The Basics: Planning an Event

Do you want to plan an event but have no idea where to start? This guide will provide you with a few best practices and tips for a successful event.

Events are an important way to raise awareness about the work of the UN and your campus chapter. By holding a fun event, you can help educate and empower young people to make a difference in your community, grow your membership, fundraise, and more!

Step One: Identify Needs

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • What would you like them to see and experience with this event? Typically, the primary focus of UNA chapter events is around education, outreach and advocacy on an issue.
  • How big do you want the event to be? Does this type of event limit the audience size? If so, how will you determine who can and cannot attend?
  • Who do you want to influence with your event? Consider your government officials, media/press and your campus community.
  • Will this event be a fundraiser for your group?

Step Two: Develop Event Goals and Objectives

  • What is the purpose of your event?  How does this impact when, where and how it will take place?
  • What are the desired outcomes of your program?
  • What do you want the participants to learn or experience from your event?

Step Three: Determine a location

  • Choose a location that best fits your needs, size, and goals.
  • Book the venue of your event early in the planning process. Most campus events require registration with the administration well in advance.

Step Four: Establish committees

  • Once you’ve determined your event type, location and purpose, start delegating responsibilities to committees.
  • Committees can be a useful way to get a lot done quickly. Some examples of different types of committees include advocacy, advertising and promotion, location, and finance.
  • Allow members of your event planning team to sign up for committees-- if they choose the one they are most interested in, they will be more likely to work harder toward your goal.

Step Five: Organize the Details

  • Establish a budget that includes each item you will need to spend money on. See if you can acquire grant funding from your school or pool resources with your partners. 
  • Make a list of what needs to be done before, during and after the event. This might include equipment needs, registration tables, volunteers, printing, and more. Even the smallest details should be written down, and someone should be responsible for each item before the event takes place!
  • Prioritize your goals by creating a reverse timeline. Begin at the day of the event and list deadlines you must accomplish between now and then.

Step Six: Publicize

  • Publicity is vital to the success of your event. You can plan an amazing program but if nobody knows about it, you will forego an opportunity for impact. Even the best events cannot succeed without proper promotion.
  • Publicity can include posters, flyers, banners, email invites, Facebook and social media ads, and more-- get creative!
  • Create eye-catching flyers and posters to draw in supporters and potential attendees.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great ways to spread the word far and fast. Make an event page, promote it, and ask your members to invite their friends. Update the event in the lead-up to generate enthusiasm.

Step Seven: Form Partnerships

  • One of the best ways to reach wider audiences is to promote your event with partners. Think about like-minded organizations that will help you draw attention to your event.
  • Your partnership will depend on the nature and goals of your event. Identify the type of collaboration you would like to establish before reaching out to potential organizations, and check out UNA-USA’s partnership guide for more suggestions and best practices.

Step Eight: Execute Plans

  • Once you have thoroughly prepared for the event, create clear expectations of who will perform what tasks and fulfill which roles.
  • Be sure to give people enough time to execute responsibilities and make sure they are able to do the tasks you have requested.
  • Create an event program or a handout for participants. It should be short but sweet and informative. Grab their attention and have a compelling focus without creating an information overload.
  • Have a backup plan! No matter how well you plan, unexpected issues can arise any time. Be flexible and make sure you have enough staffers to sort out any problems that might come up.
  • Test any A/V or media equipment well in advance and make sure you know how to use them. Have a ‘plan b’ in case of technical difficulties or no-shows.

Step Nine: Follow up

  • Be grateful! Thank attendees after the event for coming and offer more opportunities to get more involved.
  • Send thank you cards to speakers and performers.
  • Do a little bragging! Share your event’s success on social media and your chapter’s website.
  • After your event, visit the Stories from the Field section of the GenUN website to tell your story and inspire other campus chapters. Good luck!