Event Pre-Planning

Question: I’m on the board of a small watershed group, and we're in the early stages of planning our first event.  It’s not going to be anything fancy, but we want to do it right.  Any advice on things we can do on the front end of the planning process that will ensure the event goes smoothly?

Answer:  Well, every event takes a little work, but there are a few steps you can take during the planning process to save some headaches later on.

For starters, send out a Save the Date a couple months before the event.  People’s calendars fill up fast, and letting them know about your event early will increase the chances they’ll come. You could mail a postcard or send out an email blast, but make sure it contains the following information:

  • The type of event you’re putting on, the date and location

  • Any prizes, food, entertainment, important people or speakers…just the highlights.

  • A call to action: make sure you tell them what to do with this information: put it on their calendars, register when registration opens, etc.

  • You can even include a short personal note letting people know about your organization and why they should come.

Secondly, have people register for the event.  It might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how a small detail like forgetting to include RSVP information on the invitation can cause trouble down the line.  You don’t want to be caught on the day of the event with food for one hundred when only six people show up; or the opposite—your event is really popular but you don’t have the food or space to accommodate them.  Also, the registration process is a great opportunity to gather information about them—name and email address, at the very least.  There are lots of online registration sites that can help you register people easily at a small fee.  We recently started using eventbrite.com here at Georgia River Network, and we’ve been happy with it so far.  To avoid fees, you can simply ask participants to email RSVP directly to someone in your organization.

Thirdly: PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!  You’re spending all this time and energy putting this event together, the least you can do is make sure it’s a success by letting people know about it.  So, put an ad in the paper, send it to the listserves you think would be interested, publicize it on your website, Facebook and Twitter, ask other groups to advertise it in their publications. If you feel like you’re talking about it too much, you’re probably promoting it just enough.

So, make sure to let folks know about your event, ask them to register for it, and put a LOT of energy into promoting it.  On the day of, you should be in good shape!