Using technology for fundraising events

publication date: Oct 15, 2012
 | 
author/source: Erika Racicot
Even though special events revenues don't make up a large percentage of overall donations for charities, the role of these events in an organization's development strategy is critical. Special events can raise funds, cultivate relationships with donors and reach out to new, relevant prospects such as young professionals in the first stages of relationship building with your cause.

Events have rightly been considered as complex creatures which require not only precise co-ordination but countless management and administration hours. From planning the format of the event itself to sourcing venues, branding, promotion, sponsorship, ticket sales, attendee tracking and donor relations, they are not for the faint-hearted. 

Fortunately, new technology offers you not only the ability to market to a wide and previously untapped audience, but the ability to manage the majority of events from the relative serenity of your own computer. 

Social marketing 

Due to the ease and cost-effectiveness of social media, nonprofits have used it for their marketing efforts almost since its inception. With the obvious advantages of potential instant global reach and the ability to engage directly with followers as well as gauge public opinion and attitude first-hand, it is undoubtedly a valuable resource. 

Social media can also dramatically enhance the marketing of events. With existing followers able to instantly share and actively promote events to their own networks, an inspired core audience can generate an exponential amount of interest. 

There is also the ability to create content within the event itself to prompt social media sharing and engagement. Its content will depend greatly on the tone and subject of the event, but with the public's ability to capture the fascinating and/or spectacular with a mobile phone and instantly share, the opportunities for marketing don't stop at the opening speech. 

These activities combined with blogging, video blogging, podcasting and posting on message boards can create a huge amount of interest, often with little outlay of resources, both human and monetary. 

Web-based event platforms 

Web-based platforms offering specific tools to help organisations optimize fundraising efforts, have become a very popular alternative to traditional methods. They can cover a wide range of tasks leading to significant reductions in staff hours and cost. There are several to choose from, all offering variations of services and costs. 

Eventbrite is an online service that people can use to create, share, and join any event, whether it's a photography class with a local artist or a sold-out concert in a city stadium. Eventbrite enables event creation, promotion and ticket sales. It helps people discover events that match their passions and lets everyone share the events they're creating or joining. 

Pricing 

2.5% plus $0.99 per ticket plus one of four options.
  • Standard Credit Card Processing Fee: 3% of ticket value; 
  • Paypal: 2.9% of ticket value +$0.30 per transaction; 
  • Google Checkout: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction; or 
  • Authorize.net: varies. 
Frendo is an online service providing multiple tools for nonprofits, including a comprehensive ticketing system and payment widget. It offers a 0% transaction fee on EFT/ACH transfers (bank to bank) for all online payments using Frendo's payment engine.  

Pricing 

Tickets up to $20 have a $1 administration fee plus one of the payment options below. Tickets over $20 have a $2 administration fee plus one of the payment options below.
  • 0% on EFT/ACH transfers (bank to bank); or 
  • 2.95% on credit card transactions.
Charity Happenings is an online service provider offering a free ticketing solution exclusively for nonprofits, associations, schools and general fundraisers looking to sell tickets online. 

Pricing 

3% of ticketing value plus $0.99 per ticket sold plus 
  • Paypal: 2.9% of ticket value +$0.30 per transaction; 
  • Google Checkout: 2.9% of ticket value + $0.30 per transaction; or 
  • Authorize.net:varies 
The personal interaction with existing and potential donors during a fundraising event can be invaluable. When technology can be used to creatively market the event, streamline the administration processes and provide a positive user experience, organizations can expect higher engagement and higher profits. 

Erika Racicot (@ErikaRacicot) is co-founder and COO of Frendo.com, an online nonprofit services provider. She coordinates the efforts of the Frendo team to develop systems that help nonprofit organizations optimize their fundraising efforts.    


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