SmartEvents: Handling Payments

smartevents_mainscreen copy

We use SmartEvents for all of our online even registration at Mount Pleasant Christian Church.  You may have questions about making payments.  This article should help you with as much as we virtually can.  (This works best if you have already activated your account.)

The image above is the top of the main screen when you go to the main page of the MPCC SmartEvents account.  https://mountpleasant.smartevents.com

From here, you need to look in the top right corner at the little text that says “login”.

smartevents_mainscreen_login

The most common mistake people make is clicking on the event title.  That is fine when you are registering for an event for the first time.  However, when you are making a second payment or paying off your balance, it makes things messy and confusing.  The little login in the top right is your friend.  Always go to him.

Once you click there, you’ll see this, the login screen:

smartevents_login

This is a very important step.  It’s easy to get confused and mess this up, so please read carefully.

SmartEvents is setup so you can use the same email with different passwords to denote different family members.  For example, I use my email with one password that logs into my account.  I use the same email address and a different password and I now access my son’s account.  (This is a little confusing.  I have requested that the company modify the login setup.  But this is how it works right now.)

So, it is very important that after you register and activate your account, you remember which email address and password goes with which person.  If you forget, simply Email Me requesting it be reset.  Be sure to be specific about which family member you would like reset.  Then, I’ll reply to you with a reset email and password so you can login correctly for the correct person.  From there, you can change the password to something confidential.

If you don’t do this, you do what so many people have done.  You create a new account.  No information is saved for autofill.  It’s more work for you.  It’s annoying for me.  I have to go in and merge the different accounts into one.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see this screen.

smartevents_loggedin

In this example, I’ve logged into my son’s account, so that is why his name shows up in the top right.  Notice that next to events you now have a My Account tab; the top right shows which user you have logged in as; and the login tab has now changed to a logout.

From here, there is a list of events, if you have registered for more than one in the past.  You need to find the line with the event that has an outstanding balance due.  It will look something like this:

smartevents_myaccount_event

When you click on view you will be taken to a screen that has all your information related to this event registration.  It will look something like this:

smartevents_view_00

You have found a goldmine here!  You can see in bold print how much money you still owe for the event:

smartevents_view_01

Now you have two options.  This can be very simple or very frustrating.  Follow my advice and it’ll be simple.

You can simply click Paypal and pay online with your Paypal account.  Or, you can bring cash or a check to the church in an envelope with the registrant’s name on it and event name.  Paid.  Simple.  (By the way, here’s the best way to drop off payment or forms and make sure I get them in a way that is simple for all of us: Dropping Off Payment or Forms)

If you try to figure out a way to use your credit or debit card without Paypal, you’ll get frustrated.  We pay fees to SmartEvents for registration.  We also pay fees to Paypal.  In trying to keep costs down, we have not setup the church SmartEvents account to be able to accept credit or debit cards, because there would be an additional, high fee involved, which would increase the cost for our events.  So, that’s the reason we only are setup with Paypal for online payments.

As a side note, remember that at the bottom of this page, you can see a list of any forms that are required for this event.  If you need to submit any, they will show up similar to this.

smartevents_view_02

You can click on each to get a pdf copy for you to fill out and submit.

Make sure when you are done, you click logout on the top right of the screen.

Now you know how to simply make a payment with SmartEvents.  (Cue the rainbow and theatrical soundtrack, along with applause!)

As always, please email me if you have any questions.  And remember, we do have four computer workstations setup in the Student Ministries Center that all can access SmartEvents.  If you need help working through registering for an event, setting up your SmartEvents account, resetting your email address and password, getting the forms you need, or making a payment, I’d be happy to walk you through it with an in-person tutorial!  Just email me to setup a time that is convenient for both of us.

Parents Partnering & Collaborating in Community

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What if…

What if we used our online spaces to help us stay connected instead of get distracted?

What if parents who have a good thing going shared some of that wisdom and struggling parents were humble and brave enough to ask and receive that help?

What if the fifty-six and seventy8 Facebook pages could be those places? Maybe I could add some blogs for each ministry to compliment what is happening on social media, but make it more accessible outside of Facebook & Twitter.

What if we lent each other a hand so all of us parented better and our kids all benefitted from that collaboration?

Tell me your thoughts. Leave a comment here or email me. I’m looking for anything from subjects you’d like to see me blog about to questions you’d like to see other parents answer. You’re interaction helps shape this community. It may not be a national election, but you are still very important and you’re voice definitely matters! (No electoral college here.)

Email Mike

Image by Baloozer on Flickr.

Making Smart Events Faster and Easier for You!

Our church is really beginning to utilize “Smart Events” for online registration. As a Pastor, I love having this technology available.  As a parent, I want to make life simpler, not more complicated.  That’s why, when I observed what has been happening, I saw the need to post this practical entry. Many of you who are using Smart Events, may not realize one of the greatest benefits of this tool: autofill!  Once you activate an account with Smart Events, your information is stored in a database and automatically fills in registration information whenever you login and sign up for an event. If you’re scratching your head when you read “activate my account,” this article is for you.

After you register the first time on Smart Events, you receive an email that includes the following text at the bottom.

You need to click on the blue “activate it now!” text to setup your account.  Once you do that, all future registrations are much easier and faster!

After you have activated your account, you need to look for the top right corner of the smart events screen.  You are looking for this:

When you see this, you can click on “www.mpcc.info” anytime to go to the church’s main site.  However, for our purposes, you should click on the secure login marked “login” with the lock icon next to it.   This will take you to the next screen.

Enter your email address and password that you setup when you activated the account.

Now each time you need to register, common information like address, phone number, etc. will automatically be filled in by Smart Events for you!

If all of this still leaves you confused or frustrated, please contact me about setting up a time to come to the Student Ministries Center.

We have computers on workstations there where I can walk you through this process in person.   The time it takes to do that will more than pay for itself in the time it saves you for future registrations!

Thanks!!!  Happy Registering! -mike

Smart Events: The Online Event Registration Solution

(This is part of my Technology and Ministry series.)

One of the biggest headaches in preparing for an event, especially in student ministry, is the registration process.

In order for me to get my group’s registration form turned in with our deposit, I first have to get students to register and collect their deposits.  That can be a paperwork nightmare!

What if all the registration details could be handled by families from home?

What if most of the payments would be processed automatically online?

What if sorting students into groups or assigning to multiple vehicles wasn’t such a hassle?

What if this was possible no matter what kind or size of event you were doing?

It is now!  Sound like an infomercial?  It’s not, but it should be.

Check out SmartEvents.com.

We have only been using SmartEvents at our church for a few months, but already it is becoming a favorite resource for both staff and families.

This resource allows you to post your event information online where anyone can view and register.

If an event is free, there is no charge for using the service.

If the event has a fee, you pay a small fee of 1.5%.  (Keep in mind, as with any online registration tool, you also pay a percentage to PayPal and any other payment processing resource you use.)  We only accept PayPal for online payments, to keep our fees at a minimum.  People also have the option to pay by cash or check in person.

Getting started is very simple.  Check this video out to see what I mean:

We link the SmartEvents main registration page to our facebook pages and our main church website.

People are loving this new system!

Assigning students into groups is as simple as drag-and-drop or even one-click “auto-assign.”

 

You have quick and easy visual cues to help you track and update payment information:

No more wondering who has which form to turn in.  You can easily track it and families can download it from the site 24/7!

You can setup custom pricing (early-bird discounts, scholarships), easily setup groups for rooms or vehicle assignments (with a sweet auto assign feature), and can even include an event schedule.

We love this site a ton.  You can see how we are using ours here:

https://mountpleasant.smartevents.com/

For folks who need help or who don’t have a good internet connection at home, we have a computer workstation setup in our lobby where they can login and register on site too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments or questions.  This really has turned out to be a great tool for getting people registered for an event.  And I haven’t even touched on all the custom question options, various ways you can customize and export data into helpful reports, and how they plan to integrate this with PlanningCenterOnline!

On a side note, they are great at getting back with you when you have questions or feature requests.  This seems to be the same team who works on PlanningCenterOnline.  Right now, that resource is getting most of the attention for development.  However, Smart Events is a great start and better than anything else I have seen online.

It is simple.  Looks great.  And was definitely built with student ministry in mind!

Check it out!  I recommend getting setup and using it for a free event to see how it all works.

You might ask why people would register for a free event.  Thanks to personal experience and wisdom from others, we found two ways to get families to register for a free event: prizes and games.

1) You tell students that you will draw a name from all those who register online by the deadline.  Then, only those who registered online and by the deadline get a chance to win a gift card or whatever prize works for you.  Those who didn’t qualify definitely will make sure they do next time!

2) Ever hate announcing a game only then having to pick from the screaming group who gets to play?  On the registration form, create custom drop down lists of game choices.  Allow students to pick their top three in order.  Then, when you are ready to play the game, simply call out names from the lists you had ahead of time!

Whether it is a simple game night at church or a week long summer road trip, Smart Events does what it says.  It will “revolutionize the way you plan events.”