Nonprofit Event Registration: 5 Tips for Sign-Up Forms

The registration process can be one of the first touchpoints that a supporter has with your organization. In fact, you’re more likely to host a well-attended and effective event if it’s easy for supporters to register. For this reason, you want the sign-up process to be easy and accessible to anyone who has expressed interest in your work. 

If you want to perfect the way that your nonprofit handles events, you might as well start with the first step of the attendee experience: the sign-up. One of the best ways to ensure that your donors will get involved with your events is by offering a seamless registration process. This way, you prevent any additional hurdles between your supporter and your activities. 

For example, according to Regpack, 90% of applicants prefer to register for an event online, so only offering in-person registration might lower your number of attendees. These mistakes are the ones you’ll want to avoid as your event schedule returns to its pre-pandemic level.

To help streamline your registration process, we’ve picked our top 5 tips for sign-up forms so that your donors can easily add their names to your event list. Here are our picks: 

  1. Only ask necessary questions.
  2. Use one or two powerful images.
  3. Optimize your form for mobile.
  4. Make your “submit” button stand out.
  5. Compile reports on attendance data.

Using these 5 tips will help you optimize your registration form for success, ensuring that your organization is off to the right start for this exciting new chapter. With an effective and easy-to-use sign-up form, you can prevent donors from potentially abandoning your event and instead increase your attendance rate.

1. Only ask necessary questions.

These days, it feels like we are filling out all kinds of online forms, so you want to be mindful of your donor’s time when you’re designing your sign-up process and form. Be sure to only ask for necessary information. Simplifying your website and registration form makes it less likely that potential attendees will abandon the form due to a lengthy process. The last thing you want is for a supporter to be interested in your event, only to exit out because the form was too long.

You could try using an online form builder to ensure that you’re getting everything you need without a lot of extra fluff. For example, you should ask for information such as: 

  • Name
  • Contact information 
  • Payment information
  • Dietary restrictions, if you’re offering food

It might seem obvious to only include necessary information, but you might think that some questions are essential when they really aren’t for event registration. You might consider leaving out: 

  • How the donor learned about your event 
  • Questions about the donor’s demographics (age, gender, race, etc.)
  • If the donor has attended one of your events before

If you do want to know this information, try asking at the event or sending a follow-up survey after the event has ended. You could also split your form into multiple pages. However, be sure to keep each page relatively short, as you do not want attendees to abandon your form because the process is tedious.You want to make it as easy as possible for the donor to register and attend your program, which will do more to build a connection than extra information fields. 

Ultimately, you want your form to follow a logical order that is free of unnecessary extra steps. Here’s a bonus tip: use registration software that adapts in real-time as registrants provide information so the supporter doesn’t have to see any irrelevant information. For instance, if your supporter doesn’t have any dietary restrictions, don’t allow the registration form to show them potential allergies.

2. Use one or two powerful images.

Now that you have a streamlined registration form, you might want to add some images to make it more engaging. Visuals make a huge difference in developing your nonprofit into a memorable and engaging brand. However, including too many images can actually distract the potential attendees from completing your form. 

Rather than having several compelling visuals on your registration page, use just one or two eye-catching images. Fewer pictures can help maintain your audience’s engagement levels without being too distracting. 

When choosing your images, you want to be selective. Make sure the images: 

While it may seem contradictory with images, less is more. One striking image can do a lot more than several mediocre ones, and it might even give a potential attendee the final push they need to register for an interesting and socially-beneficial event.

3. Optimize your form for mobile.

Designing your content for mobile use has become more and more important every year. Most people tend to access the Internet from their mobile devices, and engaging with your nonprofit through their phones is no exception. In fact, 360MatchPro found that donors made 33% of their online donation transactions on mobile devices in 2019. 

The frequency with which users engage with your content on their phones means that the mobile version of your website should be aesthetically pleasing and functional. Isn’t it annoying when you try to view a website on your phone, only to find that it’s too zoomed out, too zoomed in, or takes forever to load? By optimizing your website for mobile use, you’re ensuring that your user’s experience will be as satisfactory as possible.

If you’re not sure where to begin with your mobile optimizations, start with these adjustments: 

  • Images and text should modify in proportion to the size of the screen 
  • Forms should still be accessible and easy to fill out 
  • The page should load as fast as possible 

When so much online traffic comes from mobile engagement, it’s important to ensure your event registration page is optimized for phone use. The easier it is for your supporters to sign up, the more likely that they will. 

4. Make your “submit” button stand out.

Your “submit” button is how your donors seal the deal, so you want it to be unique and engaging. Don’t forget to exclude unnecessary or repeated questions to keep your registration form as short as possible. keep your entire registration on a single page, with the “submit” button on the bottom. 

Here are some ways you can make your “submit” button stand out: 

  • Use a bold font 
  • Incorporate striking colors
  • Draw your donors to the “submit” button with a compelling tagline
  • Choose your words wisely — a straightforward call-to-action like “submit” or “register” will be more effective than a longer phrase

You’ll also want to be sure that registrants will receive confirmation that they’ve registered, whether it’s a different page that shows their submitted information, an email confirming their RSVP in their inbox, or both. In this confirmation, you could include pertinent details about the event, such as the location, the time to arrive, or what to bring.

5. Compile reports on attendance data.

With the right event registration technology, you can pull reports that provide valuable information about sign-ups and attendance. This data can give you a better idea of which supporters are involved and which ones aren’t. Now you can strategize different ways to re-engage donors who might have become disconnected from your nonprofit. 

But who’s signing up for your events isn’t the only thing that you can track. You can also collect data about: 

  • Conversion rates on your registration page
  • Attendance rates compared to registrations
  • Registrants who have paid and those who haven’t
  • Attendance trends over time as you host more events

If you want to go above and beyond, you could even try A/B testing to compare the effectiveness of specific portions of your registration page or emails. Doing so might help you determine which strategies work best for your supporters.


With these 5 tips, you can improve your registration process, making it faster for supporters to sign-up and easier for you to manage your events. And although your programming efforts are likely focused on in-person events, all of these tips could still apply to planning virtual events

But here’s a good rule of thumb for any event: always prioritize your supporter’s registration experience. Streamlining the sign-up process is a crucial step in boosting your attendance numbers.

Nonprofit Virtual Event Tips

Nonprofit Virtual Events: 5 Tips You Haven’t Thought of

If you’re like other nonprofits, you’ve probably incorporated virtual events into your organization’s strategy this year. Due to the wide-spread social distancing guidelines, virtual aspects of nonprofits’ strategies have become more prominent and popular throughout the year. While organizations may have been shifting towards more virtual activities anyway, the pandemic guidelines dramatically accelerated the popularity. 

However, because the shift was accelerated so suddenly, many organizations didn’t execute the move to an entirely digitally-focused strategic plan as smoothly as they could’ve done. There were plenty of missed opportunities to get supporters more involved and plenty of room for improvement in future virtual events. 

Whether your nonprofit is planning your first virtual event or you’re just trying to make your next one better than your last, this guide is written for you. 

The way you plan and organize your virtual event is key to gaining traction, getting supporters more involved, raising more funds, and ultimately reaching your goals for the event. In this guide, we’ll cover some tried-and-true tips that you may not have considered when planning your virtual event. Specifically, we’ll cover the following suggestions: 

  1. Decide what you want to accomplish.
  2. Plan ahead and choose a virtual platform. 
  3. Test all of your software. 
  4. Encourage attendees to engage with one another. 
  5. Follow up in a timely manner. 

Ready to get started planning your next event? Let’s dive in. 

1. Decide what you want to accomplish.

When you plan your in-person fundraising events, you expect to accomplish certain goals. Before you start planning, you’d likely decide which of the goals is most important to your organization and make it your main focus for the event. 

Virtual events are the same way! You shouldn’t just throw together a virtual event because it’s what everyone else is doing or because you’ve always had an annual event in the past. Instead, make sure your event has a targeted purpose and that you have effectively planned to see that purpose fulfilled. 

For example, let’s consider a local dog shelter. In the past, they may have hosted an annual adoption event where their main goal is to encourage families to adopt pets. However, secondary goals for the event may have been to raise funds, and increase community awareness. When pivoting to a virtual event, this animal shelter should be sure to keep those same goals in mind and incorporate elements that will accomplish the same purpose. They may: 

  • Include an online adoption board so that virtual attendees can read profiles on the dogs that need to find new homes. They may also host live feeds of puppies playing with one another or push notifications that highlight individual dogs to draw the attention of the audience. This helps fulfill their goal of adoption at the event. 
  • Provide virtual fundraising opportunities. Simply by incorporating a text-to-give platform or an easily accessible online donation page, the dog shelter can easily make fundraising available online. Be sure to set a specific fundraising goal and incorporate a fundraising thermometer to encourage people to give. This helps fulfill the fundraising goal. 
  • Spread the word about the event on various platforms. By marketing the virtual event on social media, on your website, by phone, by word of mouth, and using other communication platforms, the organization can easily tell the community about the event. Without flyers and in-person communication, they should be sure to amp up the virtual marketing to spread awareness. This helps fulfill the goal of increasing community awareness. 

In this example, the dog shelter should ensure they prioritize their goals before diving into how they’ll incorporate them into the virtual event. For your own virtual event, be sure to determine your own goals beforehand, and then prioritize them accordingly. 

Key Takeaway: List out all of the goals and objectives that you want to see from your virtual event, then order them by importance. Your top one will be your main goal for the event, keep this in mind when planning the rest of the event. 

2. Plan ahead and choose a virtual platform.

Now that you’ve identified your primary and secondary goals for your virtual event, it’s time that you brainstorm how you’ll meet those goals. While you should make sure you accomplish the same goals that you would meet at an in-person event, you won’t necessarily accomplish them in the same way. 

Rather, you need to adapt to the virtual environment. Bloomerang’s list of virtual fundraising ideas represents some of the diversity you’ll find in the types of events available to your organization. The type of event you choose to host should reflect your goals for the event and guide the virtual platforms you’ll need. Consider, for instance, the following two organizations: 

A small food bank wants to spread awareness about food insecurity in the community. In order to raise awareness and educate the community about the issues, the food bank decides to host an educational event. They need to invest in registration software so that people can register for the event online. However, they’ll also need video conferencing software for live speeches from experts in the community and forum software to create discussions between attendees. This event will become slightly more complicated and require a number of solutions to accomplish the goals of the food bank. 

A homeless shelter wants to raise funds to purchase clothing for men and women in the community. For this type of virtual event, the goal is a bit easier to achieve with fewer solutions. The shelter might pre-record videos and write social media posts that will display the need in the community. Then, for the duration of the event, they’ll send and post these resources to their supporters. They may also decide to incorporate a product fundraiser where supporters can purchase t-shirts for themselves while simultaneously purchasing one for a homeless man or woman in the community. 

As you’re considering the plans for your event and purchasing the appropriate software to make it happen, be sure to carefully research each solution. The last thing you want is a data breach at your nonprofit

Start your research to choose the best software solutions with resources like software referral lists and reviews to help indicate the top solutions. Be sure to also consider the platform’s other clientele (are there other nonprofits of a similar size and mission?) and what aspects of your goals will be achieved with the investment. 

Key Takeaway: Create plans for your virtual event and identify the software solutions you’ll need to achieve those plans. When you go to invest in new software, look for solutions that combine some of the tools that you (or integrate with one another) need so that you can streamline event activities and collection of event data. 

3. Test all of your software. 

Before the event begins, your nonprofit should make sure that everything works seamlessly for your attendees. Once you’ve found the best solutions, you should test them multiple times to ensure they’ll work the day of the event. 

Run through the event activities yourself and make sure everything is functional. Look specifically to make sure that: 

  • Payment processing is functional for ticketing, donating, and purchasing merchandise items. 
  • All transitions from one event activity to another are intuitive and easily recognizable by event attendees. 
  • Forum discussions and questions are available to attendees and notifications are functional. 
  • Live streaming visuals are high quality and the sound is functional. 

After you’ve tested your software yourself, ask a third-party (volunteer or co-worker) to also run through and test it. They’ll be able to identify comprehension issues that you might overlook and identify opportunities to make the event more intuitive. 

Key Takeaway: Act like an event participant and walk through each step of the event. Purchase a ticket, donate a dollar, post to discussion boards, and watch the various video collateral. Then, ask someone else to do the same thing before the event starts. Be sure to also create a contingency plan for if something becomes dysfunctional during the event itself.

4. Encourage attendees to engage with one another. 

During in-person events, supporters and attendees are able to mingle amongst themselves. They may discuss the event, your organization, or otherwise develop connections that help create an aspect of community within your organization’s support base. 

To encourage this networking and mingling at your virtual event, you need to create and encourage opportunities where attendees can communicate and engage with one another. For example, you might decide to: 

  • Enable chat functionality. Ask questions that will lead to effective discussion between attendees. For instance, you might make a statement then ask if they agree or disagree and why. Try gamifying these opportunities to encourage more people to participate. You might offer bronze, silver, and gold virtual badges depending on the number of times an attendee posts to discussion forums. 
  • Encourage breakout sessions. After informational sessions or educational videos, encourage attendees to join breakout groups where they have a list of set discussion questions that they can use to guide conversation. This encourages interaction between supporters and continuous engagement throughout the event itself.
  • Create social media groups. Social media is a resource that almost everyone can use to network because almost everyone has an account! Encourage attendees to join a Facebook group where they’re allowed to ask questions, share insights, and otherwise connect with one another. 

Consider a virtual gala as an example. In an in-person gala event, the mingling tends to happen at different tables while there might be an ongoing auction in the background. Similarly, you can host a virtual silent auction in the background of an online gala, but you’ll need some specialized tools to do so. 

According to Snowball’s virtual auction guide, it’s challenging to keep supporters engaged if they’re simultaneously checking their item bids and listening to your keynote speaker. To combat this, consider enabling bidding notifications so that supporters always know when they’re outbid. This allows them to pay attention to speakers and other event activities. 

Key Takeaway: Consider your own virtual event plans. Is there a natural place to incorporate community interaction? Ask yourself, “as an attendee, how would I want to get in touch with others?” Then, incorporate those opportunities in your own virtual event plans. 

5. Follow up in a timely manner. 

This tip is probably one that you’ve heard before. It’s a vital step when it comes to any nonprofit event plans, especially when you plan or pivot for the virtual sphere. A timely follow-up is key if you want to express appreciation for the attendee’s participation and invite them to continue engaging with your mission.

When you follow up after a virtual event, get the most out of it! Your supporters are probably expecting a thank-you, but they may also be open to other ways to get involved after having a wonderful time at your event. Try incorporating strategies like: 

  • Specifically explaining the impact they had at the event. You might say, “The For-the-Kids virtual event raised over $100,000 this year! Your donation of $100 was key to help us achieve this goal, which will provide medical resources for over 500 kids in the community.” Impact statements like this will help your organization put the thank-you in terms of what has been accomplished. 
  • Provide social media calls-to-action or email subscription options. After sharing their impact, simply ask your event attendees to continue following the story of your organization by keeping in contact with you. This allows them to see any upcoming opportunities you provide and allows them to continue direct interaction with your organization after they receive the email follow-up. 
  • Ask for feedback on the virtual event itself. You will probably need to plan another virtual event in the near future. Therefore, make sure your event planning process is as effective as possible by optimizing it based on the feedback provided by supporters. Send out a short survey to the attendees at your event asking them how they enjoyed the opportunity and if they have any recommendations to make it better in the future. This can also help you determine if the tools and virtual solutions you invested in are doing their job. It also allows your most engaged supporters to make themselves apparent.

By providing an immediate action that your supporters can take after the event, it ensures their engagement with your organization doesn’t end with the event itself. Use your follow-up message as an opportunity to say “thank you” and to further engagement with your supporters. 

Key Takeaway: Draft your follow-up message for your attendees and be sure to encourage them to continue engaging with your mission after the event ends. 


Virtual events are the new norm in the nonprofit world of today. By planning effectively and providing plenty of opportunity for engagement, your organization will be able to reach all of your goals effectively. 

Incorporate these tips into your event planning now. In the future, virtual events won’t go away. Be sure you have the best steps to plan and execute these events so that you can use them both during the pandemic and beyond.

This article was contributed by our friends at Bloomerang.

Author: Steven Shattuck
Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang

This article was contributed by Steven Shattuck, chief engagement officer at Bloomerang.

Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to “Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition” and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member.

4 Strategies for Smarter Virtual Fundraising in 2021

This year, the term “virtual fundraising” became a hot topic for nonprofit professionals everywhere. While online giving was on the rise even before 2020, it wasn’t until this year that virtual fundraising became the rule rather than the exception.

Since stay-at-home orders were first put in place, your team has likely learned a lot about how to pursue your mission in a remote landscape. Your team has launched virtual events, engaged with donors online, and continued to raise needed funds.

But in some cases, it’s possible that you’re relying on band aid fixes or a disconnected network of tools that you’re already starting to outgrow. As we approach a new year, it’s a good opportunity to revisit your virtual fundraising strategy and make improvements.  

To reach your online fundraising goals in 2021, your nonprofit must leverage powerful tools and engagement data throughout every aspect of your strategy. 

At SalsaLabs, we empower nonprofit professionals with software solutions for smarter fundraising, data management, and donor engagement. Based on some of the strategies we’ve seen work well throughout the challenges of COVID-19, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations to elevate your upcoming fundraising efforts:

  1. Use data to better inform your campaigns.
  2. Send targeted communications to supporters.
  3. Utilize marketing automation tools.
  4. Choose unified CRM and fundraising software.

Just because 2020 is almost over doesn’t mean the need for virtual fundraising is going anywhere. Even once in-person interactions are safe again, nonprofits will likely continue to employ virtual engagement tactics because they are so cost-effective, efficient, and widely accessible to supporters. 

With all of these potential benefits, it’s clear why your virtual fundraising strategy needs to be in tip-top shape. Now, let’s dive into how you can make those improvements.

1. Use data to better inform your campaigns.

At the heart of any successful fundraising campaign should be a strong understanding of two main things: your supporters and your past campaigns. 

When you capture, record, and use this relevant and highly informative data, you’ll be better able to plan and execute any fundraiser.

This way, you can make plans based on real knowledge of what will resonate with your supporters rather than on assumptions. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of stereotypes like “older supporters don’t understand social media” and “Millennials can’t stand phone calls,” but these cliches don’t reflect the uniqueness of your supporter base. 

Analyze your existing supporter data and past campaign information to consider questions such as:

  • What types of marketing tend to lead to more first-time engagements? For instance, are you more likely to get more new donors via Google ads or social media?
  • What leads to the highest engagement among your existing supporters?
  • In which ways do your donors prefer to give?
  • When is the best time to send emails or post on social media?

To know the answers to these questions, you need to be recording various metrics-based goals like click-through rate, dollars donated, number of new supporters, and more. When possible, try to track these metrics for different groups of supporters, such as by age group. This will help you determine how, when, and where to tell your story in a way that will resonate most effectively with your target audience.

According to AccuData’s guide to data marketing, data-driven campaigns have up to 5 times the ROI, so this practice is sure to pay off with more revenue for your mission. 

2. Send targeted communications to supporters.

The ability to quickly send a generic email to a mass amount of subscribers is both the beauty and downfall of email.

We’ve likely all received the standard “Dear friend” end-of-year email from a nonprofit. With a line like, “Whether you volunteered with us, donated, or attended an event, we’re grateful for your support,” it’s clear that the organization has no clue who is on the receiving end of the message! This kind of mass email is better than no thank-you at all, but it misses a valuable opportunity to connect more deeply with recipients.

Instead, with segmentation and personalization technology, you’ll be able to send emails that are more relevant and impactful to groups and individuals.

First, creating segments of supporters allows you to address groups based on a particular characteristic. You might choose to create segments based on the following criteria:

  • Engagement type (donor, volunteer, event attendee, peer-to-peer fundraiser)
  • Donation type (major donor, recurring, first-time, year-end)
  • Demographic characteristics (age ranges, location-based, income levels)
  • Interests (loves animals, interest in politics)

These are just a few examples to get you started. You can also create a custom segment based on criteria relevant to your nonprofit. For example, if you work at an animal shelter, you may consider creating segments for whether your supporters are cat people or dog people. Then, when you send your appeal emails, you’ll be able to tug at their heartstrings with the right kind of ask. 

In addition to sending emails that are tailored to different groups, you can also customize the content of the email to each individual. Some email marketing platforms allow you to use data fields to automatically pull data from your CRM and incorporate it into your outgoing emails. 

You could incorporate personalization into your email communications through the following strategies:

  • Tailoring the donation request. Use past data like a recent gift and wealth information to inform your next suggested gift amount. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more prevalent in donation software and can also automate the task of creating smart ask amounts for your appeals.
  • Using personalized data. Incorporating the supporter’s name, previous gifts or actions, or other details for a personal touch.

Studies have shown that segmentation and personalization can lead to a 760% increase in revenue for email marketers. To take advantage of this, be sure to find an email marketing platform that integrates seamlessly with your donor database.

3. Utilize marketing automation tools.

Once you have an informed, segmented marketing strategy in place, you can rely on automation tools to efficiently drive your efforts forward.

While automation won’t independently drive your marketing strategy to success, it can help to streamline your approach and save time for your team. Automation allows you to reach the right supporter, at the right time, with the right message—without anyone needing to hover over the send button.

Marketing automation is particularly helpful for moving a supporter through a dedicated email pipeline towards a target action (often called a drip email campaign). To give you a better understanding of how this might work at your nonprofit, let’s consider the following two example scenarios.

  1. Sarah signs up for your nonprofit’s newsletter. Over the coming weeks, she receives a “Welcome” series of emails at a pre-specified cadence that include information about your work and mission. The emails stop when Sarah completes the target action of making a donation.
  2. Jackson makes a first-time donation through your online giving page. Your matching gift software finds Jackson’s employer on a list of companies. Jackson receives a series of emails explaining how and why to submit a matching gift request, which stop when the match is secured.

While these target actions are both revenue-based, you can use marketing automation to promote any kind of engagement. For instance, you may want to encourage volunteer sign-ups or advertise registration for your upcoming virtual event.

For nonprofits, automation helps decrease staff time spent on marketing tasks and increases your team’s overall efficiency. Using your limited resources wisely can make a big difference in the success of your campaigns.

4. Choose unified CRM and fundraising software.

While all of the above strategies are helpful, they may be challenging or even impossible without the right technology on your side.

For the most successful virtual fundraising, you’ll want to implement software solutions that integrate with your CRM. You can also opt for a fundraising and CRM suite like Salsa’s donor management software and engagement platform that are built to function together. 

Without a connected system, you may have to rely on manual data entry or spreadsheet imports. Not only does this eat up a lot of valuable time, but it also opens the door for costly errors or omissions. 

Instead, a unified system allows you to trust that all of your supporter interactions and other data are in one place. The ability to see a big-picture overview will help your nonprofit learn more about its supporters, increase engagement, and raise more from your community.

A comprehensive tech stack will transform your virtual fundraising efforts across the board, but to demonstrate just one area of impact, we’ll explore the potential benefits for a peer-to-peer fundraiser. A comprehensive suite of nonprofit tech can:

  • Identify highly-engaged supporters, long-time donors and ambassadors, and invite them to participate with personalized outreach.
  • Send automated coaching emails to targeted groups of participants based on real-time fundraising progress.
  • Sync participant data with existing supporter records in your CRM. 
  • Follow up with new donors to share your gratitude and introduce them to your cause.

As this guide to peer-to-peer fundraising explains, it’s especially helpful to have easy access to performance data while the campaign is occurring. This way, you’ll be able to discover insights on the fly and make changes as needed, rather than having to wait for your next fundraiser. 

While some of these benefits are unique to peer-to-peer fundraising, the advantages of a unified CRM system are applicable to any of your virtual fundraising efforts.


As we move into 2021, nonprofits will continue to rely on virtual fundraising to pursue their missions safely and efficiently. As you prepare next year’s campaigns, make sure you’re relying on data, sending effective and tailored communications, and using a comprehensive and well-integrated database. By following these recommendations, you’ll be prepared to launch your best virtual campaign yet. Good luck!


This guest post was contributed by Hayley Roll, Marketing Analyst at Salsa Labs.

Promoting Your Virtual Volunteer Opportunities: 4 Pro Tips

With people and organizations moving to the virtual landscape in the COVID era, there are new ways to empower and engage your supporters. Whether you’re looking to increase virtual event attendance or expand your volunteer base, developing a volunteer management strategy tailored to attracting online engagement is crucial.

In the digital age, effectively promoting your virtual fundraising opportunities is essential for mobilizing people to support your organization’s mission. 

Effectively managing your volunteers has a beneficial payoff for your organization. With a well-planned strategy comes increased engagement, meaningful relationships with your volunteers and community, and boosts to revenue over time. Plus, developing a strong plan will save your team time and expand your events’ turnout. 

Surprisingly, many growing organizations neglect developing a concrete promotional strategy for their volunteer programming. This component is often overlooked due to other priorities taking precedence. Some consider it to take too much time to address, or sometimes volunteer management is an issue not yet on their radar. However, remember that your organization can get ahead and grow your impact by making effective volunteer engagement and management a point of focus. 

Because virtual volunteering is at the forefront of an organization’s recruitment strategies and has staying power, it is a worthwhile endeavor. Digital platforms reach a broad audience regardless of location and can exponentially grow your organization’s reach. However, effectively promoting these opportunities is the challenge, as virtual volunteer involvement is still new for many supporters. 

Here’s what to consider when forming your strategy for promoting volunteer opportunities:

  • Using dedicated volunteer management software.
  • Tapping into the power of peer-to-peer recruiting.
  • Taking a targeted approach to marketing.
  • Promoting new ways for volunteers to grow their impact. 

This year, aim to seek out new ways for your organization to stand out online. Promote your organization’s opportunities strategically while forming meaningful connections with those who support you. Here’s how to promote your nonprofit’s virtual volunteering opportunities to your online audience of supporters. 

Use dedicated volunteer management software.

Anchoring your recruitment efforts with dedicated volunteer management software is a crucial aspect of your growth in the digital age. This software simplifies the management of those who volunteer with and support your mission. It will also provide invaluable data by tracking volunteer engagement. 

With this information, it’ll be easier to refine your marketing strategies over time by showing you what does and doesn’t work to attract and engage new volunteers. The long-term value of investing in management software is beneficial as it helps your organization increase volunteer engagement and retention to better support your cause.

For example, tracking engagement data can help you discover:

  • Which marketing outlets most effectively attract volunteers
  • Trends in volunteer feedback
  • Common characteristics of your most engaged volunteers

With these crucial metrics at your fingertips, your organization has untapped growth potential. Reading into trends and understanding behaviors will help you place your promotional efforts in the right place at the right time.

For instance, if you find that social media is your most effective source for volunteers for a particular type of virtual volunteer opportunity, you can anchor your future outreach strategies with social media. Or, if you find that volunteer sign-ups dropped for a recent event or campaign, you can look back to your marketing strategies to see exactly where your promotional efforts underperformed.

Tap into the power of peer-to-peer recruiting.

Your current volunteers are some of your most valuable assets when it comes to recruiting new volunteers. Provide them with the right tools to recruit volunteers to support your cause! Whether it’s on-the-ground or virtual support, every member is a crucial part of your organization and can act as a powerful ambassador when equipped for the job.

An effective way to gain traction with potential volunteers is through digital communication. This can take many forms on a variety of platforms. Encourage your volunteers to actively share their experiences on their social media platforms and by digital word of mouth; texting.

You want to ensure that your volunteers provide valid links to connect potential supporters with your online pages. Volunteer opportunity networks (like Mobilize) also help with this task too. It provides your volunteers with easy social share buttons and copy-and-paste codes to share via text or email. 

Be sure to include your organization’s social media handles as a point of contact, as well. Here, you might offer a range of engaging content:

  • Testimonials and stories from past volunteers
  • Impact reports and photos or videos of previous volunteer events
  • Volunteer shout-outs
  • The general buzz and conversation around your mission and work

Through social media, potential volunteers can get an accurate and immersive look into what it would be like to volunteer for your organization. Be sure to work these into your broader social media strategies to see the best results over time.

Finally, thank your volunteers for spreading the word. People respond well to appreciation and will be compelled to keep recruiting on your behalf. This directory of thank-you templates from Good United is a handy resource to get started. 

Take a targeted approach to marketing.

In the last year, marketing communication has shifted largely online, especially with people working from home. This sudden change forces nonprofits to rethink communication strategies, especially their approaches to marketing their events and efforts to their volunteers. 

Just as your organization has altered its strategy for communicating with employees internally, make sure your external communication to volunteers is also following today’s best practices. To stand out in a crowded online space, targeting your message specifically to them will be your best bet.

Start by refining your email strategies. With email being a cornerstone of digital communication, messages that seem irrelevant or spammy are much more likely to get ignored by your volunteers. Combat this by keeping your end-user in mind. Write your subject lines and openers to acknowledge that they’re people behind the screens, too. Rather than blasting general announcements about new opportunities to all of your supporters, take a more targeted approach when possible. 

There are helpful resources to refer to for tactful audience-centric messaging. This will help make your messages more effective and prevent them from feeling like generic or irrelevant appeals for support. 

These emails can be personalized by direct your users to the most relevant opportunities based on what you already know about them. An example of this could be tracking which types of opportunities a volunteer has engaged with in the past to promote specific future opportunities to them. This will further enhance their relationship with that supporter and encourage them to continue to support your cause.

This messaging practice can further be used to encourage non-volunteers to get involved. When someone donates to a particular campaign, consider how that campaign’s specific messaging and goals motivated them to give. What action words and attention grabbers did they use to reach the end goal of the user donating? Use those insights to determine which types of volunteer opportunities and messaging tactics will be most appealing to them.

Promote new ways for volunteers to grow their impact.

Giving current volunteers ways to grow their impact on your mission is another vital part of effective long-term volunteer management. When you’ve built strategies to retain volunteers over the long haul, also use them to attract new supporters. Beyond expanding your volunteer base, find creative ways to expand their opportunities with your organization. An investment in their engagement is a powerful motivator.

When you expand opportunities for your volunteers, it can look like a variety of methods. For example, you can provide current and potential volunteers with opportunities like:

  • Volunteer grants that can help them boost their impact on your mission through matched donations from their employers.
  • Training programs and additional development opportunities to learn new skills related to your work.
  • Special membership perks for stand-out members, such as long-term volunteers, and those who are proactive in recruiting new volunteers.

By offering ways for volunteers to grow their impact over time, you essentially give them a reason to stick around. In addition to simply offering a range of different volunteering opportunities, Tactics like these are key to engage and retain supporters over the long run, which is itself one of the best ways to market your programming to potential volunteers.

With new and effective methods to promote your organization’s virtual volunteer opportunities, you can grow your reach and impact. Digital platforms have taken precedent with volunteers and organizations alike to recruit, retain, and motivate volunteers. 


It’s crucial to remain at the forefront of effective volunteer management strategies. If strategic volunteer management is a new undertaking for your organization, brush up with Mobilize’s complete guide, which walks through even more marketing and recruiting tips.

Regardless of the exact tactics you roll out, the main idea is to come up with the best ways to effectively inform others of your opportunities, as you want to expand your reach as much as possible. Your organization’s online presence has the potential to reach a broad audience regardless of location. Your impact can grow in exponential ways as you deepen relationships with your supporters. 

Creating your strategy is as simple as using the right volunteer management software to expand your organization’s mission’s reach and impact. Be sure to supplement it with peer-to-peer recruiting and targeted messages. 

With the new year, there is ample opportunity for creative and practical ideas to bolster your digital presence. With this, your organization’s volunteer base will expand and further the impact you have in your community.

The Power of Special Event Taglines – Enter Yours Today

Welcome back to guest blogger Tamara Mendelsohn, Director of Marketing for Eventbrite for Causes, a sponsor of the Nonprofit Tagline Awards (a.k.a., The Taggies). Tamara focuses day in and day out on making events more productive for nonprofits and has a valuable recommendation to share…

This year, the Taggies have added a category for special event taglines. If you’re reading this, you already know that a live event represents a unique fundraising and awareness opportunity. But you may not be aware of what event taglines can do for your cause.

Here are 5 reasons special event taglines are so helpful:

  • They set your event apart from similar events – Attendees have a limited amount of time and resources for events. Imagine they’re picking between two great benefit concerts, one clearly branded with a tagline and one without. Which one do you think they’re more likely to remember, spread the word on and more likely to attend?
  • They make it easy for attendees to become your best marketers – For attendees to convince their social networks to join them at an event, they need to be able to explain why it will be great. By creating a potent tagline, you’re doing much of that work for them.
  • They’re built for social media – A great special event tagline is a snap for attendees to drop into the small text spaces of Twitter and Facebook. And drop again. And again.
  • They promote repeat attendance – Even a great event can fade from attendees’ memories if it lacks a distinctive identity. A strong tagline makes your event unforgettable, and can give it a permanent place on attendees’ monthly or yearly calendars.
  • They’re fun – A little humor, even a well-placed pun, communicates to attendees that you know how to show them a great time. And—especially since many organizations are raising money for quite serious causes—it’s key to remind them that your event is a gathering they’ll enjoy and feel good about.

Two Don’t-Miss Tools for More Effective Nonprofit Events

In a time when we rely more and more on virtual interaction, face-to-face gatherings are more important than ever.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big believer in building relationships, and community online. But face-to-face can’t be replaced. So often, face-to-face gatherings can bring a movement or a campaign to the next level, further engaging your base.

Here are two tools I’ve discovered that will help you take your organization’s events to the next level.

1. Event-management service Eventbrite has just introduced Eventbrite for Causes, a discounted program (no fee for free events) are  designed for nonprofit needs. This new program that makes it easier for
orgs to leverage tech tools and best practices to manage,
promote and raise money through successful events. In talking to colleagues about Eventbrite, I’ve found several fans of its capabilities such as the once-click opportunity for attendees to share event info with their Twitter and Facebook networks.

Current org users include The Craigslist Foundation, Full Circle Fund, Citizen Effect and NTEN.

2. Analyze This, just released by Event 360 is 18 pages packed with practical guide on event analytics. You’ll learn how to pinpoint what’s working best so you can do more of it in the future, and what’s not working well, so they can avoid it down the line. Traditionally, event managers have used this data to review events once they’re over; it’s even more valuable to shape those coming up.

The featured case study on the Komen Global Race for the Cure is particularly useful, as it highlights how analytics showed the way to transform a popular event into a fundraising phenomenon.

P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations, campaigns and events. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Photo: OneWoman