WFH NETWORK

November 2015 / Volume 3, No. 6

Event planning part one: Pre-event, setting the stage

Organizing an event is a great way for a youth group to work collaboratively towards a concrete and meaningful goal. It has many benefits, such as discovering more about programs and events in the bleeding disorders community, building networks, finding new members and volunteers, and gaining new life experiences. Whether organizing a small group activity or a large multiday conference, there are several important principles to event planning.

Identify the rationale

Everything starts with an idea. Whether this comes from an individual or is a group decision, use it as a starting point for brainstorming. You can draw on events you’ve attended for inspiration and tips on event organization, like booking a venue or structuring your program.

Knowing why you want to organize an event is essential to its success – you need to set a goal to work towards. Wanting to make a change, raise funds, or simply have an educational or fun event are all valid reasons to start planning one, but you should be able to identify one clear objective.

Once the goal is set, you need to get the youth group on board. Present the idea with enthusiasm, but be prepared for questions by developing the idea and having solutions ready for possible problems. Be flexible and adapt your plans to incorporate the members’ ideas, then it becomes their event too, not just everyone trying to follow your singular vision.

Do the groundwork

Having decided your WHY, work as a team to determine the other W’s: WHAT kind of event it is, WHOM it is for, and WHERE and WHEN it will be held. The event objective helps formulate its primary content and will guide the WHO of your audience.

Thinking about the format of the event will answer your what. Is it a one-track conference (one session at a time), multi-track (several parallel sessions), or a half-day workshop, for example? Once you know the content and format, you can create a loose schedule with an idea of how long sessions should be and whether to include meals.

Start to brainstorm potential venues. Consider mobility issues, not just within the venue itself but also in getting there. Think about prospective speakers and/or workshop leaders. You must have an idea of when you would like to host the event in order to book speakers and the venue. Be sure to give yourself enough time to plan properly. Be aware of statutory and religious holidays, and check dates with key participants.

The success of your event depends directly on the ability of your event planning team to fulfill their roles. If you are planning a smaller event, the details of the roles may be simpler, but you still need someone to be responsible for each area.

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Role call! The event planning team

Event Manager (usually the team leader)
Directly manages and organizes the work of the entire team, participating in all phases of preparation, execution, and evaluation. Provides advice, support and assistance, delegates tasks, and deals with conflicts.

Finances
Prepares the budget and gathers necessary funds. Coordinates the material and financial needs of team members, keeps track of payments, and creates the final financial report.

Programming
Plans the whole program, from breakfasts to conferences, workshops, and activities. Contacts speakers and participants, liaises with the logistics, accommodation, and technical support teams, plans evening events, and makes contingency plans.

Accommodation
Finds suitable accommodation for all event participants, bearing in mind any mobility issues. Everyone should ideally stay in one hotel or hostel, or at least in close proximity to one another. This person may also be responsible for lunch and dinner reservations.

Logistics
Responsible for transportation of event participants to the venue and around the city during the event, plus for any excursions or sight-seeing activities, if applicable.

Technical Support
Prepares halls and meeting rooms, and ensures that all necessary audio-video equipment is present and functional.

Website
Maintains and updates event website. They are not responsible for content, but for functionality.

Public Relations (PR)
Targets and contacts media to increase interest in the event, the youth group, and your cause. Student and hemophilia chapter newspapers and newsletters are a great place to start.


Design your promotions

Branding your event can attract greater interest and differentiate it from others. Brainstorm names with your objective in mind and create a tagline – a short, catchy slogan that describes the event. Finally, design a logo to represent the event. It will be key to your publicity efforts and can be printed on promotional items.

Recruit sponsors

There are three categories of sponsorship: media, who help promote the event; partners who share resources, and financial contributors. In addition to corporate sponsors you could approach national and local government; affiliated organizations who may want to sponsor a dinner or presentation; pharmaceutical companies who could sponsor a treatment area; your regional or national tourist agency; restaurants that could offer discounts on group dinners, etc.

Stay on top of the details

Create a master plan that includes all aspects of the event, such as:

  • Venue, logistics, and catering management (booking, contracts, permits, insurance, etc.)
  • Speakers/presenters (identifying, confirming, logistics, management)
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Publicity/promotion (on- and off-line, e.g. website, banner ads, event calendars, PR, social media, etc.)
  • Registration (invitations, online and on-site registration, including payment)
  • Sponsor and partner management
  • Volunteer management

Use a checklist to ensure that all essential tasks get done on time.

There are many moving parts involved in organizing a successful event, but with good planning and team management, you will get there. The better you plan out and manage the details, the better your team will be able to enjoy learning new skills and working together towards a worthwhile goal.

 

What's next?
Preparation is a big part of making sure that your event goes smoothly. However, there are still many things to do once participants arrive. Keep reading to find out more about successfully running your event.

Questions that require an answer are marked with  *
   
What has been your group’s most successful event thus far? What did you find challenging about the organizing process?