Step 1: Choose an Activity
- Look at Event Ideas and Programming for event ideas
- Review your club's objectives
- Review your last survey results – what do area alumni want to do?
- Remember, different alumni like different types of events – family oriented, educational, bar-of-the month, etc. (Also, Summer is a good time for family events. Though the events may have lower overall attendance, they're a great time to develop family involvement.)
- Establish a traditional annual event that club members will grow to look forward to each year (Consider honoring a local alumnus each year.)
- If your club is in a larger metropolitan area, have events in a variety of locations within the area
- Consider a joint event, for example, with the local UNC General Alumni Association's club or other business school alumni clubs in your area
- If a faculty member is desired, contact Alumni Affairs (919.962.3596) to coordinate
Step 2: Pick a Date
- Plan well in advance – 12 to 16 weeks should do to manage logistics and market the event
- Coordinate date with availability of speaker(s) and venue
- Keep in mind conflicts such as holidays, athletic events and other social events - Check various religious holiday calendars, athletic team schedules (especially the Tar Heels) and consider any major events occurring nationally or locally
Step 3: Pick a Venue
- Consider location, location, location
- Consider cost, size, layout, catering options and availability of AV equipment
- Some thoughts on the pros and cons of the various options:
- Donated corporate space - usually the most preferable because it avoids hefty room fees and food & beverage minimums. Perhaps a club member works in an office that has space available. Alumni Affairs can assist in finding someone who can host an event in their office space. Location is usually a positive, but identify in advance any parking and security issues (e.g., building security usually requires a guest list to be submitted which makes it difficult for people who did not RSVP to show up at the last minute). Note than when using corporate space, you still may be responsible for any AV charges.
- Private club - usually a member of the private club must act as host. One of the advantages is that room fees and/or food & beverage minimums may be avoided. However, this isn't always the case. This should be one of the first questions asked when considering a private club. Food and beverage cost, however, can sometimes be pricey. Make sure to review all different menu options. If needed, don't forget to ask about AV pricing. Typically if it is available in-house, it can be more cost effective than an outside vendor.
- Public venue - the downside can be hefty room charges and/or food & beverage minimums. However, local restaurants and bars are always looking for groups to use their space. It is free advertising for them as the exposure brings in people that may not have otherwise visited. Most will have private rooms that may fit the event's needs. Also, most restaurants and bars will not have AV equipment; so if needed, an outside vendor will need to be used. Restaurants and bars will often have open areas that may be perfect for a networking reception. There normally isn't a room charge to use a space like this. Also, try and key in on a night where they may be a happy hour (free food!) or drink specials to reduce your costs.
- Local alumnus house - some great events have been held at the homes of our alumni. If you have the money, use a local caterer to handle food & beverage. This can get expensive quickly with set up fees and delivery charges. A better option may be to place an order with a local caterer and pick it up. While out, stop at a local distributor to purchase wine & beer.
Step 4: Choose your Event Planning Team
- Who will take the lead on the event?
- Who will be the contact person for inquiries about the event?
- Who will be the RSVP person for the event?
- Who is the contact person for coordinating the speaker(s)?
- Who are the contact people for dealing with the venue, food & beverage and AV equipment?
- Who is responsible for the finances of the event (budget, collecting money, paying vendors, etc.)?
- Which club leaders will help plan the event?
- Are other volunteers needed? Who will get them?
Step 5: Plan your To-Do List
- Make a complete list of everything that needs to be done
- Add these details to your timeline and assign responsibilities as needed
- Don't underestimate the amount of time needed to put on a successful event. Give yourself plenty of time to: visit a potential venue, meet with a caterer, design invitations (print or email), stuff envelopes, coordinate email invites, make phone calls, manage RSVP's, make name tags, etc. The most common comment that we hear from people putting on an event for the first time is, "We didn't realize how much goes into an event." Be sure to check with the Alumni Affairs office since they can help with many of these items.
- View a sample task list and timeline
Step 6: Plan your Budget
- Now that you know what you want to do and when, how are you going to pay for it?
- Clubs events should be designed to be self supporting
- The majority of events should require an adequate fee to make the event break even or earn a small profit to support future events
- A club may plan an occasional "deficit" event as long as the club has funds to cover the expenses
- Clubs are encouraged to sponsor students at their events
- Set realistic attendance goals
- View a sample budget planning worksheet
Suggestions for staying in the black:
- All club activities should generate enough income to avoid deficits
- Make sure there are no hidden costs such as taxes, tips, rental fees, A/V fees, clean-up fees, etc. - Insist the place you are renting from or hiring outlines every cost in detail
- Add a small amount to the actual total cost of the activity to generate additional operating income - This will give you a cushion if there are hidden or unexpected costs with an event
- Make sure to include the cost for each guest to the event - Guest speakers are not expected to pay for their attendance to an event
- Find a local business to help cover the cost in return for getting recognition or publicity e.g. include the logo of the sponsoring company in the event announcement in exchange for a reduced cost of the event being covered by the company
Step 7: Plan your Marketing Strategy
Step 8: Get started on your to-do list and have fun!
Step 9: Follow-up and Evaluation
- Send hand-written thank-you notes to speakers, people that donated or sponsored space, etc.
- Let Alumni Affairs know how the event went
- Send Alumni Affairs an event summary and list of attendees
- Be sure the club's webmaster posts an event summary and any pictures within a week of the event
A Note About Money
Call the Alumni Affairs office if there is an event you're hosting and you wish to inquire about securing potential funding for the event. Limited funds are available.