Throughout a fundraising event, there are many opportunities to cement an impression that encourages giving and portrays your nonprofit as an effective organization.
Don’t let that image slip away at the last minute with a difficult and disorganized check-out.
During event check-out guests are anxious to get their prizes and wrap up the night, but confusion and poor execution can force them to stand idly by, watching as your team of volunteers work desperately to locate and process their items. It’s uncomfortable for everyone and can cast a cloud of negativity over your nonprofit’s reputation as a well-run organization. Anticipating the five most common issues that can ruin an efficient check-out can help you avoid that pitfall and leave your guests with only great memories of an evening of giving.
1. Unclear Traffic Flow
Check-out is a process, with several steps involved that take time to complete. Creating a clear traffic flow based around those activities is your best bet for keeping your guests moving through the processes in a timely, orderly manner.
Keep your guests on the right path with strategically placed objects, like a velvet rope, to guide the way. Placing signs at key points can prepare your guests to be ready with bid numbers and identification for a quick package pick up. Consider having volunteers posted at confusing points to answer questions and hand out gift bags with information about your nonprofit.
2. Ill-defined Work Areas (check-out and pick-up areas)
Check-out really consists of two specific areas—check-out and pick-up. Transaction documentation and processing is important and needs to be a focused activity, so separating it from the area where guests will pick up their items is the best approach to help your team minimize mistakes.
Create a clear separation between check-out and item pick-up. Route your traffic flow toward the exit so guests will find themselves conveniently at the door after they’ve picked up their items.
3. Unreadable Labels
Sometimes the smallest changes have the biggest impact in a high-stress situation like check-out. Labeling is an example of this issue. The time it takes volunteers to search for a package’s label slows down the entire process and makes for bottlenecks in the line of guests. Likewise, labels need to be legible, so your team doesn’t have to spend time guessing what has been recorded.
Place labels in prominently seen places, with bid numbers, names (if available), and any other identifying information in easy to read fonts. Make sure the information you are providing on the label is the same data recorded in your event’s administrative system. A quick check of the guests corresponding bidding information, and they are out the door with their prize!
4. Disorganized Work Stations
A messy space creates anxiety, and anxiety can lead to mistakes. A good plan to combat this is to have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Good organization will have guests moving through the line in a timely manner and keep volunteers from panicking when the line gets long.
At your transaction station have all your documentation in front of you and ready when the first guests arrive to collect their prizes. Keep records up-to-date and available for everyone on your team. An all-inclusive event software like Greater Giving’s event software package will make it easy for your team to quickly access all the information needed and make the transaction process go smoothly, from start to finish.
Your pick-up station can be organized either by item numbers or winning bid numbers. Layout the smaller items on tables and keep the bigger items in easy-to-reach areas. Make sure your team has a few heavy-lifters ready to help guests with larger packages.
5. Not enough help
Your volunteer team is an invaluable resource. Their dedication, enthusiasm, and willingness to help out when you need it most makes them your all-star event team heroes. Don’t let them down by short staffing the volunteer crew.
Depending on the size your event, it is a good idea to have a person at each check-out terminal and a few back up people milling around who can run messages and pick up loose ends. Make sure your team leaders are in the area and available at all times for questions during this busy time.
Don’t let a poorly executed check-out cast a shadow over your successful event. Using these five check-out tips will help the last minutes of your event be a low-stress, hassle-free experience for your team and your guests.
we have started using flags at each check-in/check-out area so guests don’t stand in line waiting for the 1st volunteer/computer terminal. Volunteers down the line a ways lift their flag up to let guests know they are available to check them in or out