Is your nonprofit website ready for a party? How about an upcoming fundraiser, community gathering or a free workshop? If your organization sends people away from your website to complete online event registration, you could be making your process more difficult (and expensive) than it has to be.
There’s a common assumption among nonprofits that the easiest or only option is to pay for a service that handles online event registration on a separate, proprietary platform. But many nonprofits, especially smaller organizations, don’t have very complicated needs when it comes to event registration and payment.
Learn more about your options for event management to find a process that works for you—skipping the extra fees and bells and whistles that aren’t mission-critical.
Online Event Registration: Where & How
There are tons of ways to collect RSVPs and offer online ticket sales for nonprofits, but we think it’s helpful to boil it down to two main scenarios:
- On a separate website, where one or more third-party services hosts a page for your event, collects registrations and payment, and stores registration data
- On your nonprofit’s website, using a customized event registration form or embedding a third-party service within your pages to manage events
Organizations tend to choose this approach when they don’t think that their own website is up to the task or is missing some key event management functionality. Third-party services typically provide a customizable landing page for your event and a way for people to register and pay, but what you get for the price can vary substantially.
Options like EventBrite and Brown Paper Tickets don’t have fees for free events (when no payment is needed), but they will charge fees once you need to collect payments. Ticket Tailor has a nonprofit discount but also a monthly service fee. If you use the Give Lively platform, event registration services are free and event attendees can be asked to cover processing fees.
You could put Facebook Events in this category since they allow people to express interest and give you the option to link to an external site for ticket sales and event registration. You can use Facebook Events for free events, too, but RSVPs aren’t as reliable since they are subject to change with a quick click.
There are also a few ways to offer online event registration within your website rather than sending people to an external page hosted by a third-party platform.
- If you use widgets and plugins on a website built with WordPress, Brown Paper Tickets and Ticket Tailor have options to embed their systems and forms within your pages.
- You can build a website that has an event management system built in, which is what we offer here on the Wired Impact platform.
- Or you can take a more DIY approach and build custom registration forms for each event (try Gravity Forms), which includes setting up integrations with payment processors and donor databases as needed.
5 Reasons to Use Your Website for Events
If the number of options is making your head spin, here’s our best advice: choose a process that keeps people on your website from start to finish. There are many benefits to using your website as the main promotion hub for your events, and we’ve outlined five for you to consider.
Your supporters want an online event registration process that’s simple and seamless. When you keep people on your site, they should be able to:
- Complete registration or ticket purchases quickly
- Feel confident about what exactly they are signing up for and with what organization (because of your well-written content and branding, of course)
- Trust that the information and payment processing is secure
No two events are exactly the same, and your event registration process should be adaptable enough to accommodate different scenarios, like a mix of paid and free events. Using your own website gives you more flexibility to:
- Make registration forms that collect the information you need from event attendees, whether food allergies or T-shirt sizes
- Sell tickets and collect payments for event registration, or offer registration without payment
- Decide if your event even needs a form, like in this example for an open house
- Easily download or export all the information you gather from registration forms
Service and payment processing fees are the most expensive part of online event registration for nonprofits. Either you get charged to sell tickets or accept payments for paid events, or you might be able to pass that cost to your attendees. When you use your website, it’s possible to:
- Skip extra ticket fees imposed by third-party services in addition to credit card processing fees (which are hard to avoid no matter what you do). For example, a service might charge 3% of the ticket price and $1 per ticket sold PLUS 2.5% for payment processing.
- Avoid monthly subscription fees or getting locked into an annual contract
- Cut out the middleman and process payments with a service you like or that offers nonprofit discounts like Stripe
As you know, promoting nonprofit events and filling seats isn’t always the easiest task. Your organization’s website should be a crucial part of event promotions, which also makes it a great place to accept online registrations!
- When you post about your event on social media or share a link in a marketing email, you’ll have a secure and branded page on your site to send them
- Your event page can serve as a landing page for paid ads via Google or Facebook, rather than paying to send traffic elsewhere online
- You have control over the event URL. Compare www.puppyrescue.org/gala to something like www.myevents.com/puppyrescue/987654abcZfg.
- If you use Facebook Events to attract attention, you can always link people to your site to register and learn more about your mission, especially if you want to start building relationships with new people
If you don’t use a third-party service, it’s one less thing to keep track of! In addition, you’ll likely have more control over integrations with the services you already use. Accepting event registrations through your website can make it easier to:
- Share registration activity and data with your email marketing provider and donor database
- Process payments with the service of your choosing, which could also mean getting the funds into your bank account more quickly
- Track your event promotion activities through the Google Analytics account on your site, like measuring the amount of traffic to an event page or how many registrations came from your email campaigns
If you can’t tell, our team thinks that online event registration best serves nonprofits when the whole process happens on your website and under your control—which is why we offer it as a feature of our website builder. The same can also be said for posting volunteer opportunities on your site. Keep it all close to home!
What questions do you have about accepting event registrations with your website? We’d love to hear from nonprofits about the setups or services you’ve tried to make the process as painless and cost-effective as possible. Join us in the comments.