Event Planning

Planning an event can be one of the most interesting and exciting projects that student organizations undertake. It can also provide some excellent concrete transferrable skills that will prepare participants for the future. If event planners follow some simple guidelines and answer some simple questions, the process can run very smoothly and be a positive experience.

Step 1: Identify Your PALs

Identify Your PALS

Before the balloons, before the catering, before the playlist, organizations must identify three important items:

  • Purpose. Why does the organization want to hold an event? Is it a fundraiser, to raise awareness, or just for fun?
  • Audience. Who is the event for? Is it for members only, or is it open to all students? Is it a community event?
  • Leadership. Who will be in charge of the planning process? Is it an individual, or a committee? How much authority does the individual or committee hold? Do the officers or other organization members need to approve their decisions? Will other organizations be co-sponsors of the event?
Step 2: Three Ws

Three Ws

Instead of five Ws, in this step the planning leadership should answer three more important questions:

  • What kind of event will be held? Will the organization hold a speaker, cater a banquet, celebrate a holiday? Is this an online event, an in-person event, or a hybrid event? What is the event going to be called?
  • Where could the event be held? Identify multiple options in case one is unavailable.
  • When are the preferred dates and times for the event? Again, identify multiple options.
Step 3: Dollars and Sense

Dollars and Sense

Often, the difference between a successful event and one that is not lies in the development of a realistic budget, one that the organization takes seriously and follows closely.

  • Examine the organization's finances and set a budget for the event.
  • Designate one person to serve as the treasurer for the event. That person should review and record all expenses from the planning process, as well as any revenue that may be generated at the event if applicable.
Step 4: Stop and Think

Stop and Think

Now that the organization has identified some of the basic information necessary to proceed with the event, it's time to stop and consider one more important point:

  • Define success for this event. Success, in terms of an event, can be measured by a wide variety of criteria. In some cases, success is measured by the number of attendees. It could be based on post-event feedback from the audience or performers. Staying within the budget could be a significant determining factor. Money raised, new members recruited, email contacts gathered--almost anything can be considered when assessing an event. Setting these benchmarks before the event will aid the leadership in the event planning process when decisions need to be made about the details.


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