5 Ways to Streamline Online Event Registration for Nonprofits

March 26, 2019
Posted In Strategy

Planning events for your nonprofit organization requires a lot of work. One of the first things you need to do is come up with a simple event registration process that encourages, volunteers, attendees and donors to register or buy tickets for your event.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways your nonprofit organization can streamline the online event registration process and share some actionable tips to help you get started. Before we begin, let’s step through some reasons why your event can benefit from a simple and intuitive event registration process.

Why It’s Important to Streamline Your Event Registration Process

More often than not, nonprofit event organizers spend most of their time focusing on building donor lists and event marketing. As a result, the event registration process usually becomes an afterthought.

However, since your event registration process is one of the first touch points you’ll have with attendees and customers, you need to make sure it delivers a good user experience. By doing so, you’ll essentially be making it easier for attendees to complete their registration and attend the event.

Here’s why it’s important to simplify the event registration process:

  • It’s the first meaningful interaction prospective attendees and donors will have with your brand.
  • Your goal is to get prospective attendees to register for your event; the event registration process shouldn’t act as a barrier.
  • It makes it easier to manage attendee information.
  • Your registration forms give you an opportunity to collect donations from people who’d like to contribute to your event but don’t have the time to attend.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to streamline the event registration process for attendees.

5 Easy Ways Your Nonprofit Can Streamline the Online Event Registration Process

From the attendees’ perspective, a typical event registration process involves everything from filling out a registration form to checking in on the day of the event. As a nonprofit event organizer, you have to make sure you’re making this process as simple and straightforward as possible.

With this in mind, here are a few easy ways to streamline the online event registration process for your next event.

#1: Use Event Registration Software

For those unfamiliar, event registration software – like Event Espresso – offers neat features that let you create engaging registration forms, sell tickets, collect payments, manage attendees and much more. All these systems (and more) cannot be accomplished just by using an online form. You’ll see that Event Espresso probably has features you haven’t even thought about but are very important, like wait lists, or taxes, or spam protection, and more.

Before you begin looking for event registration software, it’s a good idea to evaluate your event registration process to determine which features you think you’ll need. Determine what parts of your registration process are the most critical and which are more optional. Here are some key features for your nonprofit to look for:

  • Group registrations. Go for a solution that allows multiple attendees to register for your event at a time. This makes it easy for donors to register their friends or family members for your event without having to fill out the registration form for each person.
  • Ability to accept donations and payments. Your event registration software should give you the option to accept donations and payments by integrating with popular payment gateways.
  • Event calendar. Event calendars make it easy for prospective attendees to find out information about upcoming events and add events to their calendar.
  • Manage attendee information. Managing attendee information manually can be a daunting task – especially when you have sponsors, volunteers, and donors attending your events. Choose an event registration software that takes some of the heavy lifting off your hands.
  • Email List Gathering. The more contacts you have, the more relationships you can grow. Using an email service provider (like MailChimp) can help you engage with your audiences such as donors and volunteers time and time again through newsletters, announcements, and invitations. With Event Espresso’s MailChimp integration, your attendees can automatically be added to your MailChimp email database after they sign up for your event.

Be sure to check out 14 Recommended WordPress Tools for the Nonprofit Event Planner for ideas on how to supercharge your nonprofit event website using WordPress plugins.

#2: Create Simple Event Registration Forms

Many times, people abandon registration forms either because they’re too lengthy or they ask for unnecessary information.

So, before you begin designing your event’s online registration form, take a step back and jot down the information you’d like to collect. Next, cross off everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. You’ll likely end up with an event registration form that’s short and to the point.

Think of it this way: [italics]the less effort prospective attendees have to put into filling out your event registration form, the more likely they will be to complete it.[/italics]

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Only ask for what’s necessary. Ask for what’s strictly necessary to register attendees for your event. At the bare minimum, this typically includes their name, email address, and payment information. Remember, you can always ask for more information after they’ve registered for the event.
  • Provide specific error messages. Submitting a form only to find out you filled out a field incorrectly or your phone number was missing a digit is incredibly frustrating. To deliver a better experience, validate attendee responses as they’re filling out the form.
  • Ask easy questions first. When you ask attendees to fill out easy questions first (such as their name and email address), you’re essentially making sure they invest time interacting with your registration form. Seeing filled out form fields motivates them to complete the form and hit the Submit button.

Be sure to check out our article The Two Best Event Registration Strategies to determine which method fits your nonprofit organization best!

Be sure to check out our article on 5 Best Practices for Designing High-Converting Event Registration Forms for more tips, examples, and inspiration!

The great thing about collecting attendee information using online event registration software is that you can gain important insight from it. This is why you should go for a tool that lets you export data and track registrations to attendee profiles to get to know your attendees better.

Pro tip: You can get the most out of your online event registration process by using a tool that automatically builds a mailing list as attendees register for your nonprofit organization’s events.

#3: Offer Multiple Types of Tickets

Offering multiple types of tickets is a great way to deliver a better event registration experience. Having the option to pick from a handful of ticket types enables attendees to decide how involved they want to be with the event.

For example, you could offer a general admission ticket to anyone who wants the basic event experience and tickets tied with a fixed donation amount for attendees who’d like to attend the event and make a donation to your cause. If you’re expecting to attract VIPs to your event, you might consider offering a VIP pass for major donors. The VIP pass might include reserved seats, gift bags, and other incentives.

Another benefit of offering multiple types of tickets is that you can gather insight into what sort of an event experience your attendees expect.

Check out our post on How to Set the Right Ticket Price and Maximize Revenue for Your Event for information on how to set ticket prices.

#4: Set Up Multiple Payment Gateways

A huge part of planning events for your nonprofit organization is figuring out a way to accept donations and ticket payments from attendees.

The easier (and secure) you make it, the more likely they will be to donate to your cause and purchase tickets to the event. For this reason, it’s a good idea to integrate multiple payment gateways into your online event registration website.

Giving attendees the option to make payments online is incredibly important. When an attendee purchases a ticket, their payment method is authorized and the funds are loaded into your account right away. So, aside from improving attendees’ experience, it eliminates financial risk on your end.

Event Espresso is online event registration and ticketing software that offers multiple payment gateways out of the box and as premium add-ons.

#5: Simplify the Check-in Process

Checking in attendees on the day of the event is also part of the event registration process. You might consider using event technology to make sure attendees don’t have to wait in long lines.

Event technology takes the heavy lifting out of attendee check-in related activities. For example, if you send attendees printable tickets after they complete their registration form, you can use a barcode scanner or event app on your mobile device to check them in quickly on the day of the event.


By simplifying and streamlining your online event registration process, you’re essentially encouraging attendees to act on your conversion goal whether it’s to purchase tickets to your event, make a donation, or both!

What are some of the ways you streamline online event registration for nonprofit organizations? Let us know in the comments section below!

This post was contributed by Maria Ansari.

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