If you've ever hosted an alumni event, you know event planning is not as simple as setting up a Facebook invite and hoping people actually show up. Successful events can take months to plan and require a significant amount of coordination.
Whether you are planning a reunion, tailgate or fundraiser, these tips will help you to make your next event a smash. Here's a timeline as you begin the planning process:
Three to four months prior
- Develop a roadmap: Hey, you’re doing that right now! Gather your leadership group or committee to work backwards from the event and set key deadlines.
- Set a budget: Determine your available funding for the event and whether you’ll need to charge for tickets or perform other fundraising.
- Reserve a venue: Identify and reserve a venue that fits your event and your anticipated capacity.
- Save the date: If you anticipate people will need to travel, as for a reunion, share the save-the-date information for the event across your platforms, including email and social media.
Two months before
- Contact vendors: Start securing vendors for food, rentals, entertainment and whatever else your program needs.
- Confirm expenses: Make sure you are clear with vendors what the amount will be and how/when you will pay.
- Create a program: Design a rough timeline of events for your internal team.
- Share event info: If you have not already, remind invitees to save the date.
One month prior
- Post event details: Share information like time, address and events across multiple platforms. Use tools like Facebook to collect RSVPs.
- Send an email: Remind folks about the event with an email linking to your registration page, if applicable.
- Confirm the schedule: Finalize the program for the event.
One to two weeks before
- Contact key personnel: Email any vendors, speakers or volunteers to confirm they are still attending and verify last-minute details.
- Check the venue: Verify details, including a final headcount.
The day before
- Collect all necessary materials: Gather any decorations, giveaways, tables or other items you’ll need for tomorrow in one place. If you can, drop off items at the venue now.
- Remember to print: Print anything you need, such as signage, programs, nametags and registration sheets. Don’t forget the pens!
The day of the event
- Arrive early: If you are leading the event, make sure you’re prepared to help set up, coordinate volunteers and answer questions.
- Set up: Put out any tables, tents or food. If you’re working with an event planning company or other vendors, be available to answer questions.
- Create a check-in spot: Have a welcome space with a sign-in sheet for collecting names and emails, and have name tags out to make networking easier.
After the event
- Pay vendors: Make sure all payments are finalized with vendors.
- Say thanks: Send a follow-up to any speakers, performers or volunteers, thanking them for their help. Leave reviews for vendors.
- Enter emails: If you collected emails, add them to your system for future communications!
Events are a large part of what make alumni communities so successful, as they allow classmates to reconnect. While they can be time-consuming to plan, the work is worth the memories.