What You Need to Know

Before you use CiviEvent to support your event management, we recommend you read this chapter to understand the concepts and address key questions. 

Take time to assess the kind of information you need to run your events effectively, as well as what information would be useful to collect during events and from event participants. Many organisations run recurring events that are very similar, in which case templates can make event set-up processes easier.

Below are the key concepts that you need to understand, followed by a list of concrete questions that will help you to use CiviEvent effectively. You'll also find mentions of other CiviCRM components that are needed to use CiviEvent. At the end of this chapter, Other Considerations gives suggestions for promoting, managing, and following up after your event. 

Key Concepts

Review the following concepts before you begin to set up your event. You will put these concepts into practical use when following the step-by-step tasks in the next chapters of this section.

Event Type

CiviCRM allows you to define different types of events, such as conference, meeting or fundraiser. Event types are useful when searching through event participants or generating an event listing feed. For example, Arts in Action may find it useful to search for everyone who has attended a youth leadership workshop, or generate a list of meetings for volunteers.

You can create custom fields to store and display additional data about an event by its event type. See the chapter Creating Custom Fields in the section Your Data and CiviCRM for more information about this.

Participant Roles and Statuses

Every individual is assigned a participant role, such as attendee, volunteer or speaker, at the time of registration. This field allows you to segment participants into meaningful categories based on their involvement in the event. You can also collect certain information, for example relevant only to volunteers.

Participant status tracks individuals' registration before, during and after the event. This allows you to identify pending or canceled registrations, people on a waiting list, no-shows, confirmed attendance or any other status that you choose to define. 

Custom data and Profiles

CiviCRM provides ample flexibility for you to collect exactly the information you want from participants during the event management process. This is done using custom fields.

Participants must provide at least an email address when registering online, but many organisations find it useful to collect additional information at the same time. This might include first and last name, as well as event-specific information such as meal preference. For example, Arts in Action asks participants to select which workshops they want to register for.

You must create a profile to collect this additional information. Creating a profile groups these fields together and associates them with the event to collect this information. You may also define your own custom fields and associate them with certain event types or participant roles. You'll be able to view participant custom data fields automatically when you access the information through CiviEvent. You can also let participants fill them out in the online event registration via profiles. See the chapter Creating Custom Fields in the section Your Data and CiviCRM for more information about this.


Event fees provide a set of options from which the registrant must select a single option. This approach works well for many events and is easy to set up. Price sets allow you to break event fees into smaller pieces, and set a fee for each piece. Using a price set you can offer optional programmes and features (e.g. an optional post-conference dinner or a book) at extra cost. CiviEvent also lets you offer discounts for paid events either with a discount code or by early sign-up date. Examples and steps are described in the Set-up chapter of this section.

Fees coming in via events are tracked as contributions using CiviContribute. You will need to decide what type of contributions your event fees are.  

If you plan to accept credit card payments through the online registration form, you need to configure a payment processor prior to creating your event.

Key Questions

Thinking about the structure of your event and how you want a person to experience the event registration will help to inform the level of additional configuration you need and how to set up the event. Here are some important questions to consider with regard to the key concepts of CiviEvent discussed above. 

  • What type of event is this, and what different types of events does your organisation hold?
  • What different roles will participants have at the event? 
  • What specific information you want to collect about participants, e.g., food and lodging preferences?
  • What kind of information will you need to gather from event participants?
  • Will this be a paid event? 
  • If it's a paid event, what type of contribution do you consider this event fee? 
  • What kind of fee structure will you need to hold your event?
  • Will you charge multiple fees, such as fees for additional sessions or meals? 
  • Will you offer discounts or early registration?
  • Will you allow online registrations to the event?
  • Is there a limit on the number of participants that can attend?
  • Do you want to approve registration, or leave it open to anyone?
  • Will there be a waitlist if the maximum number of registrations is exceeded?
  • Should one person to be able to register multiple people?
  • Do you want to give registrants confirmation of registering?
  • Do you want to make the listing of the participants public? 
  • Is this an event that repeats regularly with roughly the same details?

Other Considerations

You may wish to consider some of the following depending on your needs.

Promoting the Event

Think about the best ways target participants could get information about your event and which tools can help you promote it:

  • What strategy will you use to promote your event, and through what channels?
  • Will you be posting your event on your website and allow people to register online?
  • Is email a good way to reach your constituents to market the event? 
  • Is your event "by invitation only"? Who are you are inviting?
  • Have you planned a schedule to announce your event from the initial invitation to sending out event reminders?  

Managing the Event

The event management tasks vary depending on the type of event you're planning and the venue, and CiviCRM supports these tasks through many event and communication tools, along with its searching and reporting features.

Consider how staff and those managing the event will keep track of participant registration and participants' needs. Read about how to do this using the event dashboard in Everyday Tasks.

Following up after the Event

Updating the status of each participant during the event or soon after will help to ensure that you have the most accurate information to evaluate your event.

It is good practice to send an email after the event to all the participants to thank them and provide links to any documentation you have online. You might want to use this opportunity to promote a new event, suggest that attendees join your organisation as a member, or solicit donations for a specific campaign.