Special Events Software: Saving Time and Effort for Fundraising Events
Special events fundraising is an integral part of many organizations' fundraising strategies. If donors really wanted to, they could probably find a gala, dinner, race or any other number of events to attend on any given day of the week.
As fundraisers, you know what goes in to planning an event, but it's easy to overlook how time-consuming certain aspects of actually executing a special event can be. After all, those name tags won't magically appear out of thin air, and those invitations won't mail themselves. It can be difficult to assess just how much time the nitty-gritty work of putting on an event can take, which can in turn cause headaches in preparation and on the day of the event itself.
Events software can help alleviate some of those issues and take the stress off the plate of fundraisers and event managers.
Take, for instance, MassEcon, Massachusetts' private sector partner in promoting the state as the premier choice of business growth. MassEcon has several major events a year for its members, including one with more than 400 attendees, which puts a lot of strain on its employees and volunteers.
"Staff would be here all hours of the night stuffing name tags, issues around table assignments and the like before a major event," says Executive Director Susan Houston. "It was a logistical nightmare."
Luckily for Houston, one of the staff members at MassEcon had worked with events suite provider Attend.com at an event she attended and thought the software was worth a try for the organization.
Attend.com's platform automates and optimizes a lot of the pain points MassEcon was seeing. For example, Attend.com handles:
- automated check-in at the event
- automated marketing to put out via email
- easy enroll options for events
- online payments
- registration forms
- name-tag printing on location
- databases integration
- payment gateways integration
- analytics reporting
"The most important thing is by automating these processes, it helps organizations engage with donors, prospective donors, members, alumni, etc.," says Matt Engel, CEO of Attend.com. "It also allows for surveying after an event to capture additional information, providing the ability to close the loop on any leads and put that information back into the database."
This type of platform manages event planning, event execution and event follow-up.
"It is really helpful in streamlining a process that can be full of pitfalls," Houston says.
For instance, event software can set up codes for invites and segment the invitation list — i.e., an alumni event for the business school as opposed to the university as whole. It also can easily print name tags and verify spelling on the day of the event, as well as provide up-to-date information on attendees to deepen personal interactions — always a key to fundraising.
Then it allows for follow-up by providing robust analytics and data on the event and event attendees — who signed up, who showed up, where the folks came from, etc. And then that information can be used for surveys and thank-yous, while also providing insights on whom to invite and not to future events.
Houston and MassEcon Marketing Communications Coordinator Annie O'Connell provide these keys when assessing events software:
- Make sure it's user-friendly.
- Make sure it's flexible — allowing on-the-fly printing and analytics.
- Make sure it has an export feature to keep data organized and eliminate manual input.
- Make sure the provider has responsive staff to help with any issues — something Houston says is key with Attend.com, very customer-focused.