When you’ve determined you actually can do an event, preplanning moves into actual planning. This badge program is broken down into a time frame to help you plan your next event. This is the “doing” part of the event planning set. These dates are not hard rules, nor are the steps. Your event may be very simple so skip those steps that you don’t need.
NOTE: This badge features event planning where volunteers do the work and the costs are kept to a minimum.
Six to three months before your event
Chose the activities you want to do. Depending on what you have available — from materials to volunteers — you can narrow it down. Now is your time to finalize your activities. Make sure you have everything you need to set-up and run each activity. Make a list of anything you are missing and determine how you can get those items.
Choose a location where everyone will fit comfortably, you can run all your planned activities, there is enough parking, etc. Contact the venue and find out if they can accommodate you. Visit the site to make sure what you’re told is accurate. Make sure you have enough outlets, WiFi works, tables and chairs will be available (or you know where to get them), etc. Discuss any issues your location may have with your group.
3. Set date.
Set the date with your venue / location. Verify the area you’re booking and what you’ll be getting. Fill out any necessary paperwork and take a walk through the area to get an idea of how activities will be presented.
4. Review financials.
Are you within your budget? If not, what can you adjust to get there? This might be asking for a donation, getting more participants, etc.
5. Check for rental / borrowed materials.
If you’re planning on renting / borrowing items, make sure that is in place. Getting the items early is ideal so you can test them and make sure everything is working. You need enough time to make sure you can fix or replace damaged materials.
6. Supplemental insurance.
You may be required to get supplemental insurance by your group, venue, etc. If so, make sure you have enough to cover participants, volunteers, etc.
Check to make sure all paperwork you need to complete is in order. Ask questions if you are unsure. This includes paperwork for the venue, any your group requires, insurance, etc. Keep a copy for yourself.
We all get busy. Sometimes we have things come up we don’t anticipate and cannot do what we intend. Check in with your volunteers and make sure they will attend.
Find out if they have an activity preference. Let them know what they will be doing. Verify the time(s) they’ll be working. Let them know you will be available if they have changes, questions or issues. If you don’t have enough volunteers to cover your activities, you’ll now have an idea of the number of people you need to finish filling your slots.
Determine a way to identify your volunteers. Similarly colored clothing, special printed items, etc. can be requested to make sure everyone is easily identified.
One month before event
9. Verify date / location.
Check with your venue and verify your reservation. Some locations may double-book your group. (Yes, it happens.) This is a quick phone call. Be sure to note who you talked to and when.
10. Checklist for all activities.
If something happens to you or someone has a question, a checklist for each activity / station will allow the volunteers to get their areas set-up without direct supervision. These lists will also allow you to make sure you have everything before the event and that you have it after the event.
11. Review registrations / reservations.
Review your registrations / reservations. Make sure everyone has paid in advance, you have all their information, etc. If you are planning on providing special patches for the event, track those as well.
12. Signs, schedules and maps.
Note if you need a map to the location, a map of the location (if held at a large campus or camp), signs to direct participants, schedules, etc. The more information you provide your participants, the easier it is for them.
Prepare evaluations for your participants and volunteers. These will provide you with a view of the entire event and how it went from the point of view of volunteers and participants. Use them a reference for future events.
Two weeks before event
Send one last reminder to each volunteer with a request to contact you immediately if they cannot be at your event.
A participant reminder notice (email or call) will remind them that they signed up and create excitement for your event. Include any supplemental information they may need such as schedules and maps via email.
15. Plan for late arrivals / early departures.
Prepare a plan for participants / volunteers who will arrive late or leave early. Because you have time to think about this before the event, you will make better decisions than if you are asked on the spot.
Day of event
16. Arrive early at location.
Check to make sure everything the location is providing is where it should be. Move in anything that you need to. Provide volunteers their checklists and materials. Make sure signs and maps are placed strategically for participants. Do a final walk-through 15-30 minutes before the event starts.
17. Tracking volunteers.
Make sure to track volunteer time and activities separately. They may be working on a project where they need to apply hours. This will give you a record when they ask in the future.
18. Arrival / check-in area.
Prepare the arrival / check-in area with your volunteers and participants in mind. Start with materials your volunteers will need. About 30 minutes before the event, replace the materials with the participant’s materials. If you are running a large event, plan on having two check-in areas (based on last name) or one person who checks people in and others to supply materials after check-in.
Open 15-30 minutes early for your early birds. They may not be able to get into the event immediately, but it will allow you to work out bugs in the process and make the check-in process easier.
If you need to make acknowledgements for donations / support, you can do so on your fliers you hand out at check-in, signs behind the check-in desk or during announcements at your event. You can also add a thank you to any post-event communications.
One to two weeks after event
20. Additional comments.
Some participants and volunteers think of things they want to add to their evaluations after the event. Provide an email address for additional comments.
21. Review media coverage.
If you have media coverage, collect clippings to put with your final evaluations and paperwork.
22. Finish financials.
Finish your financials so you have a complete overview of what happened at your event. If you need to turn in your financial records, keep a copy for yourself.
23. Thank you notes.
Don’t forget to send an individual thank you to every sponsor / volunteer.
24. Return rented / borrowed items.
Return rented / borrowed items in as good or better condition than you received them. Do not call people to “come pick up their stuff.” They were nice enough to help you, make sure you do the extra work of delivering everything and give them a personal thank you as well.
25. Collect and file.
Collect all your documentation and create a file for future events of this type.
Sites to Explore
- www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org/media/files/forms/Interactive%20Forms/Service_Unit_Events_Planner_050211.pdf Service Unit Event Planner, GSGCNWI)