How to Improve Your Nonprofit Fundraising Events Using Data

Nonprofit fundraising events are an effective tool for engaging donors, raising funds, and highlighting your organization’s work. In the same way that data can optimize your entire fundraising funnel, data can also help you plan a better fundraising event. 

Data can help you at every level of organizing and managing an event. This article will teach you how to use data to optimize your next fundraising event:

  • Planning your event using data
  • Running your event using data
  • Reflecting and reporting on your event using data

How to Plan Your Fundraising Event Using Data

Leading up to a fundraising event, you can find several ways to harness data to help you get organized.

1. Use An Event Analytics Tool

Right from the beginning, you should decide which analytics software you will manage your event with. Analytics software can help you organize attendees, manage registration, track donations, and more. 

Here are some tools to consider: 

  • Attendease: This platform allows you to manage registration, event marketing, and track event analytics with an all-in-one solution. Also, Attendease can work for virtual, hybrid, and in-person meetings and events. 
  • Grassroots Unwired: Designed with fundraisers in mind, Unwired helps you manage event day logistics, online canvassing, and even face-to-face fundraising campaigns.
  • Eventbrite: You’ve probably heard of it before, but Eventbrite has built-in analytics tools that allow you to sell tickets and see trends for each of your events.

It’s important to choose a tool at the outset of event planning so you can track your data in the same place right from the beginning, and your team can familiarize themselves with the tool before the event. 

Check out the tools listed above and see what’s best for your organization!

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2. Set Benchmarks For Success

Next, think about what metrics you want to measure and set benchmarks to track how well you’re progressing towards your goals. 

You can use previously collected data to help you set ambitious but realistic fundraising goals. For example, if you’ve hosted similar events, you can look at past revenue, attendee, and engagement data to help you craft accurate targets. 

Not sure which benchmarks to measure? You can get started by setting targets for these metrics: 

  • Total Revenue: The total amount of money raised through the event.
  • Total Profit: The difference between the revenue earned and the cost of the event.
  • Registration Rate: Of the individuals you invited, the percentage who registered for the event.
  • Attendance Rate: Of the individuals who registered, the percentage who actually attended the event.

3. Create a Guestlist

Whether you’re hosting a gala for fifty people or a fun run for thousands, it’s important to invite the right contacts to maximize participation. Using your stakeholder data to curate the right guest list will help you maximize your turnout. 

Creating a guest list is really about segmenting your contact list so that your most engaged supporters receive personalized communications about the event. 

Filter your donor database to find current donors and prospects that would be a good fit for your next event. Pay close attention to contacts who’ve attended events before and are interested in the impact area of your next event. You can also filter through prospects based on their capacity to give, so you can ask them to donate within their means. 

These indicators will help you to curate the perfect guest!

4. Set Dates and Deadlines

Staying organized is crucial when planning an event!

Make sure to assign deadlines to tasks and create a shared calendar for your team so you’re all on the same page. 

You can also use data to help you determine the best dates and times for promoting the event. When did you get the most registrations for last year’s event? Use this date as a target for pushing advertising for this year’s registration. 

If your team already uses project management software, make sure you keep track of all your deadlines there. If not, try Asana or Trello when planning your next event. Both platforms offer nonprofit discounts!

How Data Helps You Manage Your Fundraising Events

Let’s consider the execution phase of your event. You can use data to ensure you’re making the most of your efforts from when registration opens to the day of the event itself.

1. Set Up Event Registration

Asking participants to register before an event allows fundraisers to track progress towards their goals and drive awareness. Registration data is crucial to collect, and the easiest way to do so is by asking participants to register online. This method will also centralize your registration data. 

Typically, attendance ranges from 50-65% of the number of people registered for virtual events and around 50% for free in-person events. Keeping these statistics in mind, you can estimate your attendance rate by tracking registrants.

Registration is also an opportunity to get to know your participants. While you don’t want to make the registration process too long, causing registrants to drop off, you can ask some valuable questions that may help you in the future.

For example, asking for registrants’ email addresses gives you a touchpoint to send them more information before the event. Additionally, asking where they heard about the event will help you understand your most effective marketing techniques. All of this data will also come in handy for future events and appeals. 

Last, don’t forget to ask your registrants what their preferred contact method (email, mail, text messages, etc.) is when they register. By collecting this information, you can always feel confident you’re reaching out in the right way.

2. Develop Segmented Communications

You’ll also need to sort out your communication content. It can be helpful to segment communication to registrants, so they receive the content most useful to them.

Segment your contacts with this FREE template

Use this template to segment your contacts and donors based on their levels of engagement.

For example, if a registrant has been to the event in the past, you may want to send them different content than if it’s their first time. Additionally, If you’re receiving different levels of involvement from participants, you may want to send unique content to suit their particular roles. 

Can you see how having more information on participants can be better? This is why collecting registrant data is so important!

3. Monitor Your Marketing Efforts

You’ll want to make an advertising push in the weeks leading up to the event. However, don’t just “set it and forget it” when it comes to event marketing. 

Most online advertising tools such as Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram allow you to track the success of your ads through engagement statistics. Keep an eye on these statistics, and don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy as you go. If a specific ad is performing particularly well, put more of your marketing budget behind it! 

Another tip for social media marketing is to make sure your content is shareable and create incentives for raising awareness and sharing the fundraising page, such as a contest. This strategy will help you reach new audiences.

How To Report On Your Fundraising Event

After a successful fundraising event, it’s so tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and not think about it again until you start preparing for it next year. But, you must resist that urge! 

Remember those benchmarks and goals you set? It’s time to return to those and see how well you did in comparison to your targets. 

Spending some time to reflect and report on the event’s success (or shortcomings) will help you do even better next year. The future you will thank you!

1. Collect Different Types Of Event Data

You can learn a lot from the event data you collect. But, to fully understand how successful your event was, you should design and send out a post-event survey. 

Sending out a survey along with your thank you message is a great way to learn about what worked and didn’t work for your attendees. Typeform is a great survey tool that’s easy to use and offers a nonprofit discount. 

You can also survey registrants who didn’t show up to the event. While you may not have gotten them to attend, you can still learn a lot from them by asking questions like, “Why didn’t you attend?” and “Are you interested in hearing about other events?” 

Sending non-attendees a survey can even help build a better outreach strategy for next year.

2. Critically Analyze Your Data

Making sense of your data is critical to improving future events but can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re supposed to look at. 

Start by returning to the benchmarks you set and see how well you progressed towards your goals. Then, you can take a look at the data behind those results to understand where you performed well and where you have room to improve. 

You can understand the significance of your data by comparing the results to your benchmarks, last year’s event results, or results from similar events. This level of analysis helps provide context to your success and gives more meaning to the data. 

For example, if you were looking to reach a specific fundraising target but fell short, you could look at the average donation from each participant and ask yourself a few questions: 

  • Was it more or less than you expected? 
  • How does this compare to previous years? 
  • Did you raise enough per person but didn’t have as many participants as you wanted? 

Ultimately, your event data should serve as a tool that can help you improve your events over time.

3. Maintain Follow-up Communications

The last thing you should do before putting this event (and yourself!) to rest after all your hard work is to create a follow-up engagement strategy for the rest of the year. 

This strategy could be as simple as a drip-email campaign with a few messages throughout the year reminding participants of all the fun they had at your event or even a mail-out around Christmas thanking folks for their support this year. 

An engagement strategy helps you stay top of mind for participants throughout the year, and they may be more willing to re-engage when you start the cycle all over again next year.

Evaluate Your Fundraising Performance with this Dashboard

Use this FREE Fundraising Analysis Dashboard to assess your nonprofit’s campaign performance and identify growth opportunities.

Once you start using data to plan, execute, and report on your nonprofit fundraising event, you’ll start making more informed decisions and maximizing your event. 

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