Event management software for nonprofits & associations

by Andy Pearson in October 29th, 2018

This post will help you run events more effectively by explaining the types of software available and pointing you to the best event platforms.

We cover the following areas:

  • Ingredients of a well-run event
  • Pricing models
  • Event software embedded in CRM software
  • Stand-alone event software

Ingredients of a well-run event

Good event software will help you with the entire process of running an event. This is not just about taking payment during the booking process but also how the data you hold about people is used to further your broader organisation goals.

Publicity

Before anything else you need an interesting event idea and an attention-grabbing event listing that you can easily publicise. But you then need to get the word out and this requires easy access to your database. Ideally you want a single database that includes all previous event attendees and other contacts so that you can easily publicise your event to people who have already demonstrated active interest.

This is where good event management software can create a virtuous cycle. If data from an event is helpful fed back into your main organisation database then it will make it much easier to publicise future events. As we will discuss, this is one big advantage of all-in-one CRM tools for nonprofits and associations like White Fuse.

Event registration

To streamline your admin, your event management software needs to make it easy for people to book online. There are a few things that need to be considered here:

  • Capturing basic contact information that will be used again in the future like name, email, communication preferences.
  • Event-specific information like dietary requirements or seminar choices.
  • Acceptance of any terms or conditions that relate to attendance, such as marketing photography.

Ideally you will be able to customise the information you require from people for each ticket type at the point of event registration.

Pre-event communication

As the day approaches you need to keep tabs on who’s coming, keep them updated with any changes and prepare things like name badges or delegate packs. Your online event platform should offer the following attendance management tools:

  • Export lists of attendees.
  • Email all attendees.
  • Cancel or edit booking details.
  • Manually add bookings or assign free places

Attendance management

On the day of the event, you need to be able to record attendance and probably enter this data into your nonprofit CRM for future reference. If your event management software is part of your CRM this can make life a lot easier.

Following up

After the event, you will want to gain feedback from attendees to help make your next event better. For fundraising nonprofits you may want to integrate fundraising into the event or follow up. 

If your event booking software allows you to easily send emails or questionnaires following up well is much easier. Consider looking for the following features in your event management software:

  • Email event attendees.
  • Create follow up questionnaires that capture information directly against the attendee.
  • Integrated fundraising tools.

Learning and improvement

Analysing attendance, feedback and revenue can help you learn and improve. Look for software that offers easy-to-view reports for these things.


Pricing models

Unless you pay a one-off fee to have some custom-software built for you, event management software is usually paid for through a percentage commission on ticket sales, a flat monthly subscription fee or a combination of the two.

Commission pricing

If you only run free events and they are not central to your operation then commission pricing can be a great option because it will be free. This is one reason why EventBrite has become so popular. If you run paid events, high commission pricing found on this kind of event management software can quickly become a more expensive option and one of several factors that push nonprofits and associations to explore all-in-one CRMs and membership management software instead.

Monthly subscriptions

The alternative pricing model for event software is monthly subscription where you pay a fixed amount each month irrespective of how many events you run, how much you charge or how many people book.

This is a great option if you run lots of paid event that are an important part of your operation because it means you can budget your overheads more easily and it often works out cheaper.

Much software that helps with event registration is a hybrid of commission and monthly pricing.

Card processing fees

Whatever event booking software you choose you will likely pay card processing fees on event bookings of 1-2%. This fee goes to the card processor and not the maker of the event software and is a standard cost of offering online booking.


Different types of event management software

Unless you are considering creating some custom event management software by piecing together different systems like a website CMS with event booking plugins, there are two main types of event management software suitable for nonprofits and associations:

  • Event software embedded in CRM software
  • Stand-alone event management software


Event software embedded in CRM software

Choosing CRM software that has built-in event management tools is often the smart choice for nonprofits and associations that run paid events on a regular basis. The pricing model is usually a monthly subscription, commission on transactions is often low. More importantly, the data about attendees is stored in a much more powerful way. With the event registration process driven directly by your CRM all data about attendees is stored in the right place for you to review, analyse and act on.

Here are some great examples of CRM software that has powerful event management software as part of the package.

White Fuse

Focused on nonprofits and associations with a membership element but also provides powerful built-in tools for event management, email marketing, form building and fundraising. This will allow you to cross-reference a person’s event-based activity with other activities such as enquiries, volunteering or donations and build a richer picture of activity. You can email segments of people (eg. attendees of an upcoming event) from directly within the CRM software. This eliminates the need for separate emailing software and avoids the confusion that easily arises when you have slightly different lists of people in multiple software tools.

NationBuilder

Focused on community organising nonprofits, NationBuilder contains a wealth of tools to engage both before and after the event with a view to converting attendees into engaged supporters.

GlueUp

GlueUp started out as a company solely focused on event management so it has a comprehensive offering on that front. Over recent years it has broadened its offering significantly and rebranded as an all-in-one tool that allows the data generated through events to be used to strengthen the organisation's operations more broadly.


Stand-alone event management software

This option is often selected by small organisations getting started with their first few events. The software is often easy to use and free if you run free events. Costs increase steeply with usage so can be a less attractive option as you grow.

Here are some of the most popular options you can get started with today.

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is the most popular event registration software on this list but also one of the most expensive (around 6% on a £25 ticket on their basic package). It offers commission-based pricing so free events are free to run.

Although some CRMs can integrate with EventBrite to pull attendee information across it’s worth checking out the details of these carefully because they are often quite limited, for example in relation to email list opt-in.

TicketTailor

TicketTailor is an EventBrite alternative based in the UK that is used by a number of charities, nonprofits and other organisations we work with. The interface is clean and easy to use.

TicketTailor has a monthly subscription model starting at £19+VAT per month and charges no commission, though as always you have to cover the payment processing fees from their provider Stripe. Registered charities get a 20% discount. As demonstrated by the comparison tool on their website, in almost all situations an organisation will find TicketTailor cheaper than EventBrite.

EventHQ

EventHQ targets those who run conferences, training courses and workshops. Like TicketTailor, Event HQ is a UK based system. The system has a uniquely simple payment structure of £1.80 per completed booking, all-inclusive.

Eventzilla

Eventzilla also has commission based pricing but their default approach is to pass fees onto the people booking events. Fees are even higher than Eventbrite (around 12% on a £25 ticket). Although this increases simplicity for the event organiser, this kind of hidden-fee structure can easily annoy your audience.

Eventzilla offers a 25% discount to registered charities and nonprofits.

Regpack

Regpack pitches itself as a tool for registrations more broadly. So rather than a focus on events, it supports customers who need to accept registrations for courses, workshops, training, summer camps, etc. This focus is built on a high level of form customisation at the heart of the product.

Regpack has a monthly subscription model with pricing that starts at $89 per month plus 1.5% payment processing charge.