For the purposes of this section, an event may be defined as any activity, fundraiser, meeting, function, or other program (speaker, concert, workshop, etc.) that an RSO may host.
OSI wants every organization’s events to be successful. Event planning can be a time-consuming, yet rewarding, experience for an organization. RSOs can increase their chances of holding successful events by obtaining the required permissions and planning the details well in advance. OSI staff members are available to help an organization think about the tasks needed to plan events, and Event Services (SU 312) can provide additional support for programs in the Student Union. The “Event Planning” section of the Student Union website provides some helpful information (including room and equipment set up and event policies) on creating successful events. In addition, OSI has created an Event Planning Checklist to serve as a general guideline for planning.
There are many campus policies regarding things like potentially hazardous events, insurance, decorations, alcohol at events, food donations, sound, and catering. See Events in/around the Student Union and Campus Event Policies (below) for additional information.
Below are some general tips on planning events:
Depending on the size and type of event, planning should begin at least six weeks prior to the desired event date. See the Event Planning Checklist for a proposed planning timeline.
Before doing anything else, create a budget to see what the organization can afford. Make accurate budget estimates by doing some research. Allow for some “cushion” in the budget to cover unexpected costs. Determine where the money for the event is coming from and make sure that funding is secured. See the Event Planning Checklist for a sample budget template.
When looking at potential event dates, be cognizant of the time of year. Check out the UCF, OSI, and UCF Arena Calendars and check with Event Services (SU 312) to see if there are other events (such as athletic events, departmental programs, academic dates, holidays, or community events), either near or day of, that could potentially conflict or take away audience members. Additionally, be cognizant of the students’ psychological calendar. For example, providing a lecture during a heavy testing period or right before Spring Break may not be a good idea.
Check for facility availability (see Room and Facility Reservations for campus reservation information) and reserve the date. If the program is to be held outdoors, reserve a rain or bad weather location or back up date.
Do not sign a contract or agreement without obtaining advice. See Contracts for more information.
Communicate any sound, lighting, and A/V equipment needs, catering, and set up requests (room layout with tables and chairs) to the reserving entity as soon as the information is known.
If the event could potentially elicit any type of emotional response from the UCF community, or if there are any other potentially dangerous or harmful activities involved, the organization should takes steps to lower risk within the event. This may include filing a SAFE Form at least 15 days prior to the event. Audience management requires that the organization prepare for the best procedure to maintain a safe and pleasant environment, in and around the event, for all event participants. For certain programs, the organization may want to hire security and/or an EMT as an precautionary measure. Whenever the health and safety of people is involved, it is always better to be safe than sorry! For more information, see Risk Management.
The organization can put a lot of money and effort into creating an amazing program, but if it isn’t publicized correctly, how is it supposed draw an audience to appreciate it? See “Publicity and Promotion” for more information.
Talk to Parking Services if parking passes are needed, or to work out parking arrangements for a large group of people.
Programming is not finished at the end of the event. Perhaps one of the most underestimated steps a student organization can take is verbal and written evaluation of the event. The organization should evaluate and document the ACTUAL budget. When evaluating the program, provide honest feedback, good and bad, on the event, as well as an attendance count. In the future, this information will help the organization avoid some of the problems faced with the event, so that it doesn’t have to “reinvent the wheel” every time it programs a similar event.
A Final Note
The above are general tips that will not apply to every event. RSOs are encouraged to discuss event planning with their advisors, and to seek guidance from OSI and/or KoRT. Depending on the event, OSI staff members may have other suggestions and advice, especially when events involving contracted performers/artists are concerned.