Introducing Online Giving Doubles Fundraising Income

July 18th, 2017

quoteHosting a Walk for Life in our community wasn’t newwe’d been doing it for over 20 years. But after an event training, we decided to implement an online fundraising tool.

We put the Walk online using Ministry Sync. It was well worth the investment cost!

Our Walk income more than doubled — thanks in part to FundEasy.

Walkers love having their own page with easy fundraising options; we love online registration and having our Walk data in one organized, easy-to-access place.  Win, win, win!

Thanks MinistrySync!

Laura Sporre, Walk Coordinator
Ladysmith, Wisconsin
Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of NW WI Inc.

 

peer-to-peer-fundraisingThank you, Laura, for sharing your story.

This is one example as to how having an online registration process can increase giving dramatically.

According to the Blackbaud Index, a source for charitable and online giving trends, as of May 2017, overall giving is up 4.8% for non-profits. Online giving, however, is up 9.8% with nearly 1/3 of online giving going to peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising events such as walks, 5Ks, and campaigns.

If you haven’t introduced online fundraising pages for your Walk participants, now is the time. Schedule a demo today and see how FundEasy can help in your next P2P fundraiser.

 

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 

Young Life & Ministry Sync

July 12th, 2017

YL

We have had the extreme pleasure of partnering with various ministries as they spread the Word of God all over the world. Young Life has been one of those ministries for nearly a decade. With 7,300 ministries in more than 100 countries and all 50 states, Young Life leaders make an impact on the lives of more than 2.1 million kids each year.

Their mission: Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.

They have been working hard.

Each year, Young Life debuts a new banquet theme for use among their area offices. This theme comes complete with graphics to use for fundraising events. The Service Center at Young Life works directly with Ministry Sync to ensure a high-quality marketing banner that works seamlessly within AttendEasy.

When a Young Life area uses a current or past theme for their banquet, Ministry Sync already is equipped with the marketing pieces we require for a fast and easy setup, making the event management side of things even easier.

Since 2008, we have helped Young Life manage nearly 1,000 events in more than 240 areas of the world, including Hong Kong and Singapore.

It is partnerships like this that encourage us each day. How wonderful it is to witness God’s works all over the world.

We appreciate the opportunity to partner with ministries to help advance their mission. If you are a part of a ministry and want to learn more about what Ministry Sync can do for you, contact us today.

 

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 

Is Event Branding Really Important?

July 10th, 2017

In a word, yes.

Consistent marketing increases the professionalism of your eventfrom the invitation to your online registration, a sharp look can encourage high-end partners to attend your event.

When you repeatedly use the same event graphic, people recognize it and understand what they are seeing immediately without the need to seek out further information.

Let me be blunt: People don’t read as much as we’d like them to.

That’s why it is so important to create an event graphic that provides all the key details with a quick glance.

Just look at these two sample designs from Keener Marketing for a Walk-4-Life and a Banquet:

keener-walk

Notice the same branding across all the designs. When is this event? Who’s hosting? All the key details are incorporated into all the appropriate pieces.

keener-banquet

 

Both our products, AttendEasy and FundEasy, encourage the use of event branding. As part of our “Events Made Easy” promise to you, our event templates are customizable to complement your event branding. We provide a place for you to upload your event graphics for a seamless transition from your organization’s website to the online registration site. All emails and follow-ups will also include your custom colors and graphics for easy recognition.

Now, when someone goes to register for your event, they are confident that they are registering for YOUR event because the graphics match the invitation they received in the mail, which matches your event page online, which matches your follow-up email confirmation.

We even go a step further.

Our software allows the event graphics you upload to be used in your Facebook posts with a click of the mouse in order to help promote your event even more without the need to upload to a separate site.

So, what should your banner graphic include?

  • Name of your event
  • Date of your event
  • Your name or logo
  • An eye-catching graphic matching your theme/purpose
  • [online] Link to your website for more information

And don’t worry, if you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, we have a great partnership with Keener Marketing and they can create a custom banner for your event for just $40.

Delving into the world of event marketing may seem like a lot, but honestly, once you have your theme, most other pieces simply fall into place. You just need to know the sizes!

Here are the dimensions needed by us for your upcoming fundraising event. 

Happy planning!

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 

A Trick to Find Anyone in your Event

June 20th, 2017

Do you know the trick to finding virtually any word on a page? Like a walker name in your column browser, or a particular guest’s name in your all members list?

There is a very simple shortcut to help you find any name in AttendEasy, FundEasy, and heck, pretty much any page on your computer!

So what is this magical trick?

Ctrl+F. Yes, that’s it: Ctrl+F. Simple, right?

ctrl-f

Control-F (or Command-F) gives you the ability to look for–or find–a word somewhere on a page, any page!

When you click Ctrl+F, a small “find” box will pop up somewhere in your browser where you can type in the exact word or phrase you are looking for. Click “enter” and your word or phrase will be highlighted on the page andif it’s outside the current screenthe page will jump to where the word is located.

 

ctrl-f-ssV2

If the name or phrase exists more than once on the page as in the above sample, you can then either click the down arrow in the find box, click “enter” or click Ctrl+G to move on to the “next” match.

This keyboard shortcut works in all web browsers and for other documents too! (Think PDF, Excel or Word for example.)

So, next time you’re searching for a specific name within your event, remember Ctrl+F and save yourself a lot of time.

And for us Mac users, Cmd+F works exactly the same way 😉

Enjoy!

 

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 

P.S. Keyboard shortcuts save a TON of time as it eliminates the use of a mouse. From copying & pasting, to finding items on a page, to quitting programs, you’ll be amazed as to how much faster you can work. For a list of Windows Shortcuts, click here. Mac users, here’s your list.

No More Registration Struggles

June 8th, 2017

quoteBefore Ministry Sync, we really struggled with registration.

Our event is normally three nights, and in 2016 it was four! Registration was a bit of a nightmare with a bazillion phone calls and lots of room for human error. Supporters we were trying to honor and bless would show up and we didn’t have seats for them. We would scramble around looking unprofessional and unprepared. It was not good.

With Ministry Sync and online registration, guests register themselves!

They have all the info right there in an email that they can save on their device. We got many fewer phone calls and as our event has grown, it has been virtually seamless to add nights and more guests!

The Ministry Sync AttendEasy platform is one of a kind. Not only is it spectacular, it’s user-friendly! Our guests love it.

The platform is awesome, and the Ministry Sync team is even better. The customer service is top-notch. They address problems right then! No waiting or stress. We have been very pleased with Ministry Sync and sincerely congratulate them on ten years serving the Lord. You rock!

Jo Lisa Blossom
Grants Pass, Oregon
Pregnancy Care Center of Grants Pass

 

Thank you for sharing your experience, Jo Lisa! Ministry Sync is here to make events easy. Through AttendEasy (for banquets, galas, and dinners) and FundEasy (for walks, runs, and campaigns), the registration process is simplified so it is user-friendly for you and your attendees.

If you have a story to share, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

 

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 

Contract Tips to Save Money on Your Event

June 6th, 2017

Business Partners Shaking Hands

With a good plan, you are able to know how much your event is going to cost months in advance—down to the dollar. With this plan, you must have a commitment from those charging you. Contracts are these commitments to ensure that your event does not go over budget. 

You have the ability to propose amendments to any contract you receive before signing—this includes venues, speakers, A/V, catering, etc…

Early in my career, I received a contract from a Speaker’s Bureau for a keynote who asked me to have a certain brand of bottled water available at a certain degree. (Really? Does someone really know if whether or not the water is 73 or 74 degrees?) Before signing anything, I went through the entire contract and proposed my revisions. They accepted every single one. After that, I learned to question everything!

The key thing to note in regard to contracts is that as long as you are being respectful of the other person and the request being asked, people tend to be very open to discussion. Be available and reasonable in a loving way and you will probably get what you want in your contract. That said, go in knowing that you might need to be flexible. You are asking them to be flexible with you, so it is only appropriate that you treat them as you want to be treated.

Budget

Before signing any contracts for your event, you MUST know your total budget and have an idea of how to allocate those funds.

Once you have your overall budget, break it down into line items.

Man working with financial dataFirst, note your fixed costs on your budget. Your Venue, Entertainment (Music & Keynote Speakers), and A/V should have a fixed cost attached. Of course, if you make changes after you sign the contract, additional costs will incur. Your fixed costs may not be negotiable, but in my experience, it never hurts to ask.

Next, note your variable costs in your budget. Your Event Management Software, Food & Beverage (F&B), gifts, and printing costs will change depending on the number of registrants, but you will be able to plan for the cost of each item.

Tip! If you are at a loss for how to start for creating a budget, click here —> Budget Planning Templates

If your organization is tax-exempt, be certain to provide this information with all the vendors with which you work. It does not apply in all states, but for those it does, you will save a lot of money.

Fixed Costs

Venue

Ask the venue to allow you to pay for the event via Direct Bill. With Direct Bill payment, the venue will either invoice you after the event or you may have a credit card on file that they run charges against per your agreement with them. This allows you the opportunity to raise funds at the event to cover the costs and relieves a little stress from having to have all the bills pre-paid. They may ask for a deposit, but this amount will be far less than the full event cost.

Tip! In many cases, if you are using the venue’s catering services, you can negotiate the cost of the venue into the contract (i.e. waive the room rental fee), saving you hundreds, if not thousands!

Entertainment

pretty woman singing

If you have a local speaker in mind, great! This eliminates travel costs from the get-go. Some situations, however, call for bringing a speaker in so don’t fear this. Simply be certain (as with the hotel) that you know all the costs up-front.

If you have a big-name speaker in mind with no connections, I highly recommend using a Speaker’s Bureau as you are able to see preferred topics and their speaking rate. Don’t hesitate to work with the Bureaus as well if the cost appears to be beyond your budget—their job is to work with you to find the right speaker at the right price for your event. Sometimes, the speakers have a heart for exactly what you do and/or can add it onto another commitment in your area. As with venue contracts, it never hurts to ask for exactly what you want.

Tip! For Christian Speakers, I love Ambassador Speaker’s Bureau and I Need a Pro-Life Speaker. I worked with both for years and they always worked with me and my budget. I have recommended them to several friends who have used them as well over the years with the same positive experiences.

Audio & Visual (A/V)

What do you need for your event? Are you showing a video? Would you like to project the speaker so all can easily see him? Do you have the items or will you need to rent them? Does the venue have what you need?

These are important questions to ask (again) before you sign a contract with the venue. You may be able to work some key items such as microphones, speakers (yes, these are sometimes two separate costs), projectors, and screens. Be certain you also budget for someone to run this equipment as well or have someone on hand who understands A/V so you are not left without support. If you have someone on staff or a ministry partner who is a genius when it comes to technology, utilize this person’s skills either for the event itself, or for a discussion before the A/V meeting. Trust me, their knowledge will save you a lot of time and a potential headache.

Some venues, however, do not have access to A/V on-site and therefore outsource this with a partner A/V company. If possible, price compare. In some cases, these partner companies over-charge and you need to know your options before signing. If you come to them with a quote from another company, they may match it. The best way to avoid overpaying for anything is to be informed.

And again, if you have a partnership with a local church that has amazing technology, talk with them and see if they would be willing to either donate their equipment and services or rent them out at far less than the A/V company would charge. Be certain to know the professionalism of the equipment first, however, as you don’t want to sacrifice quality. Don’t settle for cheap A/V to save a few dollars, your dinner will suffer.

Variable Costs

Event Management Software

A great way to streamline registration and consolidate information is to use an Event Management Software like AttendEasy. Your attendees register online and you control all facets of your registration through a web-based program. AttendEasy allows you to manage groups of people, create a table chart, print name tags, and more.

Tip! This software investment actually ends up saving your organization a lot of time and work, releasing you to tend to other important tasks.

Your total cost will depend on the size of your event and the number of registrants. Your sales representative will work with you to help provide a quote based on your event expectations. (Don’t forget to ask about discount plans.)

Food & Beverage (F&B)

Depending on the location, plan to add 20 percent for service charges and a percentage for taxes as well (this changes city to city). Know this amount up front. (It may be indicated on the contract as a dollar amount ++ (or $50++) — these pluses are the indicator that more money is expected than what is listed.

Example: Cost of Coffee + service charge + tax. This can take one gallon of coffee from costing $50 to $67.50 [$50+10+7.5=$67.50]. If you are unprepared for this, your bill may provide you with a good case of sticker shock. Always be certain to account for taxes and service charges as well as it could easily add thousands to your final bill. 

Wine glass

Regarding F&B, NEVER sign a contract without negotiating your F&B. Since you have prepared your budget before making these decisions, you know that you can afford a $35 meal per person. However, the location you love has meals starting at $34++ (or $47.60 with tax and service charge). Combat this by asking the venue for all-inclusive meal pricing (cost of meal including the tax and service charge). This ultimately helps you plan and shows the venue that you are prepared for these charges. In some cases, this can help stop the nickel & dime game some venues play.

If the venue comes back to you with that $47.60 all-inclusive price, I guarantee that if you go in knowing that you are able to spend $35 per person for a three-course meal with drinks, they will work with you. The key is to stay in communication with them and (of course!) always be cordial. 

Tip! Negotiate a higher number of preset salads and desserts and a fewer number of full course meals. This helps account for no-shows and walk-ins while charging $12 per empty seat as opposed to $35.

Also, go in knowing that menus are not set in stone. I have never had an issue working with the chef to come up with a nice menu for my guests at the cost I determine. You may need to be flexible, but you will be able to find a nice beef dinner for your guests, even if it is a lunch portion. 😊

Gifts

This same method works with gifts. There are so many promotional services and online gift shops that if you go in with a set amount in mind per guest, you will find a nice item to honor them. The key is to be intentional and realistic. 

If you want to provide an engraved photo frame for each guest and your budget is $5 per person, you may need to re-evaluate your expectations. 

Note: Gifts and giveaways are completely optional at dinners. Something meaningful such as a scripture card, a magnet with your organization’s contact info, or a calendar with ministry photos is appropriate and in some cases, may be able to be negotiated into the printing contract. See below for more about that.

Printing

While printing items in-house may save money, the final product is not always the best. Don’t sacrifice quality when hosting current and potential ministry partners. This is your time to show your community how professional you are and the positive outcomes that occur when they invest in your organization.

Many organizations have a good relationship with a local printer. Use this relationship wisely to ensure that you receive high-quality programs, brochures, etc. at a reasonable price. Every few years, price a project out to a couple of printers to ensure that you are still receiving the best price.

Always price things out

This way, you can make an educated decision about each aspect of your event. It is helpful that before you commit to any of these elements, compare at least three options.

Closeup of business woman hand typing on laptop keyboardI always prepare an Event Summary before beginning my search. In it, I put all the key information about my event and I send it out to my top-3 choices. From here, they respond with their pricing and I am able to compare apples to apples and make the best choice. This way, if there is a printer you really want to use but they are too high, you can let them know what the competitors are charging and give them the opportunity to match it.

I know that budgets and contracts may seem daunting, but understand that knowledge truly is power in the contract game. The best way to be good stewards of your organization’s event budget is to be prepared. I hope this helps you as you plan!

Have a great day!!!

 

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 
P.S. If you found this article helpful, use this ready-to-go tweet to share this article with others.

 

Photo attributions:
Business Meeting – Designed by Katemangostar
Bookkeeping – Designed by katemangostar
Woman Singing – Designed by Asier_relampagoestudio
Dinner – Designed by Mrsiraphol
Laptop – Designed by Jannoon028

Underwriters vs. Matching Gifts

May 23rd, 2017

handshakeDo you host a banquet, gala, or dinner annually to raise funds for your organization? If you use AttendEasy, the answer to that question is most probably, of course! These events exist to not only raise funds for your organization but to reach new ministry partners as well.

A common approach among many organizations is to seek underwriters and/or sponsors for the event. This makes sense as it takes the burden off your shoulders as you plan. You then know that all funds raised that evening go straight to the cause and not the event. We’re writing today to bring you a different perspective on this common practice…

Have you ever heard of a matching gift given to an organization? Maybe yours has even gotten one. You know, where you have a sum of money provided by partners and they will “match” any donation from others up to a certain amount? We hear it during radiothons a lot: “We have a partner willing to match any donation of $300 or more made within the next 30 minutes.”

Matching gifts can be incredibly useful at your event. Not only that, but statistics show that they actually increase the money raised that night significantly.

Your ministry partners want to make a difference with their giving.

Let’s try this on for size: When I (as a dinner guest) hear you tell me that the event has been underwritten and completely paid for, the financial need is no longer relevant. My perception has changed to indicate that your organization does not need my money–or at least as much–since you just told me that you have very wealthy partners able to pay for this multi-thousand dollar event. So while I am so happy that an organization I support has the money it needs to continue the cause, my $50 monthly commitment now seems negligible or less wanted.

So let’s try a different perspective.

When I (as a dinner guest) hear you tell me that your organization has a ministry partner willing to match any gift of $600 ($50/month) or more, my ears perk up. This means that if I commit to a $50 monthly gift, the organization will actually get $100 a month because of the match, which will allow you to serve even more people!!!

With matching gifts, your dinner guests are challenged to give—often more—than what they initially planned. Think about it. If you typically donate $500 to an organization in a year and you were just told that if you increase your donation by just $100, the organization will actually gain $1,200, wouldn’t you consider it?

Now, you may be wondering: How do you get these “matching gifts”? Easy. The same way you got your underwriters. Ask.

If you have a few major ministry partners who tend to help underwrite your major events, simply ask them if they would be willing to give the same amount (or more) in order to challenge others at the event to give more. You can list these people and businesses in the program as a “Ministry Partners” (instead of “Sponsors” or “Underwriters”) and your organization will still receive the funds. It simply changes how you approach the ask at your event.

I hope this simple change helps your ministry thrive, having the capacity to serve more because of increased giving.

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden

 

This article was developed with input from Jim Dempsey, National Director for Fund Development for Campus Ministry of Cru. Jim has helped ministries plan over 2,500 dinners and has seen this approach greatly increase giving at these events. To learn more, please contact Jim via email at jim.dempsey@cru.org.

 

Photo credit: Designed by Freepik

 

WayCool Integration Now Available!

May 17th, 2017

MS-plus-WayCool

We’re excited to announce that our friends at WayCool Software released a new integration that will streamline your data entry! How cool is that? Now all registrants can be imported from Ministry Sync to CoolFocus without having to first export a .csv file.

With this integration, you’ll be able to:

  • Post registrants as donors to the CoolFocus database.
  • Post gifts that were imported from Ministry Sync as donations under registrant donor files in CoolFocus.
  • Post donations that were given at the event.
  • Import pledges and create pledge forms.

Contact your WayCool Software account manager if you have any questions about how the Ministry Sync integration can work for you!

Jason Galicinski
Jason Galicinski, Founder & CEO of Ministry Sync

Ditch the RSVPs

May 15th, 2017

rsvp-food2

I don’t know about you, but I sure get invited to a lot of things. Over the years, there has been a shift in how galas, weddings, banquets, showers, birthday parties and [fill in the blank here] have been asking for RSVPs. It’s commonplace these days for RSVPs to have an online option, whereas 15 years ago that was unheard of.

When I’m invited to something, I try to respond the way that I think the sender wants me to. It’s the people-pleaser in me.

For instance, I was recently invited to my cousin’s formal wedding with an invitation that puts most other wedding invites to shame—I’m talking multiple envelopes, heavy linen paper, personally addressed in embossed calligraphy… it was a work of art!

In the invitation was a pre-stamped return envelope with an elegant (and numbered) RSVP card. There was also a teeny tiny note at the bottom of the invite that showed their website on theknot.com. It seemed to me that they wanted me to RSVP with the response card. So I did, even though online registration would have been my first choice.

My question to you is this: When you are inviting guests to your events, how are your invitations suggesting that you’d like them to RSVP?

Are you sending an RSVP card, then complaining when you have to decipher the handwriting to record it by hand, while muttering under your breath “I know they have a smart phone. Why couldn’t they have just registered online?”

I so often hear “our people don’t really register online,” but I wonder—was that clearly your preferred method of response?

For fun, I challenge you to time yourself the next time you take an RSVP over the phone. How long did the conversation take? Did you already have AttendEasy open, or did you have to open it while on the call? Did you happen to chit-chat with the guest?

rsvp-womanNow, time yourself as you enter an RSVP card that comes in the mail. Don’t forget to start the timer when you get up from your desk to check the mail! Did the guest fill out the entire RSVP card or did they neglect to give you full names? Phone numbers? How long did it take you to enter them?

I’ve timed myself. A phone call—with AttendEasy already open on my computer and no excess chit-chat on the call—takes an average of a minute and a half per person. Per person! Multiply that by 300 people and I’ve wasted seven and a half HOURS registering my guests. Oh, what I could have done with that time had they registered themselves!

A couple of years after I began to use AttendEasy, I started giving only two RSVP options—online and via phone. Our online registration skyrocketed! Couple this with Unlocking the Power of the Table Host by encouraging my hosts to use the tools AttendEasy gave them, and I saved days—literally DAYS—of time.

Please don’t interpret what I’m saying as “don’t connect with anyone.” That’s certainly not my point. The relationships with your Table Hosts are crucial—they are one of the 3 Secrets to Increase your Banquet Response, after all.

What I am saying is that the time saved in manually entering RSVP’s allowed me to focus more on other areas of my event, and gave me the time to invest in my table hosts through calls, notes, and encouraging emails; ultimately deepening their relationship with the ministry, and commitment to filling their table.

It may be scary at first to rip off the band-aid and get rid of RSVP cards, but trust me— the “you” the week of your event will thank the “you” who made that decision months before. 😊

Andrea Trudden

Crystal Velte

 

FundEasy FAQ – Keeping Fundraising Pages OPEN

May 11th, 2017

Q: If I close my event registration, will my fundraiser pages stay open?

A: YES! Your FundEasy Fundraiser Pages stay open for at least 30 days after your event so people can continue to give. Your fundraiser page will reflect this automatically (see below) and allow for further donations. This is a helpful feature that allows people to capitalize on the momentum of the event they were just a part of.

FAQ-fundraising-pages-stay-open-lg

What you need to know:

  • FundEasy’s Event Registration automatically closes on the day of the event (or sooner if you manually close it).
  • The Fundraiser Pages automatically stay open for 30 days after the event to accept donations.
  • You can extend the amount of time fundraiser pages stay open for an additional fee within the Event Details of your FundEasy event.
  • As the Event Coordinator, you can change the goal deadline within the Event Details. This allows you to change the time your fundraisers’ pages count down to. Even after this date, donors are able to give.

 

Good luck with your event, and the many days that follow!

 

Andrea Trudden
Andrea Trudden