Building Better Benefit Management

Everyone knows there’s an art to throwing a good party. As we continue to add features to our new ticketing and contact management program, Artful.ly, we wanted to learn more about how arts managers plan and ticket successful benefit events, galas, and fundraisers. So, a couple weeks ago, we ordered some sandwiches, broke out the chart paper, and sat down with 11 fabulous benefit veterans from a variety of organizations including Martha Graham Dance Company, Red Bull Theater, and Socrates Sculpture Park. They gave us lots good ideas and we hope to build some of them into future versions of Artful.ly. Here’s quick a taste of what we heard:

  1. Build invitation lists from comprehensive patron histories. A great system would integrate ticket buying history, actual attendance, and donations; and allow users to create lists from multi-criteria searches such as “lifetime giving > $2,000″ and/or “purchased tickets to last year’s event”.
  2. Track who’s inviting whom. Which board member is supposed to invite to Mrs. Jones? Tools to help staff remember key social connections and leverage them more efficiently would be great.
  3. Choose who pays the fees. For some events or price tiers, producers want to cover the ticketing and processing fees. In other situations, producers should be able to pass off the fees to the ticket buyer.
  4. Offer patrons a place to give additional information in the checkout process. Patrons often note their seating requests, food preferences, or guests names on the back or margins of paper response cards. Online sales should offer a similar feature.
  5. Check-in guests with a live door list. The door list should be “checkable” and multiple users should be able to view an up-to-date list on different devices at the same time.
  6. Record ticket purchase and attendance as distinct actions. Let’s not conflate buying a ticketing with actually attending an event. Tracking no-shows and guests of ticket buyers will help cultivation staff see new opportunities.
  7. Ignore tools that aren’t necessary for the way you do business. Some software features just aren’t useful to some organizations. Users shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by features they don’t choose to use. As one participant put it, “I don’t need a Ferrari, but I want something more than a golf cart.”

Got more suggestions? Comment below or visit Artful.ly’s Feature Request Forum.

(And a BIG thanks to our Community Design Session participants–you guys are awesome!)


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