In the past, event registration could become a real hassle for a non-profit organization. Staff would have to take lots of phone calls and mailed-in registration forms, and manually enter the information into a central event attendance list. The process was manually intensive and could introduce lots of errors. For the attendees, there wasn't much information available to them about which friends and acquaintances would also be at the event. The process was flawed.
Now there are many online event registration tools available to improve this process for both the organization and the participants. If your organization's web provider offers online registration that is integrated with your constituent database, you are ready to go. For everyone else, we reviewed a few of the tools available online with the following criteria in mind:
- Ability to customize the data requested
- Ability to accept payments for the event registration
- Ability to easily share the registered attendees list online (with or without extra comments)
- Integration with your existing database
- Ability to integrate the online form with your website
- Other functionality offered by the service
With this criteria in mind, here are some tools a nonprofit might consider for processing registrations online for their next event.
Brown Paper Tickets
Brown Paper Tickets is an online "fair-trade" ticketing service. It is meant more for selling tickets to a large event such as a concert or conference.
Tickets can be sold to an event online or via phone for a reasonable price; Offers the ability to ask customized questions of registrants; Can report on attendees and export data; The buyer actually pays the relatively low fee for purchasing tickets to the event, not the organization.
Money isn't sent to organization until a week after the event; No way to show a list of attendees automatically; Embedding the form into your website is possible, but will take some programming expertise.
It offers the ability to sell the tickets online OR by phone; either option costs 2.5% + $0.99/ticket (ticket price is under $9.99) or $1.99/ticket (ticket price is greater than $9.99).
Eventbrite is a more full-featured online event registration service. It offers its services for free if no payments are processed through the form. However, payments processed through the form (using Paypal or Google Checkout) are charged at 2.5% of the transaction price (from Eventbrite) PLUS the fee from Paypal or Google Checkout.
Offers lots of functionality: Can embed the form in your website; Can customize the form to accept additional information; Attendees can view who is attending as well as customized information they provide in the form; Offers many reports and even check-in functionality; Offers options for further promoting the event online.
EventBrite offers some integration with Facebook. After creating your event, EventBrite can publish an event page directly on Facebook with your event details and a link to buy a ticket. Your event is then promoted through your newsfeed on Facebook as well.
No direct integration with databases, although the reporting function will allow users to download the information for import; Must pay both Eventbrite and PayPal/Google Checkout a portion of every "ticket" sold.
Free if you don't charge for your tickets. Otherwise 2.5% of ticket price for paid events Min. $0.99 per ticket. Max. $9.95 per ticket.
Evite is a free event registration tool that is very popular for birthday parties and other individual get-togethers.
Most people have used Evite and feel comfortable with its interface; Attendees can add comments and view who has been invited, who is attending, and who can not attend; Free.
The form doesn't allow the processing of payments for the registrations (although a link to an online donation form from PayPal or other services could be included in the invitation); Data can not easily be integrated into existing databases; the form cannot be integrated into an organization's website; there is limited reporting functionality.
Facebook allows organizations to create and promote events. Events can be posted to an organization group or page. Within the events, users can RSVP as attending, maybe, or not attending, and users can see who is planning to attend (including their profile picture). Users can also discuss the event on the event discussion boards.
For Facebook users, easy to RSVP and see everyone who has RSVP'd; Can join discussion about the event; Free.
Organization cannot accept payments or download contact information from attendees.
Google Docs offers the ability to create a free online form that gathers information into a Google spreadsheet. Users can gather any information they would like, although the look and feel is very bland with limited customization options. This is a quick and easy way to gather information.
Free; Easy to setup
Has no specific event registration functionality - no automated list of attendees, no integrated payment options; Bland presentation.
RegOnline offers lots of functionality to help manage an event, including check-in, detailed reporting, nametag creation, attendee lists, conditional attendee questions, etc. This service is great for very large special events.
As mentioned above, RegOnline offers lots of functionality for maintaining the event registration information, reporting on that information, and preparing for the event.
All of this functionality comes at a price: $3.95 for each registrant + 4.95%/credit card transaction (if using RegOnline's merchant account, otherwise 0.95%).