Prior to finalizing an event, an organization needs to determine if it is a function other students may be interested in. Do not assume because you and your organization are excited about a program that everyone else will be. A quick survey could be obtained by asking a cross section of people whether they would attend or think other students would attend. The trick is to get a true cross-section and not just from members of your group or your friends, but also acquaintances in classes, faculty, staff, and the Northern Kentucky community. Check with others who plan events on a more frequent basis and solicit their opinions. The Center for Student Engagement staff, Activities Programming Board and various other University Departments all plan events on a frequent basis and have developed some expertise.
To help student organizations plan events, the Center for Student Engagement has developed a generic timeline, useful for most student organization events. Keep in mind that this timeline is meant to be as broad in its use as possible; therefore some of the items included may not apply to your organizations event.
Many organizations start the planning process for events with an idea of what they want to do. But, for organizations that do not, brainstorming must occur. With all the organization’s members in a room, the group should write down every idea they have for an event.
Keep your ideas realistic. Take into account:
Avoid weeks when there are large numbers of tests and exams in classes. People may be too concerned with academics to attend an event. Check the campus calendars for competing events, or athletic events, or intramural events. If the event the organization is planning involves an admission fee or sale of an item, remember the times students may have more money at their disposal. The beginning of the semester is a good time. A student’s money supply is sometimes replenished immediately after a three-day weekend or longer holiday. Last weeks of a semester and immediately after spring break are times when money is tight.
Avoid days just before a three-day weekend or holiday. Students’ concentration and time is divided between preparations for going home or away, finishing up last minute projects or assignments and usually work obligations. Choose a time of day to present the program that will be “right” or convenient for your audience. Take into account night classes and times of day that are popular for taking classes.
Once the organization has determined what it wants to do and for whom, the next step is determining what you need to produce the event. Student Life and Student Union staff can help you assess needs for your function. As you plan, here are some things to consider:
|Cost of performer
|Cost of AV equipment
|Cost of food
|Cost of decorations
|Cost of advertisements
|Profit the organization hops to make (if any):
Attendance goal 100 people = $13 a ticket
(Even if only 75 people show up, you have still at least covered the cost of the function. However, if over 100 people show up, that’s extra profit for the organization.)
If $13.00 a ticket is too high, adjust your overhead and your profit ratio to lower the price. Remember, when charging for an event, the goal in most circumstances should be at least to break even.
If you are not planning to charge for an event, determine if spending $800 (as in the example above) on it is worth it. If so, that is fine, but if it is not, adjust expenses (i.e. have no decorations or food) so the bottom line is lower.
This is a key step! There are several places both on and off campus to hold events. When determining the venue for an event, keep in mind, you must choose a space appropriate for the size of the event. Two things determine space:
Student Union staff and Student Engagement staff can help determine how much space is needed for the kind of event being planned. They will also help a club determine audio/visual needs.
What facility is best matched to the purpose of the event? A theater production is suited for a campus theater, but they may not be available due to academic department events. A dance must occur in the University Center Ballroom. When scheduling an event (off campus), ask the individual taking the reservation what are the rules governing the facility. If it is on campus, you can schedule a meeting with Student Union staff to ask specific questions about facilities and other issues.
If a reservation has not been made by this point, now is the time to do it. Should you want any University VIPs at the event (e.g., the president, the provost, The Dean of Students, etc) follow the this procedure:
Please make your request in writing for the event at which you would want the VIP to be present. Please make the request at least 1 month in advance if not sooner.
Please include the following:
If the group needs to fundraise to pay for the event, all fundraising should commence now and extend until funds are gathered. Reserve table tent space by emailing email@example.com. Work with Marketing and Communications to generate a press release for the function. Begin designing promotional materials either on your own, or with Marketing and Communications, (859) 572-131.
For events with a performer, call to remind them to return the signed NKU waiver form, if they have not already. Take the signed waiver form to the Dean of Student’s office. You SHOULD NOT start advertising an event until you have a signed contract/waiver form. If the event requires tickets to be bought, all tickets should be printed. Remember to put in advertising where tickets can be purchased and their price.
If the club plans to take out newspaper ads or if radio ads are needed, order those items now. Ask the newspapers when they need the ad copy (the actual ad) and in what format they will accept the ad. Review the campus posting policy found of the Dean of Student’s website and on the Student Union website. Also, send an e-mail to the Center for Student Engagement so the event can be placed on the weekly events e-mail that is sent to most students and many faculty and staff. This e-mail is known as the Leader's Link and has proven very effective with regards to marketing events. Please include specific information about your event as well as contact info for those who would like additional information.
Proofread and finalize promotional material designs. A press release on the event should be issued describing who the event is for, what will be going on, when and where the event will be held and how people can either buy tickets or gain access to the event. Send press releases to Atley Smedley in Marketing and Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deposit all money into the student organization’s account on the next available business day. If catering was used and you have not resolved your bill, pay this invoice immediately. Hold an evaluation meeting with everyone who helped with the event to talk about what went well and what could be improved. Keep a detailed notebook of everything you did.
Send thank-you notes to everyone who helped.