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10 Questions To Ask Your Nonprofit Event Management Software

Posted in Spotlights on March 21, 2018

Events and galas can be huge revenue drivers for nonprofits. I know of one nonprofit that establishes its entire budget for the year based off of its one annual gala. However, galas and events are difficult to run on paper, so you need to find a powerful nonprofit event management software. Searching for a new software that fits your needs can be time-consuming, but necessary if you wish to hit fundraising goals. Here are 10 questions that you should be asking when reviewing an event management and registration software for your next event.

Questions To Ask:

1. How Are Fees Structured? Is There A Nonprofit Discount?

One of the most controversial parts of ticketing software seems to be the service charges. And frankly, it makes sense - the way most fees are presented are “gotchas”, which creates an awful customer experience. When reviewing your event software choices, look at how they present fees on their platform. Are they upfront, or are they included in the price of the ticket?

At the same time, you should be looking at how the site’s fees are structured. Most event websites are built to provide a service charge, and then there is a separate credit card processing charge. For example, a common pricing structure is 2.5% of the ticket price plus $1, and then there is normally a credit card charge of 3%.

Nonprofit discounts are normally included in the pricing section of any event site that you are on. While not necessary, if you are planning on absorbing the fee rather than passing it on, you could see significant savings. You will also probably find that any site willing to give you a nonprofit discount is more interested in your business and therefore more likely to have nonprofit centric features and more responsive customer service.

2. Do You Need To Have A Contract?

Most event management websites these days do not require contracts for you to use their services. However, if you wish to negotiate any sort of additional discount on top of their nonprofit fees, you will probably have to get locked into a contract. Make sure that fee pricing is part of the contract negotiations, as fees are generally where you should look to minimize. Also, if you do have to have a contract, require that there be customer service available on the day before, and on the day of the event to answer calls and attendee questions.

3. Will You Be Made Aware Of Fee Structure Changes?

Because the event software space is highly competitive, fee changes can abound. If you lock yourself into a contract (as above) then this is less of a worry. Nonprofits are price sensitive so even a single dollar increase in fees when you are planning on selling tickets can hurt your fundraising potential. Check the website’s terms of service to see if there will be any announcements made. You could try and negotiate to be “grandfathered” into the original fees (i.e. you still sell tickets with the old pricing that you started with).

4. How Do Email Invitations Work?

Email invitations are one of the most powerful tools available to nonprofits. With them, you can notify your lists of upcoming events, fundraisers, and milestones. You should check with the software you are using to see the different types of email invitations, and how they work. Consider sending out emails to a test list to find out if the invitations end up in the inbox, or in spam.

5. Can You Build A Client List?

Despite what the news and speculation might say, list building for emails and direct reach out are some of the most lucrative marketing channels out there. One of the easiest ways to build a client list is to gather information from attendees who have purchased tickets to your event. Normally, you will be able to get access to name (first and last), and email address.

More sophisticated systems give you the ability to see how many tickets a customer purchased. In addition, learn if you can ask questions to your attendees and how they will be recorded. For example, you could ask: “What causes interest you the most?” or “How did you find out about this event?” and get that information recorded alongside that attendee.

If you have been in the nonprofit space for a while, see if there is any functionality that allows you to upload previous client lists for email invites and RSVP notifications. Have an excel sheet or .csv on hand to test the platform out.

6. Can You Track Your Marketing?

Tracking ROI and interest is critical no matter your budget. Any event software you are looking into should offer analytics integrations. Two of the most popular and useful integrations are Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. Google Analytics helps you understand more about visitors to your event site and purchase behavior. Facebook Pixel can help you create audiences to market to based off of who visits your site and purchases tickets or RSVPs. The event software should also natively offer a way to track purchases, such as through a referral code system so that you know which marketing channels are the biggest drivers of traffic and purchases.

7. Can You Have Collaborators On The Event?

Having collaborators is essential for any nonprofit. You need different people for different roles, such as handling marketing acquisition, and another person to help write text on the event site and design it with graphics, and maybe another person to help set up tickets. With collaboration access, you can grant any committee or employee the ability to have oversight on the event.

8. Is There Donation Functionality?

This is a pretty open-and-closed case. Any nonprofit event management software should have an option for donations. There is a nonzero chance that there will be some people unable to attend the event but are still interested in supporting your cause. If any nonprofit management software lacks donation options, move on to the next one.

9. Is Their Site Secure? How Is Data Handled?

Given how many sites seem to be hacked these days, security comes at a premium. One important certification that any event website should be carrying is a Level 1 PCI Compliance. Having PCI Compliance means that sites transmit and process credit card data in a secure way. There is no reason for an event site to actually maintain a record of credit cards, and it is a high priority that all cards are processed safely. In most cases, this means that the event site does not ever see the credit card info.

There are some event software sites out there that sell customer and attendee data to marketing firms. Be sure to check that the only one handling your attendee data is you. You can generally find this information out through a demo and through their terms of service and privacy policy.

Finally, will the site be able to handle your traffic? Get numbers on percentage of “up-time”, and what their largest clients have been. The last thing you want is a site that goes down because it is unable to deal with the number of users when registration goes live.

10. How Robust Is Their Check-In?

When you’re expecting a lot of attendees, the last thing you want is a bad first impression. A positive check-in experience is essential for creating the mood that leads to a successful event. As you're looking through feature lists, find out if the event software you’re using has an organizer app that allows you to check in attendees at the door. If you’re planning on selling tickets at the door, inquire as to if they have a Point of Sale system either for purchase or for rent. Newer event organizers that are unsure of turnout should definitely consider selling entry at the door unless it is for an exclusive event such as a gala.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a nonprofit event management software, but I hope that these 10 questions will help you more accurately sift through your choices, and pick the correct option for your event. You can learn more about Ticketbud’s nonprofit event features at: https://ticketbud.com/verticals/non-profit-event-management

If you want to know how to start a nonprofit, start here.

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