Bloomerang Event Management: How to Track Data for Special Events

If special events are a core fundraising strategy for your organization, you will want to track special event data in your Bloomerang database.

Managing event data in Bloomerang is a little tricky because Bloomerang doesn’t have a standard, out-of-the-box event management system. Your organization will need to build a custom system to track special event data in Bloomerang that uses interactions, donations, custom fields, online forms, and potentially imports and mass updates. You may even consider an automated integration with an external event management software.

Every organization is different, so the design and setup of Bloomerang event management will vary. It is impossible to provide a perfect event management blueprint for every organization. The goal of this post is to provide the principles of Bloomerang event management so you can apply them to your specific situation and build your system to track special event data in a way that works for your organization.

Event Workflow Data

There are two event data elements in Bloomerang. You may use both elements depending on the type of event you are hosting and amount of data you’d like to track.

  • 1. Actions

    Actions are non-financial steps in the event workflow. Actions include invitations, RSVP statuses, and attendance. If you need reports on non-financial steps in an event workflow like a list of attendees, you will track those steps using an action record. Actions are tracked in interactions using a combination of system and custom fields.

  • 2. Transactions

    Transactions are an exchange within the event workflow. Transactions include tickets, sponsorships, in-event purchases, and in-kind contributions. Transactions are tracked as donations, pledges, pledge payments, and potentially soft credits and recurring gifts. Transactions are tracked with the Campaign and Appeal fields as well as custom fields.

Tracking Special Events in Bloomerang

This post is conceptual, outlining the principles of Bloomerang event management. You will need to customize the concepts in this post to meet your organization’s specific event tracking needs.

There are two components that drive the design and setup of event data tracking in Bloomerang.

  • The data you want to get out of Bloomerang (i.e. reports)
  • The data entry procedures in Bloomerang that correlate to event actions and transactions

With these two components in mind, events occur in two primary phases: pre-event and in-event. Pre-event includes all workflow steps that happen before the day of the event. In-event includes all workflow steps that happen the day of the event and after the event is over as some transactions and actions occur shortly after the day of the event.

  • 1. Pre-event Actions

    Pre-event actions happen before the day of the event. Actions include invitations and responses from invitations (RSVPs). Actions may also include registrations for events that don’t sell tickets.

    Pre-event actions are tracked on interactions in the constituent’s timeline. Setup a custom field called Event Status to track the status of the pre-event action. Examples include Invited and Registered. If desired, you can also break Registered down into RSVP – Yes and RSVP – No. Then, add another custom field called Event Name and add the names of your events as values. This will allow you to specify the specific event the interaction applies to.

    Enter all pre-event actions by selecting the appropriate Event Status and Event Name value. Use Bloomerang reports to find event related interactions and display the data.

  • 2. Pre-event Transactions

    Pre-event transactions happen before the day of the event. Transactions include ticket purchases, sponsorships, and general event donations.

    Pre-event transactions are most commonly tracked as a donation record. The type of transaction will be categorized by a Campaign and Appeal value. The Campaign generally identifies the event itself (e.g. 2020 Gala) and the Appeal identifies the categorization of the transaction as a ticket, sponsorship, or general event donation. We recommend setting up Appeal values for the different event-related purchases (e.g. event tickets, sponsorships, etc.) so you can easily report on different sources of funds for a specific event. Additional custom fields may be added to transactions to track ticket quantity, guest names, sponsorship level, or other important information about the transaction.

    How you process transactions and collect registrations for your event will vary. You may use Bloomerang’s event registration forms, manual data entry with segmented transactions, or a custom event registration form connected to your database with the Bloomerang Zapier app. You may also use a separate event management system that processes pre-event transactions, and then import those transactions into Bloomerang.

  • 3. In-event Actions

    In-event actions happen the day of the event. The most common in-event action is attendance. You will want to track those people that attended your event so you can run reports on their attendance and connect with them post-event.

    Add Attended to your Event Status custom field and add an interaction to the timeline of the constituent who attended your event. As you did for pre-event actions, make sure to select the Event Name on the interaction to identify the specific event the interaction relates to. A simple report of all interactions that are coded with the Event Name and Event Attended status will produce your attendee list.

  • 4. In-event Transactions

    In-event transactions happen the day of the event. Transactions include in-event purchases and in-event donations, such as silent auctions, pledge auctions, drink purchases, and general contributions.

    These transactions are tracked the same way as pre-event transactions, but are coded and classified with different Appeal values (e.g. auction items, paddle raise, other in-event purchases, etc.). The Campaign most likely will remain the same for these transactions. Flag in-event transactions with unique Appeal values so you can report on in-event and pre-event performance separately.

Getting Special Event Data In and Out of Bloomerang

Event workflows aren’t always simple and straightforward. You may be using external email marketing, web form, or event management software. You may also send invitations through a mailing house.

The Bloomerang database is set up for single record data entry. Meaning, you enter a single event record for an account, save the record, and move to another record for a different account. When dealing with events, it isn’t practical to enter a single interaction or a single transaction record for every invitee, attendee, and ticket purchaser. Entering data manually will be too time consuming and the workflows become increasingly complex.

  • 1. Actions

    Use Bloomerang imports to get pre-event and in-event actions into the database in batches.

    • If you generate your invites in Bloomerang, an interaction will automatically be created on the recipient’s timeline. Unfortunately, this process does not allow you to add data to any custom fields on the interaction (e.g. Event Status or Event Name)
    • If you generate your invites externally from Bloomerang by exporting to Excel, make sure to include the Bloomerang account number in your export. Once your invites are sent, use the constituent account number to create a file to reimport. Make sure to include custom fields on the interaction you’d like to assign data for (i.e. Event Status and Event Name). Then, reimport the data using the Bloomerang account number as your duplicate check. This process will create pre-event actions in the form of interactions for every constituent in your import file.
    • If you are tracking RSVPs, we recommend tracking them in Excel and then importing the data in batches every day, week, or by another schedule. Use the invite list to match the Bloomerang account number to the RSVP so you can import using the account number, including the desired interaction details and coding in the import file.
    • If you are tracking attendance, export the RSVP or registration list from Bloomerang to Excel with the account number for each potential attendee. Take the Excel sheet on a laptop to the event and flag each account that attends the event. Import the data post-event to create an attendance record for each account that attended the event.
  • 2. Transactions

    Most pre-event steps can be streamlined with Bloomerang event registration forms or other custom event forms. Some events are more robust and require other event management software systems. Bloomerang imports and clearly defined import processes are a great way to get external data into your organization’s database.

    • If you are selling tickets for your event, review Bloomerang event registration forms to see if they are a viable solution for your event. If they aren’t robust enough, consider a custom event form.
    • If you are capturing transactions in an external event management software, use imports to bring that data into Bloomerang with address, phone number or email address as the import duplicate check.
    • If you collect transactions external to Bloomerang during the event, consider pairing each account in your external system with an Bloomerang account number so you can use the account number to import easily. The Bloomerang account number is a perfect duplicate check and streamlines the import process significantly.

Automating the Event Management Workflow

If you are using an external event management system, manual data entry and imports may not be feasible because events are dynamic and data entry is fluid. With manual data entry and imports, you must stagger data entry from your event management system to Bloomerang or wait to upload your data until after the event is over. Both options create a lag in reporting and are real time killers.

Automated integration is the least intensive and best way to transfer data between an external event management system and Bloomerang because it is hands-free and real-time.

Based on the event management system you’re using, an automated solution can seamlessly transfer new ticket purchases, attendee registrations, and attendee check-ins to Bloomerang.

Ready to explore an automated solution between your event management system and Bloomerang? It is easy to get started. Contact us to discuss your integration options or to get started.

Setup Bloomerang for a Successful Event

The principles of Bloomerang event management are the same for most organizations, but the details vary. Develop a solid Bloomerang event tracking system by thinking about the workflow of steps and the reports you hope to run both pre-event, in-event, and post-event. Keeping a focus on workflow steps and reports will help you design a functional event data tracking system in Bloomerang.

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