Whether your club is looking to plan a large-scale event, such as an awards evening or a formal dinner, or something more casual like a quiz or a raffle, it’s important that you know which steps you need to take.
In this handy event planning checklist, we’ll walk you through everything you need to consider to make your event a success, no matter the size.
#1. Establish the event’s objective
- Why are you hosting an event - to raise money, for fun, to celebrate your members or a club achievement, to attract volunteers, for a special occasion?
- What kind of event does the occasion warrant? Think about the size of the event - is it to recognise someone's service, a recent significant win, or a major anniversary?
- Which event attendees are you targeting?
- Which type of event will work with your target attendees? Large or small, online or real-world, indoors or outdoors, seated or standing?
Once you’ve answered these, it’s time to get a plan in motion.
What do you need?
The next step is to establish the equipment and materials you need.
Raffle -> prizes
Quiz -> microphone/PA and a host
Movie night -> screen and projector
Awards evening -> entertainment, catering and a dining venue
...you get the idea.
Write down a list of everything you’ll physically need for the event. Consider using two categories - essential, and nice-to-haves (if budget and availability allow).
#2. Set your budget
Having a set budget from the start will allow you to ensure each area of running and promoting the event gets its fair share of the money available, while sticking to clear financial boundaries.
You may need to allocate budget for a venue, promotional materials, entertainment, catering or decoration.
Need to raise some extra cash for your event? Our fundraising guide can help
#3. Find a venue
Now that your budget is in place, it’s time to choose the right venue for your event. When it comes to picking a venue, you’ll need to think about the following:
Is it easily accessible via public transport/does it have ample parking? Choosing an event which is in a good location and is easy to get to is incredibly important.
What is its capacity? You need to know how many you can fit in (with social distancing if appropriate) before you begin to market your event.
Is the venue used to hosting your type of event? Your venue should be used to hosting your type of event, be familiar with the logistics and have the appropriate set-up.
If your event involves catering - is there space for food preparation/setup? If you’re providing catering or are hiring caterers, they need to have an appropriate space to prepare which complies with health and safety regulations.
Does your venue have the appropriate facilities - will you need wifi? Screens? Sound or lighting? A stage?
Is your venue accessible to those with mobility aids? Think about how you will provide access to the venue and toilet facilities for disabled people.
Is there ample seating? Make sure there are plenty of seats provided for the capacity of the venue. We'll discuss Covid-19 safety measures in just a moment.
#4. Choose your date and time
Choose a date for your event, a time which is appropriate for the event to start (this can change depending on the type of event, of course), and then check that your venue is available on your chosen dates.
Go armed with a few dates in mind so that you can be flexible with the venue. When thinking about the date, give yourself enough time to organise and promote the event properly.
#5. Get your paperwork in order
It’s important to organise the paperwork for your event so that you have the correct contracts, licences and insurance policies in place before your event begins.
Make sure your venue is booked and confirmed with a written booking confirmation, and make sure that you get written confirmation and receipts for any vendors, entertainment or caterers that you choose to hire - as well as what they expect you to provide on the day of the event.
It’s important that you consider the regulations in place for your venue and event early doors, because it can take several weeks if not months for some licences to be granted. You may need to consult your local council for:
- Street collection licence
- Road closure permit
- Temporary event notice
- Permission to use public land
- Material licensing for a movie night (see the Independent Cinema Office for help with this)
- That any catering provisions comply with the Food Safety Act
#6. Organise your tasks
Now that you know what your event is, where it’s being hosted and when, you should make a list of tasks which need completing.
Having a detailed list of tasks to complete will allow you to prioritise your tasks by date, to set deadlines for each task, and to delegate your tasks amongst your team to ensure that no individual person is overworked or has too much on their plate.
We recommend sorting your tasks into three categories:
- Before the event
- On the day
- After the event
You can always split-out “Before the event” into more sections if there’s a lot to do, perhaps by week counting down to the event itself.
It’s best to keep a digital record of your task list so that it can be shared easily over email, updated with detailed notes wherever you are, and shared with everyone on your team. If you keep a record in a spreadsheet format (Google Sheets is cloud-based and free to use), your team can update their tasks and sections so you have an accurate picture of how the event is coming along.
#7. Assign tasks
Assign tasks to people, especially on the day of the event, so that it can run as smoothly as possible without confusion. Check in on your digital task list throughout the event, so you can be confident that everything that needs to be done is being done.
Pre-event tasks typically include things like setting up online ticket sales, booking entertainment, paying deposit for venue, liaising with any sponsors and promoting the event.
"On the day" tasks can include meeting entertainment, managing foot traffic on the door, scanning tickets or providing security.
Your "After the event" tasks should include things like cleaning up, perhaps a club meeting to determine the success of the event and take note for next time, and making sure that all of your invoices have been squared off. Don't forget to write any letters of thanks too, which will instil some goodwill for your next event.
#8. Think about entertainment
Is your event going to need entertainment? If so, it’s time to think about which entertainment your event would benefit from, and how you can go about booking that.
It may be the case that the event itself is entertainment - for example, if you’re hosting a quiz or a raffle, you might not need any additional entertainment. However, if you’re hosting an awards evening or a formal dinner, some entertainment might be what takes your event to the next level.
You’ll want to consider:
- Your budget
- Whether your desired entertainment is appropriate for the event - e.g, you might not want to opt for a comedian if there will be children present
- Opting for entertainment that’s local to where your event is held - or alternatively budgeting for their travel arrangements
#9. Sell tickets
By this stage the planning of your event is in full swing, and it’s time to think about how you’re going to get people to come. You will have already established a target audience, and it’s time to work on letting them know that you’re hosting an event - and indeed that they should come.
Is a ticketing system going to be the most effective way of managing your attendees? If so, an online ticketing system will allow you to easily monitor your ticket sales.
If you’re opting for printed tickets, will your budget allow for professional ticket design and printing? Think about how you'll manage the ticket sales and keep track of payments, and distribution of tickets (e.g. if the venue is selling some, and club members are selling them too).
Tip: assign just one person (usually the treasurer) to keep track of ticket sales and any payments made, unless of course your event is free.
#10. Promote your event
When you have your ticket system in place and you’re ready to sell or hand out tickets, it’s time to think about your promotional strategy. Whether you’ve allocated budget for your event promotion or not, promotion typically falls into two categories - online and offline.
Online event promotion
Here are a few different methods you can use for promoting your event online.
- Emailing all of your club members and letting them know about your event, encouraging them to buy tickets and to spread the word to their friends
- Posting an announcement on your club’s social media pages about your event - and then encouraging your members to share on their subsequent pages to increase the reach of your event.
- Creating an ‘event’ on your Facebook page which allows followers to mark that they’re ‘attending’
- Utilise social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to contact local clubs/schools/societies that might be interested in your event
- If you have the budget, you could look at ‘boosting’ a post on Facebook promoting your event, choosing your target audience demographic
Offline event promotion
- If you have a budget allocated for marketing, you could look at getting some posters/flyers/leaflets designed to promote your event. It’s always worth asking around the club to see whether or not anyone has any graphic design skill who may be willing to do this for the club for free, or perhaps for a small fee.
- If you have printed materials to promote the event, you can then distribute them around the club itself, to local schools/colleges, local coffee shops and supermarkets and local businesses which might be relevant
- Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth - be sure to tell your club members, players and staff about your event frequently, encouraging them to buy tickets and tell their friends too!
Find more of our club marketing tips here
#11. Health and safety
It’s important that your event properly manages and minimises and the risk of health and safety issues for your attendees.
Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, and indeed your venue, the health and safety requirements needed may differ. It can be beneficial to conduct a thorough risk assessment in the planning stages.
The Gov.UK website has incredibly thorough advice regarding health and safety for events, so bookmark this page so you can refer back to it for each event.
Due to the ever-changing Covid-19 landscape, it’s critical to regularly check the government website for the current rules in-force in your region. While specific guidance will change from time-to-time, there are a number of steps that you can take to ensure the safety of everyone attending. These include:
Encouraging attendees to take lateral flow tests
On any correspondence relating to your event, encourage your attendees to take lateral flow tests before the occasion itself and to remain home if they are feeling unwell or experiencing any possible symptoms of COVID-19.
Limiting tickets per customer
In order to manage the capacity of your venue, it’s a good idea to limit your ticket numbers per customer. For example, only allowing each customer to purchase two tickets, and should they require more they can get in touch with the club directly on a case by case basis. This will help you to keep a close eye on your capacity!
Maintaining social distancing
Where possible, set your event up in a way which allows your attendees to maintain social distancing. It’s a good idea to print and display signage reminding people to social distance where possible and set up one-way walkways so that people don’t need to pass by one another.
Wear masks where appropriate
Depending on the set-up of your event, it could be a good idea to require your attendees to wear masks during specific sections - e.g, when stood up from their table and moving around, and in areas which could be densely populated.
Provide hand sanitising stations
Place these near all doors, encouraging your attendees to sanitise every time they enter or leave a room.
Provide single-use items
Whether you’re providing full catering, or are simply offering soft drinks for your guests, be sure to opt for single-use items in order to prevent any cross-contamination. Single-use cutlery, individual sachets of condiments, individually-wrapped sandwiches and single use cups and bottles are all a great way of avoiding unnecessary mixing. You can do this in an environmentally-friendly way too.
Planning an event for your club should be an exciting occasion in your calendar. Whilst it can seem daunting at first, with the tips listed here you should be able to bring your club’s ideal event to life.