We understand that planning, promoting and executing events can be extremely manual and challenging to be completed within a timely manner. We often have people coming to us looking for answers to their questions about how to get people registered for events, ways to avoid long lines at event check-in tables and even about how to measure the ROI of an event after it has taken place.
Our President & CEO, Ian Hayes, was recently interviewed about these questions and more by our friends at TheConnectedCause.com, an online community of nonprofit experts sharing their perspective and offering guidance to the nonprofit industry. Read our answers below and find out how Causeview can help you make your next event a success.
Understanding Your Nonprofit's Event
The Connected Cause: By design, events are supposed to be memorable. How do you make sure an event supports a full campaign strategy and isn’t just a standalone experience?
Ian Hayes: Creating memorable event experiences begins right from the registration process and continues with the impressions your guests leave with.
TCC: We agree. You want to wow your attendees from start to finish and everywhere in between.
What variables should every organization consider when they first start planning an event?
IH: With every event, there needs to be clear revenue and engagement strategies that align with campaign goals. It is equally important to manage all event touch points according to your budget so that nothing gets in the way of delivery come event day.
TCC: That is very true. No one likes those kinds of surprises. Speaking of, what do organizers often forget to plan for?
IH: The variables that organizers underestimate are those that change during the event. These can include changing seating, dietary restrictions and many more.
TCC: Again, great points! People plan every detail and anticipate the event to go off without a hitch, but in reality, there is still a lot of work left to do.
Using Event Management Tools
TCC: Do event management tools simplify the actual day to day organizing of an event, or are they designed to capture information for later analysis?
IH: The process required in keeping everybody informed, up-to-date, and delivering their commitments can be extremely manual and labor intensive.
An event management tool that brings CRM functionality and relationship management together into one, cloud-based platform satisfies all of an event’s touch points.
We created Causeview Events to serve as a portal that everybody can become involved with through a hands-on approach, including guests. The beauty of it lies within the ability to execute check-ins, log contact information, send email notifications, generate reports and alerts all in real-time.
TCC: Yes, planning events can be a very challenging and manual process. So can getting the word out about an event. What are some more effective ways to let people know?
IH: Creating excitement about an event can effectively drive its attendance. It is important to create drip marketing and event campaigns that can be accessed online to generate excitement. These campaigns can be designed to send out personalized messages to constituents based on their relationship with your organization.
TCC: After you work hard, get people registered, get them excited to spread the word, finally, the day is here. It is time for your event, but there always seems to be a big line at the entrance to any event, and no one seems to know what’s going on to get things moving. What can an organization do to get people in and participating faster?
IH: We recommend an instant registration process that is made possible through mobile event management, so there is never a line at the door. The power of an event application is realized when attendees are able to walk into the event and become checked in, within seconds. Causeview Events focuses on eliminating both the frustration associated with the registration process and the need for a hard copy registry of attendees.
TCC: That does sound frustration-free, plus we tend to lose track of our paper invites prior to events. While most organizations usually do a great job at getting people to attend, when it’s all over and they’ve made these great new connections and relationships, things can fall apart. What are some tools and best practices for keeping up interest and momentum after the event?
IH: It is important to tailor follow-up communication based on each attendee’s relationship with the hosting organization. An attendee could have a strong relationship with your organization, but their accompanying guests could have no prior knowledge about your organization.
With a mobile event application that is synchronized with a CRM, identifying and tracking these relationships is possible. Those who have a history of involvement with your organization should receive an email thanking them for their continuous support and sharing the momentum built up from the hosted event.
For net new attendees, there is no prior data stored in the CRM representing their involvement. The message directed to these attendees has to thank them for their attendance, encourage them to learn more about your organization, and demonstrate the opportunity to contribute (through volunteering, donating, pledging, etc...). Once these attendees engage with your organization, you can delve deeper and build a rapport with them.
TCC: Great idea to segment your audience after the event and tailor the message your attendees receive to make it more personalized. So, what about from the attendees’ perspective? From websites, to ticketing, to check-in, and finally the actual event, attendees are asked to work through an entire process with no idea of how it’s supposed to work. Are there tools that consider the event experience from the attendee perspective and make it easier and smoother for them?
IH: From the perspective of the attendee, the registration process needs to be simple.
Through a mobile event application, attendees can be sent an email that not only informs them about the hosted event but also guides them through registration. Upon registering, a follow-up email should be automatically sent, outlining all of the event information that the attendee needs including a QR code or similar that can be scanned instantly at the door.
Attendees can walk into the event, provide their contact information or QR code, and be checked in within seconds. We streamlined the registration process to start off the event on an encouraging note for everybody using Causeview Events.
TCC: What can an organization do after the event to nurture new relationships and gain more exposure for their cause?
IH: Keeping track of transactions made during your event opens a door for donor analysis and relationship building. By tracking specific transactions right down to the attendee, your organization will be able to see who paid for the registration and all the associated contributions made at the event.
Somebody who does spend money at your event, but doesn’t donate, becomes a real candidate to build a relationship with. Even though they may not have an affinity for your cause currently, their contributions at the event serve as an opportunity to reach out and initiate communication. If they respond, it is important to encourage more interaction with your organization.
TCC: You make a great point. Just because someone does not donate to your cause at the event doesn’t rule out future donations. What would you say are the most useful and quantifiable metrics to determine an event’s success and provide information for future planning?
IH: Every organization should consider whether they achieved their revenue goals, stayed within their budget and satisfied projected attendance levels when gauging the success of their event.
An event’s success is not only determined by generating revenue however, it is also about generating affinity. The end goal is to generate enough resources, both dollars and peoples’ time to support the cause of your organization.
It is also important to consider the percentage of new contacts from the event that expanded their relationship with the organization. This provides a scope of the attendees that requested more information, asked about ways to contribute and expressed the likelihood to attend future events.
TCC: Thanks for the tips on determining a successful event. Are there any other event metrics that are often overlooked, and deserve more attention? What are indicators of success that might not be as obvious?
IH: Of the net new attendees at an event, organizations should consider the percentage that went deeper with their affinity via donations, volunteer hours and associated contributions.
Identifying the propensity of event attendees to build and enhance relationships with your organization is a key indicator of success that can drive fact-based decision making.
TCC: Thanks for taking the time to answer all of our questions and giving us such great tips, Ian!