One of the things I love the most about my job is working with student groups. They are the most creative in designing their events. Not only do they think outside the box, they reach outside of it to make things happen. Now that school has started, clubs and classes might have started thinking about organizing an on-campus event.
Here are a few tips:
Start with what you want to accomplish. Your goal might be to raise funds, educate your peers, or have a school-to-community event. Determine what it is you want to accomplish first, then as a group have a giant brainstorming session to collect all the ideas you have to reach your goal. Don’t cross off any ideas in the brainstorming stage. Then walk away from list and come back the next meeting to narrow it down to exactly what type of event it will be.
Determine your location. Your location will determine all other parameters: date, times, what you can physically use, and how many people can come. While searching for a location, keep in mind your audience, access to the location, capacity, and times it might be available. Make sure your location helps you reach your goal rather than creating more obstacles to achieving it. For instance, if you want to do a film screening and serve food to raise funds, don’t show the film in a location that doesn’t allow food.
Delegate! Once the group has agreed on the general idea of the event, a location, and time, delegation begins. Depending on the size of your group, there are two ways you can do this. First, find SubTeam or Committee Chairs to lead on a specific task. These teams can be given the power to explore ideas and details associated with them, and even to make final decisions. This generally works if you have a large group. If you have a smaller group, the SubTeam/Committee Chair will need to use the whole group to explore ideas and make decisions, while being in charge of completing the task. Every event is different, but in general you might need leaders for outreach, food/beverage, speakers, donations/silent auction/raffle items/money, volunteer management, and programming/scheduling/speakers for the event.
Outreach, Outreach, Outreach. Do not wait until every detail is set to start doing outreach. The minute you have a location and a general idea of what the event will look like, you can start your outreach. You will need to do outreach to partner organizations/clubs (the more partners you have the more outreach = more attendees!), to vendors/donors, and to attendees. You will reach each of these in a slightly different way. Get creative and be personal. People attend or get involved because they were asked by a friend. This will be the key to getting people to come (and cool programming)!
These are just a few tips on organizing an event. In the coming weeks I will write more on what to do at your event to make it successful and follow-up after you’ve hosted it! Stay tuned.