Event Planning

How to Master Check-in for Your Fundraising Event in 3 Easy Steps

A smooth and quick check-in process sets the tone for your event. Here are three steps to consider when setting up check-in for your fundraising event.
Create a smooth check-in process for your fundraising event
A smooth and quick check-in process sets the tone for your event. Here are three steps to consider when setting up check-in for your fundraising event.

How to Master Check-in for Your Fundraising Event in 3 Easy Steps

When it comes to hosting a successful fundraising event, the check-in process can set the tone for the entire event. A smooth and efficient check-in can help create a positive experience for guests and set the stage for a successful fundraising effort. Here are some tips to help you streamline your check-in process and make it as stress-free as possible.

A quick and smooth check-in process will create a positive experience for your fundraising event guests

Step 1: Determine the goal of your check-in

Before you begin planning your check-in process, it's important to determine the goal of your check-in and whether or not you actually need it. For example, if you're hosting a small event with only a handful of guests, check-in may not be necessary. However, for larger events, and especially those with a charity auction, a check-in process will ensure that guests have the information they need to start bidding. Here are a few reasons you may want to have check-in at your fundraising event:

Give guests key information for the evening. Despite your best efforts to communicate everything your guests need to know ahead of time, there will still be people who arrive on the night of your fundraiser who have no idea what’s happening. You may want to have a check-in table so that guests can be properly informed about the events of the evening, and pick up an event program, or other information that will be helpful to get them started.

Gather guest information. Fundraising events are a great way to introduce your organization to engage your current supporters and introduce your organization to potential new ones. Gathering as much information as you can about the people in attendance will help you with your fundraising strategy moving forward. Although we highly recommend using Handbid to get guest information in advance of your event, a check-in process on the day of will help you to fill in any missing information and register last-minute attendees.

A word of caution: When checking in guests, don't require too much information or pre-assign paddle numbers. This can slow down the process and create unnecessary confusion. Instead, keep it simple and only ask for what you need for the night of the event. 

Obtain a credit card for payment. When you use the right fundraising event software, you can securely keep your guests’ credit cards on file, making it easy for them to pay for their donations at the end of the evening. The last thing you want is to have to take a bunch of auction items home with you at the end of the night or chase people down for payment for weeks after the event. Collecting payment in advance is a good reason to have a check-in process when guests arrive. 

Learn how Handbid’s charity auction platform can work for your nonprofit!

Talk To Us

Step 2: Plan the setup of your check-in

A smooth and successful check-in requires careful and thoughtful planning. You need to consider where in your venue to set it up, how many tables and how much equipment you’ll need, and how it will flow on the night of your event. Check-in should feel like a welcoming, hospitable process, and you want to give your guests the best first impression possible. Here are some tips you can use to create a trouble-free check-in process:

Have greeters 

Because check-in should be the first thing guests experience at your event, you need to place it at or near the entrance of your venue. Consider placing greeters at your event entrance to welcome guests and direct them where to go when they arrive. If you want to get really fancy, you could even have live entertainment like musicians or a local artist to entertain guests as they wait in line to be checked in.

Have a line marshal 

Because many of your guests will arrive at around the same time, they may experience a line at check-in. In the event of a backup, a line marshal can help to prepare guests for what to expect once they reach the front of the line. For example, a line marshal can encourage guests in line to have a credit card ready or answer event-related questions, like what time dinner will be served.  

Have good event software

Having event software like Handbid is essential for a smooth check-in process at your fundraising event. It can help automate the check-in process, keep track of guest information, provide valuable insights, reduce wait times, and prevent overcrowding.

With event software, especially software that has a native app, guests may be able to skip the line altogether, simply by checking in in advance with their smartphone.

Placing greeters at your event entrance will welcome guests and help them to know where to check in

Do not line guests up alphabetically

Here’s the trouble with organizing your check-in line by alphabet: Unless you meticulously go through every name on your guest list, you don’t have a full grasp on how many people fall into each letter of the alphabet. You could have a line of fifty people whose last names begin with the letter S, while the check-in volunteer assigned to the letters W to Z stands by, helpless to solve the issue. 

To speed up the check-in process, consider using a system that allows you to easily look guests up in your event software. This can help reduce wait times and keep the linemoving quickly.

Use multiple devices to check guests in 

Most event organizers are used to seeing a long table of several people waiting with laptops to check guests in. This is a good setup, however, using multiple devices like tablets or even smartphones for check-in allows staff and volunteers to move down the line of guests, helping to speed up the process and send guests on their way to enjoy the rest of the event. We call this a “tiered check-in,” and it is quite efficient.

Avoid interruptions to the check-in process 

There are a few things that can interrupt, distract, and slow your check-in process down. Placing things like name tags at a different station and limiting the amount of information you require from guests can help to reduce congestion and keep the check-in process moving smoothly.

Additionally, if you are hosting a bar at your fundraising event, its placement could play a role in creating confusion about check-in. Placing the bar before check-in, or even handing them a glass of champagne as they walk through the entrance, could encourage your guests to stop at the check-in table instead of just heading straight to the bar, leaving you (and them) without the information they need to help make your event a success.

Have a solutions table 

The check-in process should be smooth, quick and painless for your guests. Making them wait in a long line just to get into the event may make them impatient and set a stressful tone for the rest of their experience. However, we recognize that problems can come up: someone isn’t on the guest list, or a sponsor brought their 10 guests and didn’t register them ahead of time. These types of issues will slow your check-in line down. We suggest having a solutions table with a knowledgeable staff person to help address any issues that arise during the check-in process.

Ensure that you have enough volunteers at your fundraiser to make the welcoming process go smoothly

Step 3: Have enough volunteers at check-in

Before the event, decide how many volunteers you need for the check-in process. For larger events, consider having one volunteer for every fifty guests, and ensure that you have given yourself plenty of time ahead of the event to train them on the event software, and details, and check-in procedures. We recommend training your event volunteers one to two hours before your guests are expected to arrive. This will give you enough time to account for your volunteers, make any needed adjustments, feed them, train them, and get them settled so they are ready and excited to begin welcoming your guests. 

As a crucial aspect of any fundraising event, the check-in process can set the tone, help you to gather information, and create less work for you and your staff in the longrun. By following these tips, you can help ensure that the check-in process runs smoothly and that guests have a positive experience. Remember to be flexible, keep it simple, and have fun!

Learn how Handbid’s charity auction platform can work for your nonprofit!

Talk To Us

For a more in depth conversation about check-in, listen to our podcast, Elevate Your Event.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Testing image caption text
  1. Numbered list
  2. Numbered list 2
  3. Numbered list 3

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.