5 Tech-Savvy Fundraising Strategies for Your Next Event

One of the most tried and true fundraising strategies for most nonprofits is events.

But are you getting the most out of your events? After all, the people who attend are your most important supporters. These people give you their time – something they’ll never get back.

So how do you get more people excited to attend your events without being pushy? And how do you boost donations during your event with technology?

Here are 5 ways to incorporate technology into your next fundraising event:

  1. Get organized with event management software.
  2. Implement mobile bidding and donating.
  3. Invest in matching gift software.
  4. Set up a donation kiosk.
  5. Make your event virtual-friendly.

Ready to bolster your donations with these tech-focused fundraising strategies? Let’s go!

1. Get organized with event management software.

Take a step back. Look at your event from a bird’s eye view.

How many different elements do you have to keep track of at once? From the venue to the registration and guest list to the donation channels, how can you be sure you’re not letting anything slip through the cracks?

By implementing the right event management software, you never have to worry about missing a detail ever again, no matter what kind of event you’re planning.

There are many different event management software providers that offer many different features and services, but there are some features to look for no matter what kind of event you’re hosting:

  • Registration and ticketing: Keep track of your guest list and ticket levels as your event fills up.
  • Marketing: The best way to make sure your marketing efforts are on schedule and earning the right level of engagement is to integrate them into your event management software.
  • Payment processing: Whether this feature is built into the software or the software provider has partnered with a well-known payment processor like Paypal, you’ll need some way to accept ticket payments and donations.
  • Surveys: Collect some information about your guests as they register. Don’t forget about post-event feedback surveys, too.

You should also consider the platform your event management software solution is built on. If you already use Salesforce, for instance, then implementing an event management tool native to Salesforce would make things easier for you later on.

The Takeaway: Event management software streamlines the efforts you already undertake when planning an event, alleviating stress and organizing your process.

2. Implement mobile bidding and donating

As time-tested as paper bid sheets can be, the world of mobile bidding can bring so much to your event.

Consider how helpful these common mobile bidding software features would be at your next charity auction — and if you like what you see, read more in OneCause’s guide to charity auction software:

  • Keep a record of your auction items, categorize them, and group them together to create higher-value packages.
  • Integrate donor data from your CRM to autofill auction participant profiles and run analysis after the auction is over.
  • Allow guests to set automated bids for a maximum amount on the items they don’t want to miss.
  • Automatically send text messages to guests who’ve been outbid or who have bid on items that are about to close.
  • Display a live auction scoreboard or thermometer to stimulate friendly competition and encourage all your guests.

These features can save you a lot of time and open up opportunities for your charity auction. But possibly the most important feature you could find in a mobile bidding software is personalized thank-you messages.

You’re going to send out confirmation messages anyway to guests who placed the highest bids. Take the opportunity for donor stewardship and include a sincere thank you.

The Takeaway: Mobile bidding software can make your charity auction more efficient and engaging to your guests.

3. Invest in matching gift software.

Unlike mobile bidding software, you can incorporate matching gift software into your event no matter what kind of event you’re hosting.

The most basic matching gift software works in three steps:

  1. Donors submit a donation to a nonprofit via the online donation form.
  2. Donors use matching gift software to search a database for their employers’ names.
  3. If donors see their employer on the list, they can read information about restrictions and deadlines, then fill out and submit their matching gift request to their company.

More advanced software fully automates this process, reaching out to donors based on their company email address or known employment history, then guiding them through the matching gift process.

The benefit of matching gift software? Only about 10% of eligible donors match their donations every year, according to Double the Donation, and the biggest impediment is lack of awareness.

Matching gift software makes it easy for donors to find out about their employer’s corporate giving program and submit a matching gift request as they’re making a donation (or right before or after).

Working matching gift software into your events is easy and profitable. You can:

  • Include matching gift information in your marketing materials sent out before and after your event.
  • Use the stage and microphone at the front of a gala or auction to remind your guests verbally about matching gifts.
  • Provide tablets outfitted with matching gift software for your donors to search for their employer’s name right there at your event.

Plus, if you’re always updating and segmenting your donor data, you can use matching gift software to identify donors who work for companies that offer matching gift programs. Then you can target your matching gift marketing specifically to them as your fundraising event approaches.

The Takeaway: To capture matching gift revenue you might have missed out on otherwise, invest in matching gift software and place it front and center at your event.

4. Set up a donation kiosk

No matter what kind of event you’re putting on, you should never offer just one way to donate. One of the easiest things you can do to that end is set up a donation kiosk at your event and let it do all the work.

Donors simply swipe their credit cards on the electronic donation kiosk to donate a preset amount or to choose an amount from the screen.

Here’s how you can incorporate a donation kiosk into a few popular fundraising events:

  • Charity run, walk, or cycle: Set up your donation kiosk at the registration table where runners pick up their numbers.
  • Charity gala: Place your donation kiosk on the bar so your guests see it while they wait for their drinks to be poured.
  • Car wash: Position your donation kiosk on a table beside the bench where drivers sit while their cars are being washed.

Electronic donation kiosks are truly the jack-of-all-fundraising event tool. It doesn’t matter what you’re hosting — if you’re getting your supporters together in person, they’ll run into your kiosk if you set it up in a common place!

The Takeaway: Electronic donation kiosks are great for offering your donors another way to support you while they’re already at your fundraising event.

5. Make your event virtual-friendly

The internet makes it possible for us to know (and care!) about what’s happening on the other side of the world.

Chances are, many of your supporters won’t be able to attend your event. But they can be there online!

Through tools and planning, you can open up your event and your donation collection to everyone who wants to participate, no matter where they are:

  • Stream your event. The simplest way for absent supporters to feel a part of the action is to bring the action to them — via video streaming. Start with Facebook Live, since it’s free and almost everyone has access to a Facebook account, or find a service that’s  more comprehensive if you need more features.
  • Show online donations live. Check out some of those mobile bidding tools from earlier on, or employ an online donation tool that also features a live fundraising thermometer. Software can allow everyone around the world to donate and see how their donations contribute to the overall fundraising goal.
  • Encourage call-ins. Depending on the kind of fundraising event you’re planning, you might be able to accept calls or even video chats from your supporters outside the room. Those supporters can contribute to the atmosphere of the event, and your attendees get to see how far the reach of your cause extends.

When planning a virtual-friendly event, be sure to troubleshoot your technology well before the day arrives. The last thing you want for your supporters is a blank screen or an error message.

The Takeaway: By planning a virtual-friendly event, you ensure that all of your supporters can donate even if they can’t make it to your event.

Technology allows you to expand your events and the ways you collect donations at them. Take advantage of these five tech-centric fundraising strategies to see the effect on your donations!

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John Haydon