7 Features Nonprofits Need for Event Ticketing

Brooke Battle
Written by :

Brooke Battle

Categories: Event Tips

Nonprofit fundraising events are all about the future you are building: New Donors, Donor Retention, Awareness and Fundraising. All of that begins with the ticketing and registration process.  For many nonprofits, event registration is a HUGE problem and difficult to obtain. 

Do you default to the page provided by your CRM system? 

Do you use a basic online ticketing service like Eventbrite? 

If you do, you’re not alone. However, by not using a specialized event ticketing and registration system you could be missing out. Here’s why: 


Why do nonprofits need a specialized event ticketing/registration system?


(1) It’s the front door to your event and your brand. 

(2) The majority of tickets/registrations are not sold directly to the attendee. With every fundraising event, a large portion of tickets are issued by sponsors or table hosts.

(3) The ticketing process drives your ability to follow up, track and ensure a smooth experience. 

(4) The event ticketing process fuels pre-event giving.


Therefore, ticketing for a nonprofit fundraising event needs much more than just selling a product online. 

What do nonprofits need for event registration and ticketing?

  • A portal to sell online tickets, sponsorships, and tables or teams (golf, for example). 

  • A process for sponsors and/or nonprofit staff to issue complimentary tickets. 

  • A tool for table hosts, team captains and nonprofit staff to issue invitations or tickets to the table/team

  • For hybrid events, nonprofits need a way to separate in-person and virtual guests.

  • For at the door assistance, nonprofits benefit from differentiated ticketing (Regular, VIP, Honoree seating)

  • Add-A-Gift: Nonprofits benefit from a prompt to add a gift during the ticketing process and especially when this feature is included in the unpaid/complimentary ticketing processes.

  • Data privacy: Systems that are not utilizing your event or donor data for other purposes and in alignment with the AFP Donor Bill of Rights.  When nonprofits use free or low-cost tools, their guests (donors) are becoming assets of the software company.


For some fundraising events, the majority of tickets are NOT PURCHASED by the attendee. They are complimentary or by invitation. At Swell, we have many 1000+ guest events where less than ten tickets are purchased online. In one case, 990 tickets are issued through sponsorship tables.


Why is offline ticketing important? 

  • Accurate guest count (optional meal selections)
  • Saves time and reduces human error
  • Smooth Check-In Process
  • Guest data for pre and post event communication (attendance should be uploaded to the donor database)
  • Opportunity to facilitate online giving


How do you know if you need to upgrade your event registration and ticketing process? 

The symptoms of a poor ticketing process include the following: 

(1) attendees are emailing the nonprofit staff directly with registration information, 

(2) no/low pre-event giving, 

(3) inability to track complimentary ticketing - basically, you don’t know how many will attend, 

(4) no data to track engagement and sync it with your donor database, 

(5) ticketing/registration form is too long for a mobile device.

Often an afterthought or inherited from your donor database system, the fundraising event ticketing process is complicated and your nonprofit can set the tone for a well-organized event with this vital first step. 

Nonprofits invest a lot in their events and everyone benefits when some of that investment is directed toward the first step - ticketing.  It sets the proper tone for a well-organized event, treats guest/donor data properly and privately, saves staff time and ensures that the nonprofit has valuable data to build for the future.