Develop Event Goal and Objectives

The very first step is to establish a tangible goal and objective.  Why are you organizing this event and what do you hope to achieve?  

Organize a Team

Any event takes a concerted team effort to handle all of the details.  Consider identifying one key committee member to serve as the event chair as well as individual chairpersons for subcommittees.  Examples of subcommittees could include venue, speakers, entertainment, publicity, sponsors, transportation, volunteer management, etc.

Set a Date

Be sure to consider the following before firming up the date of your event.

  • Give yourself enough time--ideally, you should have 4-6 months to plan--but this depends upon the nature of your event.
  • Be aware of holidays
  • Avoid school holidays or major events
  • Check dates with key participants (speakers/presenters, VIP guests, stakeholders)

Brand Your Event

If you want your event to stand out, you need to choose a timely and compelling theme that sets you apart.  Come up with a dynamic overall theme and give serious consideration to the name of your event.  It can be a key attention-getter, especially in online media.  While brainstorming names think about what you are trying to achieve through this event.  Create a tagline--a short, memorable branding slogan that describes the event.  Design a logo to represent your event.  A logo can be an effective branding tool and can be used to brand t-shirts, water bottles, bags, etc. is a free online graphic design site that makes creating a logo easy.

Create a Master Plan 

The plan should include all aspects of the event including:

  • Venue selection and logistics and catering (contracts, permits, insurance, meal selection, caterer, etc.)
  • Speakers/presenters (identifying, confirming, logistics and management)
  • Activities/entertainment
  • Publicity/promotion--both online and off-line (web page, online promotion, events calendars, printed programs, media relations, signage, social media, etc.)
  • Sponsor/partner management
  • Volunteer management--When getting volunteers, remember people volunteer for different reasons (hot buttons) such as wanting to make a difference, having social opportunities to get to know new people, or they may be motivated by learning or experiencing something new.  Positive volunteer experiences means they may volunteer again.  A negative volunteer experience means they won't, and they will tell others.  Make sure your volunteers feel welcomed and that they feel like an active participant.  They need to feel like what they did mattered and that it was worth their time.

Determine Administrative Processes

How are you going to keep track of your planning, registration, budget, guests, and speakers lists?

Identify and Establish Partnerships & Sponsorships

Are there organizations that you could partner with or call on for sponsorships to defray the costs and increase potential participation?  When you involve other people or groups in your event, they have a stake in helping spread the word and making the event a success. 

You might want to consider:

  1. Seeking corporate sponsors to fund a portion of the event.  This can range from national organizations that might want to sponsor a dinner, offer a door prize or a key silent auction item, to local businesses that might be able to provide goods or services, such as flowers for the tables, gift bag items, etc.
  2. Partner with community organizations who might be able to offer a venue and/or assistance with organizing or staffing the event.

Create a Publicity Plan

Even with the most amazing speaker or entertainment line-up, you need publicity to get people in the door. Event promotion starts with the initial notice or page on your website, note in your newsletter or email to save the date, and then builds to include online and off-line publicity, media relations and on-going outreach to encourage registration.  No plan is complete without the post-event thank-you's, sponsor acknowledgements and articles about the event's key messages or fundraising success.

Establish a Budget

Your budget should incorporate estimates for all of the key items identified on your event master plan.  Don't forget to include any travel or accommodation costs for speakers and presenters.

Evaluate the Event

How will you determine if your event was a success?  Do you measure success by the number of attendees?  The amount of money you raised?  The message?  How you engaged members or the public?  When you set your initial goals and objectives, you should consider how you will evaluate the event to determine your success.