For an association, hosting events like conferences, networking meetups, and learning sessions is an effective way to bring people who share a common goal or passion together. Plus, events are one of the ways that your association can raise non-dues revenue.
There’s a lot riding on your association’s next event, so how can you get the most out of it?
Every event-planning team struggles with this question. At Snowball Fundraising, we develop fundraising and event tools for nonprofit organizations, so we’ve seen firsthand how important it is to develop and fine-tune the right strategies when events have very specific goals.
For associations, both attracting new members and engaging current members are probably constant goals across most, if not all, of the events they host. With the right tools and strategies on your side, you can build out an approach to event planning that will always support these goals of recruitment and engagement.
Plus, the right software will dramatically simplify the planning and management process in general, ensuring that the occasion itself will go off without a hitch.
Here are 5 tips to help you maximize your impact and make sure your event is the event of the year:
Planning an event for your association involves many factors like managing attendees as well as figuring out the best registration method. However, with the right software, mindset, and this guide, your event will generate more value and member engagement for your association.
When planning your association’s event, you should think about how you’re managing your association in general. In this day and age, you are probably using an association management software to help you keep track of your members, financial receipts, and your events all in one place.
If you haven’t made the transition to professional-grade management and planning software, making the move is probably a good idea. Check out the Fonteva guide to association management software for an idea of what to look for.
Here are some things that the right association management software can do for your event:
With the right tech infrastructure in place, it’s time to start thinking about how to best use your events to engage and reach members.
Hosting an event can introduce your association to new members while also showing current members that you continue to be a valuable part of their professional lives.
Being a member of an association can be very rewarding, but members can easily fall drop out from year to year. Why might someone decide to not renew their membership?
So, how can we combat this and keep current members more deeply engaged? With events.
Going forward, a huge portion of the new members you will be targeting will belong to the millenial or generation Z crowd. Updating your recruitment strategies and how they fit into your events will be key :
Figuring out how to increase membership is always tricky, but if you apply this knowledge your event could be fully booked before you know it!
We’ve talked about how software can help organize events, but there are some specific features you should look out for to make sure that your event registration process is seamless, too:
The main idea here is to think about your users’ experience as they register for your events. If it’s tedious or complicated, you’ll unintentionally drive away some potential attendees or give them a bad impression of your association.
One of the best things about hosting an event is that you can use it to improve your future events. This is where analyzing your registration and engagement data comes in. With the ability to see how you are doing in a broad scope you will know how to improve for the future.
Big-picture information you should be tracking includes:
Your association invests a lot of time and money on your in-person event. Your speakers spend time creating engaging and educational presentations. But what about the people who can’t attend your in-person event? Or when you have multiple sessions at the same time and your attendees can’t be in two places at once?
Here are some ideas that can help you expand the reach of your educational sessions (and increase non-dues revenue while you’re at it):
With any of these ideas (as well as others) you can get creative with pricing — offering free or discounted on-demand access for conference attendees, providing different registrations tiers that can include on-demand access, selling sponsorships, and more.
With the ability to look back and pinpoint highs and lows, every event you have will be better than the last!
Now that you’ve gone through this guide, you can start planning your association’s event. Make sure to choose reliable management software, and good luck!
About the Author
John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations.
Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.