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Planning Steps

Are you having trouble getting started? Here is a general list of steps you’ll need to take in order to plan a successful event on campus. Don’t forget, all events are different. You may not need every step in some cases, and in some cases you may need more!

1. Come up with the idea

  • What is the goal or purpose of your event?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • When and where do you want it to take place?
  • What will your event consist of (live performer, reception, vendors, dinner, etc.)?
  • You may need to do some research about your target and how successful your event would be with your target. (Surveys are a great way to find this out, especially if you’re bringing a performer!)

2. Make a list

  • Brainstorm a list of everything you’ll need to do in order to make your event a success. The steps listed on this page will help you decide most of what you’ll need to do, but make sure to think about the details that are specific for your event!
  • Create a timeline of what you need to do from the very beginning to the very end. Here is an Event Planning Timeline that can help you in your planning process.

3. Breakdown the budget

  • What are your expenses? (Performer fees, venue rental fees, technical equipment rental, catering, security, advertising, decorations, vendors, event supplies, etc.)
  • Will you be selling tickets? If so, what is your estimated revenue? To sell tickets with a student charge option, contact the MSA/GPC Box Office.
  • Will you need or do you have sponsors for your event?
  • Here is a budget worksheet that the Department of Student Activities uses: DSA Budget
  • Here is a more general budget worksheet: General Event Budget

4. Reserve the venue

  • Venue space fills up quickly, especially on campus. It is a good idea to reserve your venue as soon as you can.
  • Make sure you are aware of venue policies and fees.
  • Reserve any rain sites or Street Use Form you may need.
  • Visit the Venue Reservations page for more information on how to reserve space on campus.

5. Contracts and other reservations

  • Book your talent, novelty vendors, food vendors, catering, etc. This process requires negotiation. It is important to never reveal your budget to those you are trying to negotiate with. Evaluate what you’re asking for, figure out the benefits for the other party to work with you, and work with them to create a reasonable fee. Make sure you look at multiple options before deciding on one.
  • If you are a University entity, the University Performance Agreement is the form you use. If you are a student group not using University money, contact Student Legal Services for help involving contracts. If you are a student organization trying to use University money for an event, please contact ORG and follow their policies and procedures. Always check with your department or organization leaders before proceeding with any contracts.
  • Are there any forms or permits you need? Two of the most common forms and permits are a Food Permit, which you need if you are having any food or drink at your event (even catered food), and an Open Flames Permit, which you need if you have any venue-approved open flames such as candles, grills and Sterno.

6. Advertising plan

  • Allow enough time to get all materials designed and printed.
  • If ticketing your event, when will you have them on sale? Make sure to include this in advertisements if applicable.
  • Make a schedule of all advertising methods, when they will start, how long they will run, and how much they will cost. Here is an example Marketing Calendar that can help you develop a schedule for your advertising plan as well as a budget.
  • For more information on how to advertise on campus, visit the Advertising page.

7. Prepare for the event

  • Do you have staff or volunteers to help run your event?
  • Do you need to purchase anything for the day of your event (supplies, plates, napkins, utensils, cleaning supply, decorations, event staff identification, etc.)?
  • Do you need to make any ADA accommodations for your event?
  • What is your event layout? Make sure to consider the flow of traffic and safety of patrons.
  • Create an event agenda and distribute it to the appropriate parties (the venue, your adviser, event staff, etc.). Here is an example Event Agenda to use for the day of your event.

8. Implement the event

  • Prior to the event you may want to brief your staff on the event schedule and safety considerations.
  • Know who to call in case of emergencies or technical difficulties. See Safety and Considerations for more information.
  • Don’t forget to take a moment to step back and enjoy what you’ve put together!

9. Event evaluation

  • Make sure all supplies are put away, everyone you owe is paid, and you’ve thanked everyone who helped you put together a great event!
  • Write down everything that went wrong or that went well. You’ll want to know this for future events. Here is an example Event Evaluation Form.