August 20, 2019
By Brittany Estes

Event technology is increasingly seen as a key component of any organization's tech stack. As the value of events grows, corporations are investing in event technology more than ever.

On the other hand, smaller organizations often think their events do not warrant the same need for event technology. Nonprofits and associations are often accustomed to doing more with less, relying on small teams and manual processes to manage their events. What happens when manual processes start affecting the business model? Jared Cohen, CEO of the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area, saw this first-hand. “When I arrived at PFNCA in 2013, I was immediately challenged with operating losses that the foundation had for years," he explains. "The board of directors was really trying to understand, is our model of service even viable?”

Suffering from Manual Processes

Faced with mounting pressure to transform the small nonprofit into a fully sustainable organization, the team needed to scale without adding costly resources. To help quantify the direct impact of their work on the Parkinson’s community, they sought to generate net new revenue and improve efficiencies. Jared recalls days spent manually transcribing paper registration forms into an Excel, sending confirmations by mail or email. “Emails would bounce back because we couldn’t read the handwriting, we would make errors by inverting numbers for the payments, the phones were ringing all the was incredibly labor intensive,” he laments.

Creating a Digital Turnaround Story

The solution, says Jared, was simple. The team adopted Cvent’s Event Management and Onsite Solution to manage their wellness courses, annual Parkinson’s Pointers symposium, and quarterly educational lecture series. Automating the registration process allows the small team to automatically capture registration details and agreements for their liability waiver. They can also quickly issue a digital badge with a QR code for easy check-in. Jared’s team has seen drastic growth in just a few short years as a result. He explains, “A lot of our turnaround story, and we’ve had a major turnaround story, has been because of our use of Cvent. Plainly stated."

Increasing Donorship Opportunities

To increase donorship, PFNCA was challenged with differentiating themselves from other organizations doing similar work. Jared explains, “There are probably a dozen national charities that are involved with Parkinson’s doing all different kinds of work. All of these national organizations have very similar names, so the question was how do we increase our name recognition in a way that scaled to our ability?”

By leveraging Cvent’s built-in marketing capabilities, they were able to promote the PFNCA brand to increase name recognition and revenue streams. The website gives PFNCA the space to market the brand’s story, creating an additional channel for inbound donations. The onsite experience further allows PFNCA to promote their logo, branding, and website on badges and lanyards. “Cvent has allowed us to better understand data, to increase revenue by charging nominal fees where maybe before we didn't, and also allow us to leverage optional donations for every event,” notes Jared.

He adds that the use of event technology has elevated the professionalism of the brand, creating key sponsorship opportunities as a result. “We're seeing increases in corporate sponsorship because of how polished our events look using CVENT, and we're able to really use the website feature to promote our sponsors with links,” says Jared. “We’re able to use the communication infrastructure to recognize our sponsors before and after the event with targeted emails as well.”

Moreover, PFNCA leverages Cvent as a key tool in their end-to-end program lifecycle. “Another benefit of using Cvent is that we have a very robust evaluation and survey capacity,” adds Jared. “So, understanding who is attending our program and how often essentially becomes a lead generation list for us for nonprofit fundraising purposes.”

Ensuring Invaluable Community Impact

As the program grows, PFNCA is better able to create powerful change in the lives of their constituents. Since 2016, PFNCA has seen a 37% increase in program registrations and a 47% increase in symposium revenue. They have received over $10,000 in net new donations for their Parkinson’s Pointers series, a free program that is only fifteen months old. They have also impressively doubled their revenue.

Jared credits PFNCA’s newfound use of event technology as a key component in creating a fully sustainable operational model. “When we started with Cvent, we didn’t know what to expect as a small foundation. We thought it was outside of our wheelhouse, and it was a big expense. Every year we’ve increased our work and products with Cvent, and we continue to do so in the future because Cvent is driving our growth,” he explains.

Jared believes that event technology is something every nonprofit can benefit from, regardless of size. He explains, “Cvent is an incredibly powerful tool for nonprofits. It more than pays for itself. Cvent allows you to expand and re-engineer how you serve the community. These are the pillars of any nonprofit that is going to be successful, no matter what your size is. It’s all under one roof with Cvent.”

See why PFNCA won the Cvent Excellence Awards for "The Achiever" at Cvent CONNECT 2019, and hear Jared's story in his own words.

Watch the Video


Brittany Estes

After completing graduate school at Vanderbilt University, I spent over a decade writing in the nonprofit, education, and creative fields.

In my free time, I enjoy rummaging through old book shops for a rare find, traveling, and learning photography. 

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