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Running a non-profit organization can mean you have few resources and a focus on fundraising. If that sounds familiar, you might be wondering how you can provide supporters with more opportunities for engagement with your organization.
Fortunately, just about any website can support event promotion. Your site can easily be a place for patrons to get information and stay in the loop about your organization’s happenings. Also, as a nonprofit entity, you can often find website hosting discounts or funding assistance for projects if budgets are a concern.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of having a dedicated website for your organization. We’ll also discuss how to get started with an event registration plugin for nonprofits, in order to promote your events online. Let’s dive right in!
Why Your Nonprofit Organization Should Include Events and Event Registrations on Your Website
It’s no surprise that if you work in the nonprofit sphere, you probably think about fundraising a lot. Whether it’s writing grants or planning your next event, generating support and donations can be vital to your organization’s sustainability.
An ever-growing number of technologies are available that can be used to bolster your funding efforts. In particular, websites can easily serve as your primary source of online donations. Leveraging the reach and flexibility of a dedicated site enables you to use several different kinds of technology, all in one place.
Specifically, there are a few ways you can use your website to support your organization, including:
- Gathering subscriber information for future outreach
- Offering a membership option for renewable donations
- Promoting events for your organization
While all of these are great ideas, let’s talk about events more in-depth. Whether they are virtual or live, events are excellent ways to build a community around your nonprofit organization’s mission. Events bring people together to support your cause, and can help you raise money in the process.
In fact, membership giving and ticket sales for events made up the bulk of all online giving over the past two years. It’s also interesting to note that, while online charitable giving was down overall in 2018, donations as a result of email messaging held a steady 13 percent of that pie. This means your website can play an important role in gathering vital email information from potential attendees and donors.
If that all seems overwhelming, don’t worry. There are ways to easily promote events and manage attendee information on your website by using specific tools. We’ll cover how to get started in a moment, but first let’s talk about what you’ll need to have on hand.
What You Need to Build an Effective Website for Your Nonprofit Organization
Building a website for a nonprofit organization is similar to creating any site, at least up to a certain point. There are a few exceptions and considerations you’ll need to keep in mind, however, that are more unique to these kinds of organizations.
First and foremost, we recommend using WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS). This is due to its flexibility, easy-to-use interface, and excellent support community. Plus, it’s free!
However, before you get started you’ll want to run through a quick checklist of items to help you start down the right track, including:
- Choosing a quality website hosting service.
- Reviewing and selecting a suitable theme.
- Strategizing and scheduling compelling content.
- Keeping your website current with frequent updates.
- Avoiding downtime or problems by partnering with a WordPress maintenance service.
As a nonprofit organization, you’ll likely want to make sure you’re providing certain information on your website as well. This might include the dates and times of upcoming board meetings, member information, financial statements, and so on.
Once you have your WordPress website all set up, then you can get started on the next task to add an online event registration solution to your site. Keep reading to learn more!
Event Registration Plugins for WordPress
It’s possible to build a simple events-focused website using only WordPress. However, the platform’s base functionality doesn’t offer many of the features you’ll probably want, such as an interactive events calendar and integration with various payment processors.
This means that if you want a fully-functional site to promote your events, you’ll need to take one of two approaches. You can hire a developer to create everything from scratch, which is time-consuming and expensive. Alternately, you can pick up a dedicated plugin that will add the functionality you need.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free and premium WordPress event plugins to choose from. A few examples include:
The Events Calendar
If all you’re looking for is a flexible calendar to display your events, this plugin can get the job done. It’s highly-customizable, and comes in both a free and a premium version.
WP Event Manager
This plugin is a handy choice if you want a lightweight option that lets you set up event listings quickly and easily. You’ll be able to create user-friendly and well-organized listings, so visitors can find what they’re looking for. The base plugin is free, but there are premium add-ons that offer additional features (such as an events calendar and Google Maps integration).
For those in search of a fully-featured events management solution, Event Espresso is a solid pick. You can create and list events, display sign-up forms, sell tickets and registrations, and accept payments online. There’s also a premium version of the plugin that includes an event calendar, additional payment gateways, and even a check-in feature for managing the events themselves.
It’s important to do your research at this stage, and explore each option carefully. Look for a plugin that has all the features you need, as well as excellent user reviews and reliable support. Once you’ve settled on an events plugin, you’ll be ready to get started.
How to Set Up Events on Your Website (In 5 Easy Steps)
With all of the above in mind, you’re ready to set up events on your website with the help of a WordPress plugin. The process will differ somewhat depending on your chosen solution.
As an example, we’ll walk through how this works using the Event Espresso plugin, since it’s both easy to learn and robust in features. You can download this plugin as a free ‘decaf’ version from the WordPress Plugin Directory, or pick up a premium license – either version will work for the following process.
Step 1: Download and Install Event Espresso
To get started, you’ll need to download and install the plugin. You can find it by going to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard. From there, you’ll search for Event Espresso and click on Install Now once you’ve located it:
Once the plugin is installed, you’ll need to select Activate in order to complete the process.
It’s important to note that there are a number of items worth setting up before you begin creating events with this plugin. These include time zones, venues, payment information, and more. Having the right settings in place ahead of time means you’ll be able to set up events on the fly, as and when they’re needed.
Step 2: Create a New Event
After installing and configuring the plugin, you’ll have a new Event Espresso option in your main WordPress menu. From there, you’ll be able to manage all aspects of your events. To create a new event, navigate to Event Espresso > Events
From there, you can click on Add New Event to begin filling in the details. If you’re familiar with creating posts in WordPress, this edit page will look pretty familiar to you:
Event Espresso leverages all the easy-to-use features of WordPress, but brings specific event functionality to the table as well. For example, you’ll notice helpful icons and color-coding throughout the interface. This will help you quickly see what the status of your events and registrations are.
Step 3: Configure Your Event Settings
Once you’ve written out the description of your event, you can scroll down and fill in other details. You’ll have options for dates, times, venues, and more.
Additionally, you can create your own custom fields within the event edit page. You’ll need to be somewhat familiar with how these work within WordPress and your theme. Essentially, this is a way to provide deeper metadata to your event listings, which can be helpful if you want search engines to find your events.
Successfully implementing custom fields does require that you make some adjustments to your website’s theme by adding custom hooks. For example, you can use this process to make a sponsor list automatically appear on your event posts.
Another configuration option for your event includes creating custom question sets for attendees to answer when registering. You can choose from some general, ready-to-use sets, or create your own ahead of time and choose from those.
Along the same lines, there are some other items that can be created in advance and stored for later use. Venue information is one example, since you can use the Venue Manager to create a database of useful information. Your data will then be available whenever you’re creating an event, and can be easily added to the event display.
Step 4: Create Your Event Registration Form
Now, let’s take a closer look at the event registration form. Collecting the information you need most from attendees is an important step. You’ll want to make sure you have spellings and names correct, for example, in case you need to print name tags or thank-you cards.
First, you’ll need to navigate to Event Espresso > Management > Registration Form:
Here, you’ll see some common pre-loaded questions. These are the default questions that will ask a user at a minimum to input a name and email address.
In order to create custom questions to add to your registration form, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version of the plugin. Then, this tab will give you greater control and flexibility over your question sets. Once created, you’ll be able to easily add any of your custom “Question Groups” easily to any event from the event edit screen.
Step 5: Submit and Promote Your New Event
Once you’re all done customizing your event’s details, you’ll want to select Publish in the top-right corner of your editing screen. After you publish your event, you’ll be able to see what it looks like in your theme. Our example shows a condensed version of the event information, with an option to show more details:
Selecting the show details option will reveal important information about the event, such as dates and the number of tickets still available. Users can then select the amount of tickets they would like to purchase, and click on Register Now to fill in their registration information and complete the checkout process:
Now that you’ve set up your event, there are a few ways to promote it online. For instance, Event Espresso provides an embeddable iFrame code on the Events dashboard page:
This will enable you to easily embed a list of your upcoming events on other pages or websites. Additionally, there are many premium add-ons available for this plugin that make it easy to share your events on social media.
Ultimately, creating a dedicated website for your nonprofit organization can open up new avenues for fundraising and event promotion. Additionally, you can create engaging ways for your supporters to stay involved and communicate with you.
Creating an event on your website with an event registration plugin for nonprofits is simple if you remember these five steps:
- Install Event Espresso
- Create a new event
- Configure your event settings
- Create your event registration form
- Submit and promote your event
If you’re concerned about managing the updates necessary to keep your nonprofit website running smoothly, we’re here to help. WPDandy offers professional WordPress support by phone and email. Additionally, we can take care of your website’s security, plugin updates, and more. Check out our flexible pricing tiers and services!