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5 Free and Affordable Software Tools To Manage Your School Events

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When I was in high school, one of my favorite events was the weekly football games on Friday nights. I wasn’t a fan of the games themselves, but I enjoyed seeing friends from school, walking around, getting snacks to eat, and the occasional prank or two.

Outside of my own bubble, I never realized just how much went into organizing those weekly events, from coordinating food delivery to organizing raffles. Growing up in a smaller town meant football games were major events.  

I distinctly remember my school’s event managers record systems were made up entirely of paper and pen. A paper based system not only expends tons of resources, but leaves the door open for potential errors and efficiency issues. School administration software, especially school software built for event management, may be exactly what you need to increase productivity while cutting back on costs in order to manage football games and whatever other events you have planned.

Free and Affordable School Event Software Tools

In 2016, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that most states have either cut elementary/secondary school funding in the years after the Great Recession and continue to make cuts to this day. These cuts mean less money for “frivolous” spending such as software upgrades.

That is why it is important to find worthwhile software either for free or at a reasonable price. What qualifies as affordable software? According to The Washington Post, the cost per student in the United States ranges from $6,555 to $19,818 with an average cost of $10,700.

For this piece I’ve capped software prices no higher than $1,200 per year. This means monthly expenses are no higher than $100 per month which is peanuts when broken up amongst a multitude of students. Once you reach one hundred students, the software cost adds up to only $1 per student. As for schools who cannot swing those prices, I’ve also included a list of free event software options that will introduce you to these systems until you are able to upgrade.

Here are 5 free and affordable software tools to manage your school events.

[NOTE: Options are listed in alphabetical order]

Free Event Software

1. Odoo

Odoo offers a wide variety of applications for all sorts of needs, but their event management application really stands out. Their modern UI and features all give the impression of an expensive event management system, but so long as you stick to one app (in this case, the event management app), Odoo is completely free.

In addition to the core features one would expect from an event management system, Odoo also supports integration with Google Analytics and other SEO tools to make sure that your event campaigns are optimized and performing as they should. With schools as cash strapped as they are, each event must count and these analytics and reporting tools are perfect for measuring success and anticipating outcomes in the future.

If you decide to incorporate other Odoo apps, such as the website builder or email marketing, prices begin at $25 per user per month.

Features:

  • Attendee Management
  • Conferences/Seminars
  • Conventions
  • Exhibit/Vendor Management
  • Guest List Management
  • Registration Management
  • Social Promotion
  • Sponsorship Management
  • Ticketing

Pros Summary:

  • Solid core features
  • Extensive analytics and integrations
  • Attractive UI

Cons Summary:

  • Lacks email marketing unless you pay extra for additional app

2. Open Source Event Manager

Open Source Event Manager (OSEM) is a free and open source event management software option with all of the basic features necessary to schedule, organize, and manage school events. Even though OSEM is a free software option, I was immediately impressed with the clean and modern UI packed with features that are even found on some premium event software, such as room block management and multi-event tracking.

Since OSEM is open source, it also has the added benefit of customization through source code alterations, so long as your school has the programming talent to manage these changes.

Features:

  • Attendee Management
  • Conferences/Seminars
  • Conventions
  • Guest List Management
  • Registration Management
  • Room Block Management
  • Space/Room Setup
  • Sponsorship Management
  • Ticketing

Pros Summary:

  • Attractive UI, especially for an open source software
  • Includes premium features such as room block management and multi-event tracking

Cons Summary:

  • Source code customization difficult without coding knowledge

Affordable Event Software

1. EventLeaf

EventLeaf is an event management platform that bridges the gap between free and affordable software. Overall use of this tool is free, however if your event charges admissions fees, EventLeaf charges $1 plus 5% of the ticket amount. This pricing system works best for schools with plenty of free events and/or paid events with fewer attendees, since per registrant fees can add up quickly over several events. If you run a small private school or specialized school with a small student pool, EventLeaf is may save you money versus software with a monthly subscription.

Despite the potential cost, EventLeaf goes in-depth for a (mostly) free platform, including custom event page design, event analytics, third-party website integration, and registration screening.

One unique feature offered by EventLeaf that is rarely found on free software, even on many paid options, is the integration of RFID technology for tracking attendees and guiding them along your events.

Features

  • Attendee Management
  • Badge Management
  • Catering Management
  • Client/Customer Management
  • Conferences/Seminars
  • Conventions
  • Exhibit/Vendor Management
  • Guest List Management
  • Lead Retrieval
  • Registration Management
  • RFID Technology
  • Room Block Management
  • Social Promotion
  • Space/Room Setup
  • Sponsorship Management
  • Surveys & Feedback
  • Ticketing
  • Trade Shows
  • Travel Management

Pricing: $1 per transaction + 5% per registrant

Capterra User Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Pros Summary:

  • Loaded features list including RFID technology
  • In-depth reporting and integration
  • Attractive UI

Cons Summary:

  • Per registrant pricing system has the potential to add up quickly


If you’ve used EventLeaf in the past, be sure to
leave a review on our page!

2. Planning Pod

Planning Pod goes above and beyond to demonstrate the features of their software before you demo and buy, which goes a long way in my book. Each feature is laid out and explained in detail, using visual examples so you know exactly what it is you’re getting into. Speaking of visuals, Planning Pod also has an attractive UI to boot. The visually appealing and simple UI make it a good choice for schools with very little software experience.

The one area where Planning Pod falls short (but not as a deal breaker) is the shorter list of features. Every core function expected of an event management software is present, however for a paid software, some more advanced features such as social promotion or sponsorship management would be nice to have.

The pricing for Planning Pod is especially attractive since none of the standard tier packages exceed $100 per month. Pricing tiers are divided up into the number of events you plan to host each month, ranging from one event per month up to seventy events per month.

Features:

  • Attendee Management
  • Client/Customer Management
  • Exhibit/Vendor Management
  • Guest List Management
  • Lead Retrieval
  • Registration Management
  • Room Block Management
  • Space/Room Setup
  • Ticketing

Pricing: Starts at $9.99 per month

Capterra User Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pros Summary:

  • Attractive UI
  • Very affordable
  • Lots of integration capabilities

Cons Summary:

  • Shorter features list
  • Lacks social promotion

If you’ve used Planning Pod in the past, be sure to leave a review on our page!


3. Regpack

Regpack is actually number five for the twenty “Most Popular Event Management Software.”

Right off the bat, Regpack’s attractive UI caught my attention. Each function is clearly labeled with color differentiation that makes system navigation an easy task for school staff with little software experience. However the best part of Regpack is its automation abilities through a “conditional logic engine,” which aids in the process of filling out forms and ushering applicants through the registration process.

As for features, Regpack offers all expected core features of event management software, but misses a few useful functions, such as badge management and space/room setup. Overall, Regpack is a solid and affordable option.

Features:

  • Attendee Management
  • Client/Customer Management
  • Conferences/Seminars
  • Conventions
  • Exhibit/Vendor Management
  • Guest List Management
  • Lead Retrieval
  • Meetings
  • Registration Management
  • Social Promotion
  • Sponsorship Management
  • Surveys and Feedback
  • Ticketing
  • Trade Shows
  • Travel Management

Pricing: $49 per month + 2.1% payment processing per registrant

Capterra User Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pros Summary:

  • Automated registration system
  • Attractive UI
  • Offers all core event management features

Cons Summary:

  • Pricing is monthly AND per registrant
  • Missing a few potentially useful features

If you’ve used Regpack in the past, be sure to leave a review on our page!

Upgrade the rest of your school

Ditching pen and paper for technology doesn’t stop at managing your school events. There are lots of areas in education ready for an upgrade, but where should you start?

Discover new ways to introduce software and other technology to your school by keeping up to date with our school administration blog. Here are a few helpful articles to start you off:

Don’t forget to leave a review if you have used any of these software options or any others in our directory. We value your input!

Looking for School Administration software? Check out Capterra's list of the best School Administration software solutions.

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About the Author

Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a Content Writer for Capterra, a free resource that matches buyers and sellers of business software. He has a background in politics, economics, and journalism, which he dedicates his off-time to contributing his thoughts to other political sites. In his free-time he enjoys reading, playing guitar, writing, cooking, and dominating the world of video games.

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