Case Study: Allowing Participants to Update Their Participation Type after Registration

A National Peer-to-Peer Walk/Run Event Increases Self-Service Options for Participants Using Blackbaud’s Luminate Online®

Project Description

During the pandemic, most if not all nonprofits switched their in-person peer-to-peer events to virtual. But as vaccines became available and social distancing rules relaxed, organizations started offering hybrid events. Hybrid events are events in which participants may either participate in person or virtually to ensure people may participate in the way that works best for them.

While participants have the option of selecting the way they want to participate during registration, sometimes things change. In Luminate Online®, Blackbaud’s fundraising platform, once a participation type is selected, participants are unable to edit their participation type. One national top 30 peer-to-peer walk/run event wanted to improve upon this user experience and allow participants to edit their participation type after registration. Not only does this empower the participant, but it can deliver segmented content and relieve some of the administrative burden on staff and helpdesks.


For its 2021 Walk, this national peer-to-peer event offered a hybrid event setup for in-person and virtual participants. Having more than one participation type is useful so that event organizers can guesstimate event attendance and appropriately plan event logistics. Many things such as parking to food to health and safety are planned based on expected event attendance. In addition, savvy marketers may want to speak differently to participants, based on whether they will be walking in person or virtually. Bottom line, it is useful to encourage participants to clearly state their intentions to be onsite or virtual using the participation type functionality that is native to Luminate Online.

When the nonprofit was advance planning the event series, the future of the COVID-19 epidemic was unknown, and the nonprofit was concerned some participants might be nervous about returning to in-person events. They didn’t want people to hesitate while registering simply because they weren’t sure if they would be comfortable walking in person when the event occurred. The strategy was partly driven by a desire to maintain or increase conversion rates on the registration form. They didn’t want participants to feel locked in; they wanted people to feel that it was easy to change their mind later, if needed—whether due to a shift in the pandemic severity or their own personal plans and commitments. In short, they wanted their participants to have a sense of flexibility and remove apprehension about completing registration earlier in the season. As we know, early registration is often a key indicator for fundraising performance and once participants are registered, nonprofits can begin to activate them for fundraising!


  • Typically, when a person registers for the event, the participation type is fixed (in person or virtual). Changes after registration require direct assistance from the organization’s staff.
  • The online experience for this event is tailored based on whether a participant is registered for the in-person or virtual event. Select content and icons change, based on their selection, as might be expected for people who are planning to attend an event versus those that are planning to walk in their own neighborhood.
  • To ensure that people were served the correct experience, the organization added the ability for a participant to update their participation type themselves. A person could log in to their Participant Center and click “edit my participant type” to switch from in person to virtual or vice versa. This self-service functionality reduces the one-off administrative load on staff fielding calls for participants and allows the organization to manage data updates in batches.
  • On the Charity Dynamics Boundless Fundraising mobile app, participants were also given the functionality to switch their participation type. This would trigger a corresponding content change on the app home page. For example, if a person switched from in person to virtual, the home page would switch to say “My Virtual Event Experience.”
  • While the feature does not actually update the participation type in the backend of Luminate Online, it does provide tracking of who has used the feature so that national admins can periodically make actual adjustments for tracking and reporting on behalf of local events. In the meantime, the participant is satisfied that the registration has been updated based on their action taken.


  • The ability to select participation type was introduced on the organization’s website for the 2021 event, and the feature was being rolled out as part of the event’s mobile fundraising app for 2022.
  • On the mobile app, participants also would be able to switch their participation type, which would trigger a corresponding content change on the app home page. For example, if a person switched from in person to virtual, the home page would switch to say “My Virtual Event Experience.”