Because nonprofit event participant registration doesn’t have to wait until the last minute
We’ve all been there. You send out invitations to your fundraising event weeks – sometimes even months – in advance.
Then, suddenly, just a few days before the registration deadline, you begin receiving a tidal wave of sign ups.
It is almost the day of the event, and you now have to restrategize based on all of the new registrations you received.
So, how can you avoid last minute registration and encourage fundraising event attendees to buy their tickets sooner? Let’s take a look at some ways to encourage prompt participant registration so that you can have more time to plan for your event.
The “triple-M” method for boosting prompt nonprofit event registration
When trying to increase early registration for your nonprofit event, remember the three ‘M’s: Motivate, market, and mention.
How do you drive people to take action? You need to give them incentives! That’s why the first ‘M’ stands for motivate.
Motivating your invitees to attend your event can take many forms. Depending on the event budget, you can provide different incentives for “early birds” for prompt registration. It helps that there is something to miss out on, but not something too big. You don’t want people to be so upset that they missed a deadline that they don’t come to the event. Some small incentives you could provide include:
- Price adjustments: Providing discounts for early registration might incentivize participants to sign up for your event long before the deadline. Try to designate a period of a few days to a week for participants to receive discounts for signing up early. On the other hand, you could increase the price of the event tickets closer to the deadline to sign up. This might create a sense of urgency that will lead participants to want to save money by signing up early.
- Exclusive perks: Give early registration participants access to unique incentives, such as a small gift, access to a meet-and-greet, or entry to an exclusive cocktail hour event – depending on what type of event you are hosting.
- Soft launch for return participants: If your event is a recurring one, you can do a soft launch for those who attended the event before. The sense of exclusivity might motivate previous attendees to get the event on the calendar (since they enjoyed it so much last time!).
The only way to recruit new attendees and encourage them to sign up for your event is to promote it. Thus, the second ‘M’ stands for market.
There are so many ways that you can promote your event, and thankfully many of them are free or low-cost. Here are some ideas of ways that you can market your next fundraising event:
- Social media: You will want to create a social media plan to market your event. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be too complicated! Just be sure to schedule dates to post before the event. Some ideas of content you can post are a first announcement for the event, a notification that tickets are on sale, and countdown posts in the days leading up to the event.
- Targeted advertising: Your nonprofit organization can spread the word about the next event to relevant audiences when they search and use social media. Google Ads, for example, offers a grant program for select nonprofits to advertise online.
- Posters: Imagine going to your favorite local sporting goods store and seeing a poster advertising a 5K walk/run fundraising event. Since you’re already in the mindset of working out, wouldn’t you be more inclined to check out the 5K? By hanging posters in local spots that would be relevant to your potential attendees, you might be able to expand your reach.
People often need friendly reminders when you are trying to get them to put an event on their calendar. And so, last but not least, the third ‘M’ stands for mention.
Mentioning your event via follow-up is a great way to remind potential attendees that they should complete their registration:
- Snail mail: They say letter writing is a lost art. With all of the digital communication available at our fingertips, sending letters by mail is a great way to stand out. Send reminders about your event via post in order to cut through the digital clutter. Your donors are sure to notice your event reminder when it shows up in their mailbox like a personal invitation!
- Phone calls: When in doubt, pick up the phone and start calling donors. By reaching out to potential event attendees over the phone, you can take a more personalized approach talking to them one-on-one. Further, you can answer any questions they may have about the event on the spot. Calling a large number of donors doesn’t have to be too intense, either. You can dedicate a day of your time to contacting everyone at once. If you allot two minutes per call on average, you can potentially reach up to 250 people.
- Emails: If you’re short on time and resources and need to reach out to several potential event attendees at once, sending emails might be the best way to go. One of the advantages of sending reminders via email is that you can provide a calendar link to your event, so attendees can see immediately whether or not the event will fit in their schedule.
What to do after the event
Once the event is over, you can get a head start on planning for the next by sending out post-event surveys. By literally asking the people what they want, you can get important insights that will help you learn as you go.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask attendees in your post-event survey:
- How did you hear about this event?
- How likely would you be to attend this event in the future?
- How helpful were the volunteers at the event?
- What is one thing we can improve on?
- What was your biggest takeaway or favorite experience at the event?
- How likely are you to recommend this event to a friend?
- How likely are you to become a recurring donor for our nonprofit?
Try to be open to receiving all kinds of feedback. Ultimately, the knowledge you will gain will enable you to plan more highly-attended events in the future – and that means more donations for your cause!
Want to know more ways to boost your fundraising potential?