Congratulations on deciding to organize an event! Public events require much planning, and there are many details to take into consideration.
This guide is designed to assist in the process of organizing those details and make the process easier.
This guide will include information and tips from Magma Event’s staff on topics such as:
Event Development & Pre-Event Logistics
Selection of 3rd party vendors
Solicitation of sponsors
Event day management
It is important to note, the information contained in this handbook was collected to the best of our staff’s knowledge at the time. Please use this information as a guide, but not taken as the rule of law for event planning.
Developing the Idea
All events start out as an idea, but the key to turning your idea into a great event starts with brainstorming. If your event is small, you may personally be handling most or all of the tasks discussed in this guide. However, for larger events it’s important to bring some passionate people together and talk openly about what community needs exist, topics that excite the group, and ideas that other communities have explored. This is a great way to start the process.
It is important to keep an open mind during this process as sometimes the original idea may sprout into a better idea that is very different from where the group started. It is also a good idea to document the discussion with notes.
Once there is an agreement about the idea for an event, it’s time to develop that idea a little more. This can be done by determining the objectives & outcomes, the audience, and what the wants of that audience will be.
The Objectives & Outcomes of the Event
It’s important to be clear and concise about the objectives and desired outcome of the event. More often than not, your sponsors or a grant application will ask what these are, so it’s best to address this early.
Questions to consider:
What do you hope to achieve from the event, and how will you know when you have succeeded?
What are some keywords to describe the event?
The Audience of the Event
This area of development focuses on determining who your event is trying to reach. Once you have a target audience in mind, you can plan suitable activities and market the event effectively.
Questions to consider:
What age range are you looking to target?
Where does your target demographic live?
How or where does this audience receive information about events?
The Wants of the Audience
Once you have an idea of who your audience is, you can start to determine what type of programming those attendees might want to do.
Questions to consider:
What type of experience or message do you want to convey through your activities?
What type of activities does this target audience typically attend?
Are the activities within your event budget or your target audience’s budget?
How much time is needed for organizing?
What are your volunteer needs?
Planning the Event
When entering the planning stage of an event you will want to gather all the information previously discussed, and begin the process of envisioning what the day of the event will look like. To do this, you will want to develop an overview of the event, assign roles and responsibilities within your group, assess potential venues, purchase or rent equipment based on programming or activity, and look into any possible permitting needed.
Determining this information will also help when you begin soliciting sponsors, marketing the event, and recruiting volunteers.
Group Roles & Responsibilities
Having a team of individuals to help plan the event is very helpful. If you have a team to draw from, this section will help you get the ball rolling! First, it’s crucial to have individuals who are committed and also have the time to dedicate to planning the event.
Look at the base skills of the group, do you have a good mix of skills on your team? It’s helpful to have skills in:
Sponsorships & Development
Marketing & Promotion
Determining who possesses these skills will help assign roles, define responsibilities, and set a path for accomplishing the event objectives.
After reviewing each individual’s skill set and assigning roles, the group should determine a job description, goals, and deadlines for each role.
As you plan the event you’ll find that your new motto is: let there be no surprises! This is especially true with the budget, however, you’ll find that there will most likely be some surprises. However, the more you plan your budget in advance, work in several stages, and stay close to the process there will be fewer surprises to contend with.
Begin by listing everything you will need, ideally, for your event. Look over your event outline and use it as a guide when determining your possible needs. Then, look over your list and get estimated costs from third-party vendors. Once you have all the estimated costs and a total for expenditures, you can either start to solicit sponsors, research and apply for grants, or cut unneeded items from the list.
The right setting for an event can actually generate a positive emotional response and a memorable experience that will bring attendees back year after year. However, choosing a venue that is the right size (or has the ability to grow if your event grows), has a great layout, location, and is within your budget can be a tricky process.
As the venue is often the single most expensive element of the event – here are some tips for keeping costs low:
Working with a single entity like a hotel or event center that provides: a location, food & beverage, security, accommodations, and third-party services like audio/visual production may give you the ability to negotiate the entire package.
You may be able to save money and provide an interesting urban experience by using vacant building spaces that are up for lease to host your event. This option would require creative negotiation with the property owner or manager. A possible selling point to a property manager may be that the event will “stage” their space to the public, which could help them get the space leased sooner.
Some venues may give you a discount for paying upfront or being a non-profit – it never hurts to ask.
Ask the venue if they have any decorations, linens, or furniture included with the rental – saving you money.
If you’re working with a caterer ask about ordering food “by consumption,” meaning you only pay if the food is consumed. This generally works for pre-packaged items like snacks or soda.
Be creative! Keep in mind almost anything can be sponsored.
Lastly, as you talk to the representatives of different venues, ask as many questions as possible