It’s All In The Tools

The following blog post is by Shana Masterson and Jonathan Cass.

Shana has been working in event fundraising for national health nonprofits for the past ten years. She is currently the National Associate Director for Interactive Fundraising and Engagement with the American Diabetes Association. Find her on Twitter: @npshana

Jonathan has been working in the nonprofit sector for the past ten years but has been a lover of all things tech (aka geek) his entire life. He currents works at Animal Humane Society in Minnesota’s Twin Cities as the e-Communications Manager. Find him on Twitter: @jcassAHS

Are you taking full advantage of the event software available to you? Do you think that only large nonprofits can do innovative things because they can afford to hire an outside vendor?

Our presentation yesterday at the Convio Summit showed attendees that do-it-yourself set up isn’t all hocus-pocus. Even the smallest nonprofits can achieve event fundraising success at little to no cost, just by using some readily available tools. We’ll outline a few of them here, but you can also check out the full presentation on slideshare.

Getting to the next step

Registration fee discounts – As a society, we are getting accustomed to coupons and online promotions. It can sometimes be the push we all need to take action. Offer a registration fee discount and promote it heavily in all of your communications – email, social, phone, etc.

Example: Use discounts at the beginning of your event cycle. The longer constituents are in your pipeline, the more opportunity you will have to message them about fundraising.

Thank you page and autoresponders – Don’t overlook the importance of these powerful tools. A thank you page can have default confirmation text or it can be optimized with graphics and text to push participants to visit the Participant Center. Autoresponders can acknowledge the online action taken, while also providing instructions on what they should do as a result.

Example: In the autoresponder to notify a  team captain of a new team member, point them to their Participant Center email to send a Welcome message (that you’ve provided as a pre-written template, of course!) to their newest addition.

Motivate action

Communications calendar – Plan most of your email, website and social media communications in advance, you will thank yourself later! This will help to reinforce your overall goals and priorities; and taking a planned approach tends to be much more strategic than trying to come up with things from week to week. Not sure how to get started? Take a look at this complete event fundraising communications calendar.

Achievement badges – Foursquare, Get Glue and now you! It’s time for event fundraisers to get on the online badge happy train. Convio TeamRaiser clients may know they can already award badges to participants for their fundraising achievements, but with a little clever coding your participants can also earn badges for taking those steps that will help them raise more money – joining a team, sending emails, registering before a certain date and so much more. Badges provide you a free way to motivate your participants and keep them engaged in your event. Conivo clients interested in advanced badges can grab instructions, code and links to photoshop and illustrator templates.

Personalization – In an era of Amazon, Netflix, Facebook (and the list could go on and on) it’s no longer enough for us to have “Dear FIRST NAME” be our only form personalization. We need to go beyond the greeting and personalize the content of our websites and emails. Walk/Run systems like Convio’s TeamRaiser give us a great amount of information and insight into our event participants. These systems also give us the tools (conditionals and s-tags) to use this information to provide our participants the personal experience they deserve, without adding a ton of extra work for our events staff.

Example: On your event website, list the premiums people can earn for reaching different fundraising levels. Using conditionals, test to see if they’ve already earned enough to qualify for each premium – let them know they earned that bandana and t-shirt and how much they have left to raise to get that awesome sweatshirt.

Social tools – We know word of mouth is the best way to get the word out about your event so let’s make it as easy as possible for your supporters to share. Services like and give you the code you need to easily add buttons to share on facebook, google+, twitter (and many, many more).

Want to take it a step further? Bring the conversation directly to your event’s personal pages. Embed the Facebook comments plugin to allow people to comment on your participants’ personal pages – those comments will both show up on their personal page AND the Facebook stream of the person who made the comment – interaction and sharing – all in one!

How do they…

Finally, we would encourage fellow Convio clients to scope out what your peers are up to for their events. If you see an idea that looks interesting but not quite sure if you’d know how to set it up for yourself, post a question in the Convio Community. There are many bright minds there available to help you out.