Using Online Tools to Streamline Fundraising Event Planning

by Joe Garecht

Online Fundraising Tools

Guest post by Kari Kiel

There are many factors you’ll want to analyze following any fundraising event in order to increase efficiency for future fundraisers and improve your success rate.  Obviously one indicator of success is based on the total amount of funds raised at the close of your fundraiser.  Another may be on overall event attendance, and yet another may be a summary of press coverage received as you were ramping up for the event.

However, there’s more to successful fundraising than just “results”… One very important indicator of success is found through evaluating the planning stage.  Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • How organized was the overall process?
  • Was your organization able to increase efficiencies? (meaning save time, money & resources while increasing awareness, donations, etc.)
  • What kind of feedback was received from participants, sponsors, volunteers and event attendees? Was their experience positive?
  • Were participants able to easily inform potential donors about the fundraising event and raise funds using the tools you provided?
  • How smooth were the day-of-event operations?

The more organized you are, the easier things will fall into place once event day comes along.  And if things run smoothly, you are likely to avoid any negative perceptions of your organizations and/or fundraising event.  This will encourage participants, sponsors, and volunteers to continue supporting your cause in years to come.

Streamline the Planning Process with Online Tools

Today there are many tools available to help administrators streamline the fundraising event planning process.  By utilizing online fundraising software, event planners have access to all event details in one centralized place.  Participants can register for the event online and then create a personalized fundraising webpage to help them spread awareness and easily collect online donations.  They can also track their personal progress against their goals and compare with other participants, instilling a sense of motivation.

With a back-end system in place, administrators are able to pull numerous reports such as: participant contact information, progress reports, sponsor benefit summaries, etc.  This can help organizers administer communications quickly and efficiently to the various parties involved.  If there is a change in event venue or an important news announcement, information can immediately be updated on the event fundraising website, and an email created and circulated verses trying to contact individual participants, sponsors and volunteers (as may have been the case in the past).

Smooth Day-of-Event Operations

Event planners may also utilize various reports in an effort to be more organized on event day.   Participant registration lists can be printed prior to the event.  These reports include a plethora of information including pre-purchased merchandise, team assignments, summary of funds raised (for prizes), gift bags, etc.  This type of reporting allows for easier event check-in.  As soon as participants give their name, volunteers have detailed information about the person, their fundraising accomplishments, items they have purchased, etc.

There are also event check-lists that serve as a guide from set-up through the close of the event to ensure nothing is forgotten.  If the event has sponsors, reporting tools can help planners identify sponsor benefits, and facilitate special acknowledgements to VIPs when they arrive.  Remember…often registration is the first impression participants, sponsors, donors and attendees will have.  This is a representation of your fundraiser and your organization, so you’ll want to do all you can to avoid bottle-necks and keep things running smoothly!

Easily Manage Ancillary Events (such as Charity Auction)

If a charity auction is part of your fundraising event, online auction software not only allows for easy tracking and management of the various auction items and bids, but can also help kick-start the bidding process.  With an online auction, people may place bids prior to the event date.  Planners may then easily print up auction bid sheets with last current bid amount stated.  This is a great way to encourage bidding to continue (as often people don’t like to be the first bidder).

An auction brochure can also easily be created simply by pulling together all of the information that has been entered on the item detail form on the online auction website (item descriptions, estimated value, bid reserves, donor info, etc.)  Your organization can choose to close the auction and finalize payments at the event or continue the bidding process online where payments are easily made via credit card using secure payment processors.  However you choose to integrate a charity auction as part of your fundraising event, online auction software can help administers manage the planning details, process payments, contact “winners”, and generate reports.

Summary

Whatever fundraising event you decide on—walk-a-thon, charity golf tournament, silent auction, gala event—there are plenty of tools available to assist organizers in their planning efforts.  Keep in mind, the more organized you are…the easier execution will be.  Not only that, but taking the time to put efficient processes into place NOW, will only make future fundraising events that much easier (and more successful) for your organization.

Kari Kiel, is a marketing consultant who currently leads marketing efforts for online fundraising software provider, DoJiggy LLC. Kari has more than twelve years experience developing and executing strategic event marketing plans. She has produced large-scale community fundraising events for nonprofits, and has consulted for various companies to help them extend their reach and improve results through integrating targeted online marketing campaigns.

Photo credit: zharth

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