The current non-profit event landscape has been filled with victory stories about rebuilding teams, re-instituting programs, and record levels of donations.
While events continue to be a significant channel for fundraising, raising issue awareness, and training volunteers, they are still often viewed as an additional overhead expense that must have a justifiable return on investment. Here are the top five trends for non-profit event planning that can help you leverage this powerful marketing channel.
1. Non-Profit Event Planning Requires More Digital In-Person Events
Historically, non-profits have been slow to invest in their technology suite. From competing budget items to reporting incentives to keep overhead costs low, non-profits have been able to provide a low-tech donor experience without significant impact on their reputations and fundraising – until now.
In recent years, donors have become accustomed to new and modern event tools. This familiarity has led to higher expectations among in-person event attendees. Donors want an integrated experience where they can interact through apps and engagement media, which means non-profits need to invest in event technology that offers solutions for all elements of their events.
To enhance the attendee and donor experience, non-profits have begun incorporating digital elements like virtual reality experiences; interactive digital displays; and custom event apps that allow attendees to register for events, view schedules, connect with speakers and other attendees, and even make donations in real-time.
Event managers can also bolster their event marketing strategy and leverage social media to build buzz around an event, and live streaming can extend an event’s reach to those who cannot attend in person. All these digital tools can help non-profits stand out, reach a wider audience, and create a lasting impression on attendees, helping to increase engagement and bolster fundraising.
Top tip: Make digital elements an integral part of your in-person events to boost and measure attendee engagement before, during, after, and between your events.
2. ESG Policies Impact Event Design
The scope of event design is no longer limited to the nuts and bolts of execution. Sustainability, diversity, and inclusion are top of mind for non-profit event planning professionals, who are seeing more Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) mandates and policies from organizational boards.
Recently, non-profit boards and their donors expect events to demonstrate their organizations' commitment to the environment and the greater good of the community. Of course, focusing on these priorities aligns well with the mission of non-profits to create positive change and promote the well-being of the communities they serve. It is therefore timely to assess how to bring event policies and procedures up to date.
Event planners must consider these elements at each phase of event design, including logistics, which ensure their events and content are easily accessible and equitable to all members, selecting diverse speakers and promoting inclusive language in communications, and partnering with certified venues and vendors using sustainability best practices.
For many in the events industry, sustainability is top of mind. In a Global Business Travel survey, 80% of respondents said their organization takes sustainability into account when planning meetings and events, and of this group, 76% have implemented a sustainable meeting program strategy.
That said, the road to sustainability is an arduous one. While sustainability is a priority for organizations everywhere, 59% of event professionals see sustainability as a challenge for their organizations, according to an ICE benchmarking report.
To address this, non-profits are focusing on setting measurable sustainability goals, tracking their events’ carbon footprint (including catering, energy consumption, and distance traveled by attendees), and analyzing the impact of their efforts to create more sustainable events in the future.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the mission of all non-profits: to represent and serve all members of their communities. By embracing the principles of DE&I, non-profits can strengthen their impact by bringing together people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This can lead to more innovative solutions and a stronger connection with the community.
Accessibility is also a crucial consideration when discussing DE&I. By ensuring their services and programs are accessible to all, non-profits can ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to benefit from their work.
Prioritizing DE&I can take many forms, including:
- Selecting speakers with diverse backgrounds
- Offering virtual opportunities for attendees who cannot attend in person
- Using inclusive language throughout all event communications
- Providing physical spaces that are accessible to people with disabilities
- Offering materials in different languages and formats
- Utilizing technologies that enable people with disabilities to participate fully
Overall, non-profits that prioritize sustainability, diversity, and accessibility are better positioned to fulfill their missions and have a positive impact on the communities they serve.
3. Combat Event Burnout with Automated Processes
Non-profits typically rely on lean teams of passionate staff and volunteers, which can put a strain on their event and marketing operations. As these teams come back to full capacity and train new hires and volunteers, they may find that the manual processes and point solutions that worked in the past are no longer sufficient to meet the demands of a modern non-profit organization.
This is where an integrated event technology platform can be a game-changer. By investing in an event technology platform, non-profit leaders can upgrade their teams’ capacity and capabilities.
An integrated platform can streamline and automate many manual processes that take up valuable time and resources, allowing teams to focus on more strategic tasks. It can also provide a centralized hub for all event-related activities, from registration and ticketing to on-site check-ins and post-event reporting.
In addition, an event technology platform can improve communication and collaboration among team members and volunteers, making it easier to work together and coordinate efforts. This can help ensure that events run smoothly and that donors have a positive experience.
Overall, investing in an event technology platform can help non-profits achieve more with less, allowing them to focus on their mission and make a bigger impact in their communities.
4. Link Event and Fundraising Data to Enable Donor Analysis and Insights
Events are an excellent opportunity for non-profits to gather valuable data about their donors' interests and behavior. This information can be used to build more personalized donor experiences and improve targeting with event and content offerings.
Non-profits can utilize tools such as mobile event apps, integrations that enhance data insights, and post-event surveys to capture the right data to build a more complete profile of their donor mix and their preferences.
Mobile event apps can be used to gather information such as attendees' interests, their sessions of choice, and the exhibitors they visit. This data can be used to personalize future event invitations, offers, and other outreach efforts.
Post-event surveys can also capture valuable information such as attendee satisfaction, event effectiveness, and interest in specific causes. By analyzing this data, non-profits can make informed decisions about improving future events and tailor marketing communications to reach particular groups.
Using insights from event data and surveys, non-profits can build more targeted, personalized campaigns that resonate with their donors. This can help deepen donor engagement, build trust, and drive fundraising efforts.
Top Tip: Check out how you can integrate donor management software into your event tech!
5. More Digital Content for Marketing and Communications
In-person, virtual, and hybrid events have been proven to provide a wealth of valuable long-form content that non-profit marketers and communications teams can leverage in promotional materials.
Non-profits will need to consider how to manage the submission and uploading of organic field content, such as user-generated content and photos, along with their in-house produced media. To effectively manage and distribute this content, non-profits should develop a solid content marketing strategy that includes the right digital asset tools.
An integrated event technology platform can help by providing a central hub for all event-related assets, from photos and videos to event agendas and speaker bios. This makes it easier to organize, manage, and share content with the right audience in real time.
Furthermore, a good content strategy can help non-profits maximize the value of their events and drive engagement before, during, after, and between events. By creating engaging content that speaks to the interests and passions of their donors, non-profits can build stronger relationships and inspire action.
Content can take many forms, including blog posts, social media updates, videos, and email newsletters. An integrated event technology platform can make it easier to distribute this content through multiple channels and track the results.
Stay Ahead with These Non-Profit Event Planning Trends
Non-profits are being asked by all stakeholders – boards, staff, donors, sponsors, and beneficiaries – to be thoughtful about the design and format of events. This will require actionable insights that come from combining event and donor data.
Despite the recent health of charitable giving, fundraising continues to be in a long-term slow decline. Non-profits have an incredible opportunity to collect and share event content while scaling their fundraising events and bolstering donor support.
Now is the time to solidify a thoughtful event planning strategy and implement the tactical technology support that will ensure your non-profit’s success.