April 25, 2011

Use live events to inspire volunteers & supporters

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It’s more important than ever to get face to face with your community

Guest post by Erik Mintz
Director of Event Marketing, Constant Contact

During a presentation last month at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., called Get Heard: Using Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors, I outlined four online communications tools that every fundraiser should take advantage of: event marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and online surveys.

Many of you will embark on the busy spring and summer event season and so, today, I’ll focus on event marketing. While I’ll concentrate on event marketing for the purpose of this post, I encourage you to view the presentation link above to learn more about the other online tools as well.

Why online event marketing? If you’re a nonprofit already using online marketing tools, you can likely answer that question with a few key phrases – look professional, save time and money, real-time results!

According to our research, online event marketing tools are increasingly popular with nonprofits, in large part because events remain a critical source for fundraising. Nonprofits are consistently more active with driving awareness through events, using more promotional tools, having more events with larger turnouts, and using more methods to manage registrations than B2B or B2C businesses.

Are live events the most powerful tool in your arsenal?

So, it’s time for the “wow” factor: A recent study by the International Experiential Marketing Association suggests that almost 60 percent of marketing professionals worldwide consider live events to be the single most powerful tool in their arsenal. While the world is going digital, it’s more important than ever to get face to face with your community. These online tools provide a great way to engage your donors, members and volunteers at all phases of an event’s life cycle.

We’ve learned that traditional event management tools have not kept pace with today’s digital environment and communications needs. What worked well in an era of ample staffing, volunteers and administrative budgets does not work in today’s environment. The economy, environmental concerns and diversity of communications channels has dictated a shift in the way we organize, manage and market events.

However, there is a lot of good news for nonprofits. In addition to the three “savings” – cost, time and paper – online event marketing tools automate a number of activities that can contribute to an event’s success:

  1. Promotion: More important than anything else, you have to get the word out about your event. There’s lots of synergy when using these online tools in concert with each other (nonprofit websites, event sites, partner sites, email newsletters, online surveys and social media destinations, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter). These channels greatly expand the awareness of your events and encourage attendance by igniting word of mouth, both online and offline.
  3. Capture: Without an online registration system, collecting attendee information, fees and donations is a time-consuming manual process. We hear time and time again that offering online registration with the ability to capture fees and donations electronically increases fundraising dramatically while reducing the workload, even for the smallest nonprofits.
  4. Tracking: These systems provide real-time reporting and a dashboard of your event activity. This includes RSVP tracking (who’s accepted, who’s declined and who has not responded), registrant count for things like venue capacity and food & beverage and payment transaction information as to who’s paid and not paid for your event. These are valuable and time-saving metrics about the success of your event.

If you’d like more tips on event marketing, check out 6 Ways to Get More People to Your Next Fundraising Event. The article presents six easy and cost-effective ways to increase event attendance, motivate volunteers and inspire donations at your next event using online resources.

Erik Mintz is the Director of Event Marketing for Constant Contact, the marketing adviser to more than 400,000 small businesses and organizations, including more than 100,000 nonprofits, associations and charitable organizations worldwide since 1998. Contact Erik at [email protected].
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