Identify the "Program Concept"
Determine the goals of the program. Examples: to bring a community together, to educate, to expose individuals to different points of view, to support other programs, to provide entertainment, to provide opportunities, to socialize, or to relax.
Then brainstorm the type of program and possible themes that will match your goals. Examples: speaker, film, dance, fundraiser, trip, food, festival, athletic event, recreation, tournament, quiz bowl contest.
Who is your target audience and how many people do you expect?
Aim high, but be realistic. How long has the event been held? What else is going on that day? Who and how large is your membership. These will definitely affect your attendance and audience, as well as affect how much supply (food, space, etc.) you will need to hold your event, but a well programmed (and advertised) event can achieve anything!
By accurately predicting your event size, your organization will not fall to the misfortune of over-spending nor be caught short on supplies; therefore missing out on your event's full potential.
What is the date of the event?
It's a good idea to have a couple of back-up dates. Don't plan events too close together. Your group needs time to focus on an event and you want to make sure attendance will be good. Make sure the event won't conflict with other organization events that are similar or popular. Also, consider how the day of the week and nearby holidays will influence attendance at your event.
What time will the event begin and end?
Consider how the starting time will affect attendance and also how different starting times will affect your event. It usually isn't appropriate for cultural dinners to start at 11 am, but 4 pm is a possibility.
If your event has different themes or parts, how should those be organized and advertised to increase accessibility to the student body and increase the effectiveness of the event?
Where will the event be held?
Thwing, The Tink, The Oval, a classroom… Make sure you'll have enough room, the facilities will meet your needs, and that it is available. See the Campus Services section for more information about reserving a space. Spaces can be reserved through the Spartan Reservation System.
How should the room be set up?
Chairs in a circle, lecture, solid conference, open conference, banquet rounds, classroom…
Do you need any extra equipment?
Lectern, whiteboard, risers, garbage can, easel, coat rack, piano, music stand, flag, support technology? Work with each building manager to arrange for these details.
Are you going to have food? What are your options?
Check out some on-campus catering options. Another lower-cost and popular option is delivery or carryout from a local restaurant. And of course, Giant Eagle or Costco are always possibilities.
If your event's food is to be provided by an allocation from the USG Finance Committee, be conscious of your price limits.
Always be aware of the catering policies in each building.
Will you need security?
Large events need security. CWRU Public Safety provides this service, requiring an hourly fee for each guard. To learn more, review the Event Security Guidelines, or submit an online Event Security Request.
What is the title of this event?
It needs to be catchy, yet descriptive of what's going on. The title of the event is the first thing to which your potential audience will be exposed. Use a short title that will generate the most interest without causing confusion over the intent of your event.
How will the event be promoted
Flyers, chalkings, hot cards (leaflets), Facebook, CampusGroups, digital information displays ys (login required), banners, USG/UPB newsletter, the Daily, email lists… Design publicity strategies for targeted audiences. Design your promotion to fit the style and theme of the program (educational, serious, festive, informational).
What is the budget for the program?
What are your expenses and sources of income? Have you requested funding from your recognizing organization? List all of your expenses and all of your income and make sure you come out at least even.
Make a list of tasks that must be completed before the program
Include publicity and advertising pieces, space reservations, purchasing items, USG forms and contracts, and all other details. Consider putting together a team specifically for planning the logistics of the event apart from the team that is actually planning the event.
Sometimes the people with the best ideas for the event aren't the same as the best people in your organization for managing all the details of the event. Then using a calendar, plan the dates when all tasks must be completed. Make sure you stick to this schedule as closely as possible.
Is there anything else that needs to be covered?
Have you covered all aspects of the program? Additional possibilities are: decorations, cleanup, security, and volunteers.
Put the program in motion
Use the calendar to make sure you're on target. Check up on members to ensure jobs are getting done and everyone is staying on task. Make sure you have all aspects of your event lined up.
What to do the day of the program?
Come early to check on room arrangements and setup. Prepare a brief introductory statement. For example, "Welcome to tonight's performance sponsored by (organization name). If you are interested in having more events like this one, please talk to a representative from our organization."
Be prepared for setbacks
No matter how well you've planned an event, things may go wrong. In the event that changes need to be made, be prepared. Maybe you forgot to order something, maybe you didn't order enough of something. Keep a list of contact information for vendors. Have a backup plan of easily executable tasks. It may not be what you initially wanted, but some-thing is better than nothing.
Don't stress out, enjoy the event!
After planning and preparing to the best of your ability, don't forget to relax and enjoy the event yourself!
Do an evaluation of the program at the next meeting
Determine if you have accomplished your program goals. Record results (positive/negative) for future planning and store results with group's historical documents for future use. Make an analysis of what went well and how your event could have been improved. Prepare financial statement of actual expenditures. And of course, send thank you notes to the appropriate people.