As you can imagine, most of us development folks are hard at work planning for galas, dinner events, walks, runs, etc. Almost every type of nonprofit event will involve some sort of registration/check-in process and with so many other things going on, we tend to procrastinate on the planning of this particular area. However, this is one of the most important facets of your nonprofit event. It’s the first interaction your guests will have as they enter and the first impression they will have of your event. A smooth check-in paves the way for a smooth and enjoyable evening.
Here are six tips to ensure both your guests and your nonprofit event are well received:
Remember – you only have one chance to make a first impression! Your volunteers set the tone so make sure they are always smiling, welcoming guests graciously, and finishing with “Have a great evening!” or “Enjoy the event!” (no matter how hectic things are behind the scenes). Most check-ins are done through a computer system these days, so make sure you choose volunteers who are comfortable with this so they can help solve problems on the fly.
While you do want your volunteers to be cordial, having volunteers who know too many of your guests personally will encourage side conversations at the check-in table and slow down the line. Consider giving these types of volunteers the role of “greeter” instead (see below)
It may help the flow of your nonprofit event to have volunteers designated as “greeters”- standing right near the door or wherever your guests are entering, welcoming them, and directing them to the check-in table. It might seem like a fairly simple or even useless step, but if the table is a little offset from the entrance or if there is any way for your guests to bypass check-in, it will happen. This also helps your guests focus on checking in as soon as they arrive instead of immediately going towards the bar/buffet or finding people they know inside.
Many people think this will help the lines move quicker; it doesn’t. Unless it is absolutely necessary, splitting up lines will simply cause confusion (“Am I listed under my own last name or my date’s last name?”), add an extra step for your guests, and create longer wait times. Especially with electronic check-in systems, every volunteer should be able to check in every guest. Side note – depending on the size of the nonprofit event, you may still want to separate check-in for VIPs and media.
If possible, consider having separate arrival times for separate ticket types. Perhaps your VIPs and/or sponsors are invited to arrive and enjoy the bar/food an hour earlier than your general admission guests. This helps stagger arrivals and avoid lines forming. It also eliminates the need for a separate VIP check-in area. It’s a win, win!
Trust me on this one. Designate one or two highly capable people simply for monitoring the operations and being the go-tos for any situation that may arise. These should be staff members or seasoned volunteers who are very familiar with the event and the organization. These are the people who will handle issues such as: making special accommodations for guests, replenishing supplies at the check-in table, escorting high-profile guests or speakers to their designated areas, dealing with computer glitches, and putting out all kinds of miscellaneous fires. You will be happy to have them.
Brittany LaGanke joins the CGC team as the Director of Nonprofit Development after several years in the nonprofit sector. Initially starting her career in program management and later transitioning into development, Brittany has gained valuable insight into the common obstacles that organizations face while attempting to secure funding. Brittany leans on her extensive experiences in event/auction management and proven track record in cultivating corporate donors to provide strategic solutions for our nonprofit consulting clients.