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Our Favorite Online Event Marketing Tips

Section: Blog

Online marketing has changed the event landscape. There are countless articles about how to market your event online, but most tips are generic and can’t be actioned. EventMB shares these event marketing tips — all actionable tasks designed to grow your guest list. Not all relate to nonprofit events, but here are several that do:

  • Promote your Speakers: Create images that combine event branding with your speaker’s name and photo. Send these images (in multiple sizes) to your speakers for use in their own social media posts or websites. Also create a quote image featuring their face and one of their best quotes, along with your event hashtag.
  • Create an Awesome Video: Make the video fun, rather than overly promotional. The goal here is to garner attention, to make people FEEL something that will pique interest. Upload the video directly to Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube to maximize reach.
  • Reach out to Influencers – Correctly: Quality over quantity. Send personalized requests to 20 best-fit influencers. Provide content relevant to their audience. If you want them to post a tweet, send a few unique, pre-written options. The less work they have to do, the better.
  • Run a Contest to Drum up Buzz: Encourage potential attendees to share a picture or comment on a status for a chance to win a prize. Or invite attendees to vote on a small event detail such as dinner theme by commenting on a status. Offer free tickets, VIP experiences, or anything else you imagine. Just remember the better the prize, the more interest you will generate.
  • Add Social Share “After Sale” Buttons: Turn excitement into referrals by incorporating social sharing into your sales funnel. Include pre-populated social media actions, requiring minimal work for optimal shares. With Event Journal, social media sharing is incorporated into every page of every website. Also, purchasers are prompted to share news of their attendance several times during the checkout process.
  • Host a “Pre-Event” Event on Social Media: The best way to give people a taste of your event is to host a pre-event event. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes Facebook Live broadcast or a Blab with some of your key speakers, be sure to advertise it across multiple platforms.
  • Offer a Private Facebook Group Exclusive to Attendees: Schedule periodic posts to the group to keep people engaged and share information that is relevant to attendees.

Online marketing is a great way to promote your events, and there are a million possibilities for how you can do it. Choose your favorites and start testing them with your audience! Or talk to us at Event Journal about best practices for promoting your nonprofit event online. Read this article in its entirety at EventMB.

 

 

 

 

Ten Steps toward Securing Event Donations

Section: Blog

Struggling to secure donations for your event? Kelli White of EventMB shares ten ways to boost at-event contributions toward your cause:

  • Step outside your comfort zone: Start out small by asking for in-kind or product donations. Become educated on why donors should be supporting your event. When you convey this confidence in your pitch to potential donors they’ll be more likely to contribute.
  • Pick up the phone: In today’s tech-driven world, it’s easy to overlook the power of a simple phone call. When it comes to financial support and finding people or companies to invest in your event you need to build a personal connection and the easiest way to do so is through real conversations.
  • Build Community Relationships: Find a way to build trust within your community, by being present and interactive in your area. Look for local networking opportunities, community events and opportunities to build relationships with other like-minded individuals.
  • Find Donors Who Connect with Your Mission or Event: Identify people who have a connection to your mission. Once you find these supporters, not only are they likely to become donors, but they will also encourage others to contribute. Ask them them to join your event committee or involve them through a volunteer opportunity.
  • Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships: Find ways to provide donors with proper recognition and value for their contribution. Find out what is important to your donors and look for ways to meet these needs. If supporters see the donation as mutually beneficial, they’ll be more likely to support you year after year.
  • Seek Out In-Kind Donations: In-kind or product donations can prove to be just as valuable as monetary donations, depending on the needs of your event. When you find a sponsor that wants to donate a product or service instead of donating money, think about the benefits that this will provide to your attendees. No matter what they would like to donate there is a good chance that the money you save through their donation can have a significant impact in your bottom line.
  • Outline Your Donation Levels and Opportunities: Define the value supporters will obtain with their donation. Create a web page or printed piece that helps you present opportunities and levels.
  • Share Stories That Make an Impact: Sharing stories that can reflect the impact your donors will have is one of the most influential ways to connect the donors to the cause. Utilize creative messaging with images, video, written stories and artwork. When donors have the chance to form a real picture why there is a need for donations, they’ll be more inclined to open their wallet for your cause.
  • Start Early: Most company budgets are created in the previous year, so target potential donors early on. If a company turns you down due to the timeline, find out what type of lead time they need and put them on your list to approach for next year.
  • Make “The Ask” and Make It Often: A donor will never know that your event needs money if you don’t take the time to ask them for a donation. Sometimes it is really just this simple. Once you have shown the need for their support ask them to contribute. Don’t be afraid to follow up. If you don’t follow up they may think you found the support in another way and you no longer have a need for their support.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

What is “aspect ratio” and why should you care?

Section: Blog

Aspect ratio refers to how wide an AV image is, compared to how tall. An improperly formatted event presentation can really diminish the impact of your gala content, making your organization appear less professional. It’s possible you could pay for a wide screen TV but then only show standard 4:3 material, leaving gaps on the left and right. Or you might order a large projection screen or iPad centerpieces, then not use the top and bottom due to widescreen content. Not only is there a question of unused sponsor recognition space but, aesthetically, it screams amateur.

What is aspect ratio and why should you care? The truth is, when you work with Event Journal, you don’t need to concern yourself with aspect ratio. That’s because AV coordination is one of the many details we handle to ensure that your event presentation is professional and on point. Event Journal ensures you’re getting the most bang for your buck, using the entire screen you paid for and presenting the very best version of your content.

For more information on aspect ratio, see IMS Technology Services’ newsletter.

Top 10 Secrets of a Nonprofit Event Specialist

Section: Blog

Chris Lipari, is founder and owner of Lipari Production Group, event specialists providing production and consultation services to nonprofit organizations. LPG has produced events ranging from large star-studded benefits to “K9K” walks across the Brooklyn Bridge. Chris shares his top 10 “insider secrets” for successful fundraising events. These tips resonate with Event Journal, because they are many of the same suggestions we give our clients:

  • Think strategically about your event. What is your organization hoping to gain from the event? What do you want the event to achieve and communicate? Set goals — and not just financial goals!
  • Determine how you want your event to make people feel. How do you envision the complete event experience, from start to finish?
  • Build an infrastructure into your development team to anticipate, plan and manage your annual major special event. Your other development activities should not come to a screeching halt each year when the event is being planned. If this is the case, consider outsourcing more responsibilities to seasoned event professionals.
  • Engage all departments in your organization: development, communications, finance, and programing to work as a team – you all have the same goal!
  • Be smart about budget – both revenue and expenses. Dinner Galas are costly to produce and are not the right fit for every organization. Consider other possibilities, such as a cocktail party or tasting event.
  • The planned flow of an event is always likely to change. Who is the one person who knows the objective of the event, what should happen and (most importantly) is empowered to make real-time decisions to create a positive outcome?
  • What are you spending money and time on?  Do you really need a printed journal?  Make use of video projection to recognize supporters and sponsors at the event.  Consider a digital event journal. It lives online year-round, saves paper and is one less thing for guests to carry home (and throw away!)
  • At the event, you have a captive audience. How are you going to communicate with them? Attendees should walk away with new knowledge about your organization and its mission, and why you need their support. There must be a compelling call to action.
  • Who are your guests? Often, tickets get passed down the line and may end up in the hands of a table sponsor’s guests who have no connection with your organization and its mission. Find a way to engage these people too. Make sure there are giving opportunities for guests at every financial level. Not only will this yield more revenue, it will allow your organization to capture guest information and begin to cultivate these new donors.
  • Make sure to hold a post-event debriefing: the good, the bad and the not-so-good! Consider sending a short survey to board and committee members and a selection of guests.  Take specific notes, so you can start to build a year-to-year dossier of the event and build on your success.

The Balance of Power between Boards and Executive Directors: How to Share Authority

Section: Blog

by Guest Blogger, Katherine DeFoyd, Growth for Good

What constitutes a healthy relationship between an executive director and a board of directors? How can organizations strike a healthy balance of power? 

Most successful executive directors are entrepreneurial self-starters. They are mavericks. These characteristics inspire them to provide services to the world that the free market cannot provide, e.g., arts education, youth development, senior services, affordable healthcare. They lead lean organizations, with fewer resources than their for-profit counterparts. And while their “get it done” attitude is what makes them successful — unchecked, it can be a barrier to healthy board relations and organizational growth.

Executive directors often feel they do not have time to seek input from board members, thus making decisions in a vacuum. Board members are left asking themselves, “Why are we here?” When board members have minimal opportunity for meaningful input beyond basic legal and fiduciary oversight and fundraising, they lose interest, pull away and stop contributing energy, ideas and money. This disinterest further drives the executive director to act alone. We call this downward spiral the “Lone Ranger Syndrome.”

Healthy board and executive director relations come down to a thoughtful and inclusive planning processes and honest, ongoing communication of progress toward goals. As one executive director said, “You can’t build an airplane while you are flying.” Good planning must include an organization’s executive director/staff and board leadership. This includes all planning categories: strategic planning, fundraising planning, and event planning. Plans should not be expressed in a few PowerPoint slides with broad sweeping statements and visions of grandeur. Instead, plans should include:

  • Agreed upon, clearly defined goals
  • Time-bound, measurable objectives
  • Realistic budgets
  • Specific tasks
  • Well-defined roles & responsibilities

An inclusive planning process is time-consuming and less efficient than some executives would like. But it is essential that it include board and staff members so there is real buy-in with their responsibilities. By helping to set the vision, board and staff members are eager to do their best work.

Both formal and informal communication is essential to board and executive director cooperation. Board meetings are the forum to report on program progress, budgets, and to make governance decisions. Another executive director said, “Too many nonprofits only present a rosy picture to their board and sweep challenges under the rug.” Informal communication between board meetings among staff and board members is also critical. This builds trust. Staff members feel safe and can be frank about progress (or lack thereof) toward an objective. It also allows board members to become advocates and help offer solutions, find extra resources and use their executive intellectual skills to move the agenda.

We hope this advice helps your organization build a better board!

 

Tap into New Donors via Special Events

Section: Blog

When planning a fundraising event, it is easy to get buried in the details, of which there are many. But remember that an event is more than “just” an event. It is an opportunity to tap into hundreds of new donors. If you hyper-focus only on the event details and think only about existing donors, you are missing out on a tremendous amount of potential and an opportunity to build new relationships.

Think about it … 500 people in a room … a captive audience … all there with open ears, willing to hear your organization’s compelling message. What percent of guests are people in your donor base and what percent are completely new to your organization? These guests, friends of friends, individuals from sponsoring companies may have a personal connection to your cause. But you won’t know unless you connect to them.

Here are some ideas to maximize their potential impact to your organization:

  • Pre-event, run attendee names through an online donor research tool to determine which guests you want to seek out
  • At the event, be certain to capture contact information for guests, especially email addresses. Make sure check in staff is aware that this is a priority. You can even enlist a few floaters with iPads to unobtrusively approach guests for this information, tableside.
  • You may also be able to obtain this information if holding an auction or availing yourself of event pledging. Remember, many of your attendees have not personally laid out a penny to attend your event and may want the opportunity to donate. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
  • Present giving opportunities that will appeal to people of every level. Often tickets get handed down the line and may end up in the hands of entry level or administrative employees of your sponsors. Not only will this yield more donations, it will allow your organization to capture guest information and begin to cultivate these young donors.
  • Do post-event research on event attendees. Cultivate obvious donors, but do not disregard the second tier prospects.
  • Have staff make a thank you call to designated guests to engage them, thank them for attending and to invite future involvement in your organization.
  • Events are vehicles to bring in new prospects. These are people you would otherwise not meet, so view this as an opportunity. Develop these donors beyond just the event.

Follow Up:

  • Thank You
  • Send Video
  • Offer Volunteer Opportunities
  • Offer peer to peer fundraising opportunities

Event Journal gives nonprofits a tool to engage event participants. More than just a registration page, our robust event websites allow users to explore your organization and gives you a vehicle with which to engage them for a full year plus.

 

 

PCI Compliance Checklist for Nonprofit Organizations

Section: Blog

To protect your nonprofit organization’s bottom line, reputation and the trust of supporters, you need to achieve and maintain PCI compliance for your shopping cart and donation portals. PCI refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard set by major credit card brands to ensure that organizations do everything in their power to protect supporters’ data security. Failing to meet PCI compliance standards could leave you at a higher risk of a data breach. Also, in the case of a data breach, your organization could face steep fines and the additional financial burdens of a forensics audit and card replacement costs.

If your organization accepts credit cards or stores payment data of any kind and hasn’t yet become PCI compliant, you need to take action right away. You can also process payments through a third party that offers this level of security, such as Event Journal.

This article by Fenella Yin Fang Kam outlines six ways to help achieve PCI compliance to protect your organization from serious financial risks:

  1. Protect Your Data With A Firewall: A firewall adds extra layers of data security and makes your organization less susceptible to a breach. 
  2. Get Secure Payment Technology: Encryption and tokenization break your donors’ data into codes that data thieves are not able to read or translate.
  3. Install Malware Protection And Anti-Virus Software: PCI compliance standards also require malware protection and anti-virus software installed on all of your computers.
  4. Limit Access To Your Payment Data: PCI requirements dictate that you limit access to stored payment data.
  5. Change Your Passwords: While complicated passwords are hard to remember, the added data security they offer makes them worthwhile.
  6. Work With Your Merchant Services Provider: Working with an expert merchant services provider that’s dedicated to your bottom line makes the PCI compliance process easier. 

 

Check the six items above to start your path to data security success today, and click here to read the article in its entirety.

Promoting your Event on Social Media

Section: Blog

Trying to create a viral buzz for your organization’s next fundraising event? Social media is a powerful tool to gain exposure, when used strategically and effectively. We love this article from Kimberly Reynolds at Social Media Examiner providing “16 Ways to Promote your Event” providing tips to increase awareness, engagement and sales. A few of this tips include:

Use Facebook Ads to Remarket to Prospects: Facebook custom audiences allow you to show ads to people who have already visited your website. This is called remarketing (also known as retargeting). Advertisers can show event ads to Facebook users who left the website before purchasing a ticket.

Create a Highlight Reel from Previous Events: Video provides a unique opportunity to convey the energy and excitement of a live event. Great visuals and catchy audio are a potent combination that drives registration.

Empower Affiliates, Fans and Attendees with “Shareable” Assets: Make it easy to share your event. Provide a website with branded downloadable resources that fit any platform.

Create One Unified Event Hashtag for Use Across All Social Channels: Create, use and market your event-specific hashtag. You should be using this hashtag well in advance of your event dates and it should be included on EVERYTHING … every digital image you create, every piece of collateral, your email signature. Also, remember to include the hashtag in all bio pages, since these tend to be widely shared.

Create One Unified Event Hashtag for Use Across All Social Channels: Facebook recently rolled out its new call-to-action button to “bring a business’s most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence. Link a “book now” button to your event website.

Add Your Event to Your Email Signature: Have you considered how many emails you send and receive on any given day? Each one of those is an opportunity to spread awareness for your event. Simply add a hyperlink and/or graphic to your signature line.

Please click here to read more tips from the very informative article.

Introducing ejRemote

Section: Blog

An Online Ad Gallery, Embedded on Your Organization’s Event Page

It’s here and we couldn’t be any prouder! ejRemote appears directly on clients’ event pages … on their own websites or third-party platforms. Participants learn about the event and register online using the nonprofit organization’s existing shopping cart and database. Then, they leave the journal ads to us. Event Journal manages the entire process, freeing our clients up to raise more funds!

Behind the scenes, Event Journal creates, proofs and posts the ads, and hosts the entire ad gallery on our secure server. Event sponsors & supporters receive added recognition via an easy-to-navigate “e-journal” platform. This is not a static pdf or flipbook. This is a dynamic, responsive gallery. Journal ads can be seen in slide view, list view or via a search feature — and ads link to sponsors’ websites.

Event Journal provides a link for organizations to include in their purchase confirmation emails. When clicked on, it directs users to a customized ad submission portal. Users can attach a camera-ready ad or can submit copy for a personalized message and Event Journal creates the ad for them. All ads are posted to the ejRemote gallery in real time and the client is copied on all ad submissions.

At the event, the ad journal comes to life as an elegant presentation, showcased on large screens or table-top iPad displays.

ejRemote is a great addition to the digital Event Journal family. It adds a flexible alternative to our flagship service, EVENTjournal, which provides expanded benefits and opportunities. Please click HERE for more information on ejRemote or call us to discuss which option is best for your fundraising event!  Please view our first ejRemote gallery for Columbia University here.

Is a Business Venture Right for your Organization?

Section: Blog

Event Journal client, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) of Long Island, NY is a nonprofit organization supporting more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual / developmental disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury. When FREE was seeking better career opportunities for its constituents, administration decided to look within and develop its own opportunities through affirmative business ventures. FREE now operates Terry’s Cafe, a full service catering outfit, made up of individuals with special needs who are interested in food service careers. The same organization also operates a commercial cleaning service called Swept FREE and a retail store called Fancy FREE, which sells gifts and handmade crafts, many created by program participants.

“In addition to providing useful services to the community, our Affirmative Businesses provide a sense of independence and freedom to the men and woman we serve,” said Greg Varro, Affirmative Business Development Manager for FREE. “On top of the income they earn, these individuals obtain valuable training and experience, enabling them to seek employment anywhere else they may choose to live.”

Geri Stengel of Ventureneer is a seasoned consultant to nonprofits in the area of business ventures. She shares some helpful information for organizations considering embarking on such ventures:

Nonprofit business ventures are not a fad or a new idea. Many organizations — from literacy efforts to senior service providers — are creating ventures. Whether large or small, nonprofits run thrift shops, food service companies and even manufacturing companies to fund their programs and motivate program participants.

Benefits of such ventures include producing unrestricted income, enhancing organization’s mission, building an entrepreneurial culture, improving the organization’s recognition and attracting donors, volunteers and staff. Business ventures can increase organization revenue, while reducing vulnerability from changes in donor trends. These diversified revenues can help your organization become less reliant on donations, grants and corporate money, and more self-sustainable.

Here are ten tips Geri provides to ensure your nonprofit’s commercial venture is a success:

  1. Spend Time Planning: Start by identifying an evangelist within the organization who will champion the creation of your business venture, take ownership of the planning process and invest the time necessary to work on the plan. Creating a business plan will clarify your direction, gain buy-in from stakeholders, confirm the venture’s feasibility and identify risks. Define the features and benefits of the product/service. Describe the strategies you’ll use to reach the target market, such as positioning, pricing, distribution channels, sales, advertising and publicity. Budget expenses, project revenue, develop milestones and determine how much money is needed and when.
  2. Stay True to Your Mission: Evaluate the appropriateness of the venture to the nonprofit’s mission. Does the business venture further the mission of the organization? Ventures that are compatible with the nonprofit’s mission are more likely to succeed and have the support of the nonprofit’s key stakeholders.
  3. Practice Good Governance: Get board support early on. If you have to fight the culture of the board or the parent organization, the venture will fail. Managing expectations is important. Keep your board and parent organization informed.
  4. Get Connected: Leaders of commercial ventures need connections to sources of business expertise, industry connections and money. Broaden your existing network by attending conferences, joining organizations and using your Board’s connections. Professionals—such as lawyers, accountants or bankers—can open doors for you.
  5. Ensure Adequate Financing: Money available through grants is limited, and it may be difficult to get donations and corporate money for the creation of business ventures. Therefore, it will be in your interest to learn about new sources of capital, including debt, equity and alternative financing.
  6. Assemble a Strong Management Team: Your top person should be entrepreneurial and have a track record in the industry you’re targeting. Ideally, teams should have, not only industry experience but, functional expertise and industry connections in sales, marketing, technology and finance. Equally important, the people you hire must have a passion for your mission and share the values of your organization. Establish clear lines of authority and responsibility to ensure decision making isn’t slowed by the needs of the nonprofit. Be prepared to pay according to market scale, not nonprofit wages, even though you may be paying your venture employees more than your nonprofit staff.
  7. Benefit by Forming Strategic Alliances: Collaborations are a way to leverage resources, share expertise and spread costs to tackle complex challenges. Partnerships foster mutual benefits, but the alliances exist only as long as they are advantageous to both parties.
  8. Measure Financial, Operational and Social Performance: Healthy revenue and profit margins are crucial to any commercial venture. You must maintain adequate financial information systems to determine the health of the business and hold the management team accountable for making a profit.
  9. Focus on the Customer: Every business seeks satisfied customers who return because they trust the company’s product or service. Repeat customers come at a much lower cost than attracting new customers. Build loyalty by instilling a helpful attitude, delivering on advertised promises, developing a favorable return policy and providing accurate product information.
  10. Adapt Quickly, Thoughtfully and Strategically: Problems may arise for a variety of reasons, usually due to overly optimistic sales projections. Stakeholders will want to know what strategies you have in place to cope with this slippage. Remember, even the most promising start-up may need a greater investment to reach break-even.

 

 

Read Geri Stengel’s article in its entirety here. For more information on FREE, click here.