonprofit. While different employers require different forms to complete the grant application process, nearly all of them require your volunteers to submit an accurate hour total.
A well-organized event registration process can set the rest of your event up for success. By creating streamlined registration forms and integrating your software, your nonprofit will be positioned to collect data on key metrics and coordinate your event planning team. Doing so will allow your team to stay organized and plan even better events in the future.