Fundraising events are a direct reflection of your brand. Nonprofits are constantly reassessing their strategies and resources to ensure their events effectively represent their mission and identity, engage donors, and reach the right audiences.
However, an important fundraising and event tool that your nonprofit might have overlooked is liability protection. In addition to communicating your mission to potential and current donors, your events should communicate your commitment to safety. That starts with waivers.
The pandemic introduced many nonprofits to waivers for the first time as gathering in person suddenly became more of a risk than ever before. But even once COVID-19 is no longer a concern, you should still consider using online waivers to help drive your mission forward. An online waiver saves you time so that you can focus on powering social good.
To help you better understand online waivers, we’ll walk you through four key benefits:
- Liability Protection and Safety
- Convenience for Participants
- Recordkeeping and More Data for Future Events
- Reduced Paper Footprint
Online waivers are a quick and easy way to make sure your organization and its supporters are protected. Whether you’re hosting a sporting event, blood drive, or fashion show, an online waiver can have a significant impact on the success of your event.
Now let’s review how online waivers can help your mission keep running smoothly in the long run.
1. Liability Protection and Safety
The core purpose of all waivers, both paper and digital, is to provide your nonprofit with liability protection when hosting events where participants could be harmed or exposed to potential harm.
Think about waivers and protections the same way you do various facets of compliance and due diligence. For example, before hosting a raffle, gala, or auction, you have to double-check your jurisdiction’s alcohol and games of chance licensing rules. Waivers should also be considered and come into play early in the process of event planning for nonprofit organizations.
These documents include a detailed description of the proposed activity, inherent risks, safety rules, and a signature. When a participant signs a waiver, they acknowledge the risks and release the host of any liability for damages or injuries.
Many nonprofits operate without waivers partly because they don’t recognize the wide range of benefits that they offer. Beyond protecting your mission, waivers protect your supporters by notifying them upfront about potential risks and giving them the opportunity to fully weigh their decision. Waivers also help to foster a stronger culture of safety, transparency, and due diligence at your organization.
When creating a well-written waiver, your nonprofit should:
- Conduct research. To prevent misunderstandings and disputes, it’s important to familiarize yourself with lawsuit prevention and find the electronic waiver software that works best for your organization.
- Review waivers from similar organizations. If you’re unsure about the potential risks involved in your event, turn to organizations that offer similar activities and ask to see an example of their waivers.
- Take inventory of the risks. Start by asking yourself, “What risks are raised by the event itself and what action should we take to reduce them?” Make sure your waiver accounts for all potential risks associated with the planned activity to avoid unnecessary legal action.
- Consult a lawyer. Consult with a legal professional before taking your waiver public to confirm that all of your bases are covered.
- Share the document among your entire organization. Make sure everyone at your organization is on the same page. If a participant contacts a member of your staff to inquire about the waiver, you want them to be well-informed and aware of the document at hand.
Hosting successful fundraising campaigns is critical to the success of a nonprofit. But without legal protections in place, you could lose valuable funds and donor support. Investing in an electronic waiver software protects your mission so that you can continue engaging the community with a range of events in the future.
2. Convenience for Participants
Now let’s look at the unique benefits of online waivers specifically. Even if your nonprofit has long used waivers, you could still benefit from an update for the digital age.
An online waiver holds the same legal weight as paper. The only difference is that electronic waiver software is convenient, while paper waivers require extra logistical steps that slow down supporters’ experiences and place an undue burden on your organization.
According to Cornershop Creative’s list of best nonprofit websites, people in this highly digital world expect accessibility and easy-to-use features. Digital waivers streamline the entire signing process for participants, allowing them to sign at anytime and from anywhere.
With the right online waiver, you can provide your supporters with the following digital solutions:
- Personalized features. Online waivers can be customized to the needs of each individual participant. You can translate waivers into different languages, add a parent/guardianship relationship setting for minors, and even include screen magnifiers or text-to-speech functions.
- Auto-complete fields. On most virtual signing platforms, users can auto-complete fields like names, dates, and email addresses. This ultimately minimizes error and leads to faster completion rates.
- Additional safety information. If you need to give concrete safety instructions for your attendees, some software includes an embed feature where you can include an instructional video.
- Off-site signing. Online waivers allow you to easily distribute waivers ahead of time and encourage early signatures. Participants will have plenty of time to review the document, thus skipping the lines on arrival and ensuring a stress-free experience.
Imagine you’re hosting a guided nature walk through potentially dangerous terrain. You want to give people enough time to consider their own abilities and opt out if they are uncomfortable, rather than waiting until the day of the event to gather signatures and pre-signed waivers. The easiest way to do this is by implementing a virtual signing process, such as Smartwaiver’s online tour waiver.
Once your online waiver is ready, you can link to it in a confirmation email, direct participants to your website, or set up an on-site kiosk where participants sign in upon arrival.
3. Recordkeeping and More Data for Future Events
Storing physical papers in drawers and file cabinets is time-consuming and labor intensive. Your valuable documents run the risk of being damaged or even lost. With the right online waiver software, everything you need is available in a searchable database.
Online waivers automatically save your records as a built-in backup. This is a huge benefit in and of itself, but easy access to this data can help with digital marketing as well.
Waiver analytics allow you to measure event engagement and participation to guide future event planning. For instance, if your fun run event has fewer pre-event waiver signatures than usual, you can use data to more effectively engage with supporters. Whether you need to make your call to action more obvious or simplify your sign-up form, waiver data can clue you into the right steps to take next time.
When used correctly, online waiver software will also help you find event attendees’ information, such as their:
- Demographics: Discover what age group, gender, and location the majority of your supporters and event participants fall into. If your audience skews younger, you may want to boost your online marketing strategies.
- Contact information: Easily send out promotions with the contact information provided on your waivers. However, check to make sure that participants have “opted-in” to your permission based marketing list before sending out solicitations or invites.
- History: Consider how participants have engaged with your nonprofit in the past. What activities have they participated in? Are they a repeat visitor? How long has it been since they last visited? This is a great way to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your outreach efforts.
Let your supporters know you look forward to seeing them in the future, and consider offering perks like discounts, event merchandise, and other incentives to reconnect with your organization. With the extra data collection enabled by waivers, you’ll have a stable foundation on which to build stronger outreach and engagement strategies over time.
4. Reduced Paper Footprint
Finally, if your organization strives to be socially and environmentally responsible, online waivers completely eliminate the need for wasteful paper. This, of course, is an environmental plus and can make a good impression on your community, but there are even more benefits.
As previously mentioned, digital records mean less physical storage space will be required in your offices. You’ll also seriously cut down on the time needed for logistical and filing tasks.
Sorting through stacks of paper waivers can be an overwhelming task for your staff. Digital waivers come with paperless organization systems that can be managed from a single computer, rather than an overflowing file cabinet.
Your participants will also automatically receive digital copies of their signatures, rather than having to use a printer or mail off their signed form. Whether they fill out their documents online or on a kiosk at check-in, they won’t interact with paper at all.
Not to mention, paper and printing costs can add up quickly. If you host events that require or could require waivers, an online alternative will instantly result in a return on investment. Although online waivers may require some startup costs, they ultimately save you time and money in the long run.
To get started with online waivers, all your organization needs is a service provider and a basic computer system, which you probably already use in your day-to-day operations. After that initial setup, your organization will be ready to reap the benefits of online waivers.
With less paper, you’ll be able to focus on what matters most: providing a positive experience for your supporters.
Waivers help protect your nonprofit from legal damage and your supporters from harm. By taking those waivers digital, you will have important fundraising and marketing tools at your disposal.
From providing data insights to reducing waste, online waivers can take your events to the next level and drive your mission for years to come.