Leadership Series: How to plan a successful event

The Fall 2018 Leadership series occurs every Tuesday in Evans Commons 3020 at 4 p.m.
Graphic by Andria Graeler
Photo by Rolando Dupuy

KAYLA DRAKE | Multimedia Producer

Lindenwood student organizations host over 1,900 events a year, according to Student Involvement Director Angie Royal.

Royal has 15 years of experience in event planning for college campuses.

“I’ve planned events that are complete flops, and I’ve planned events that are complete successes,” she said.

Here is Royal’s 101 guide:

1. What do I hope to accomplish at this event?

Royal said purpose-driven events are more successful than events that are just thrown together. Student organizations should determine the goal of the event before determining the budget or even clicking on the Involve U homepage.

2. Think outside of the box – or a block party

Royal said campus organizations are “guilty of doing easy things.” Bonfires, block parties and sand volleyball are all repetitive events. Royal encouraged students to brainstorm and get creative. 

“Things students don’t get to do normally, they will usually come out to,” she said.

Although Royal said there are liability restraints. The university cannot have slip n’ slides, mechanical bulls or lantern and balloon releases.

Inflatables must now have a staff member from the company stationed during the entire event. 

3. Determine logistics

Royal said to think through:

  • The date, time, space and name of the event
  • Estimate the attendance of the event

She said at minimum, organizations need to start planning events out four weeks ahead of time. 

Once the logistics are figured out, members can go to the homepage of Involve U and fill out an Astra (space) request and Graphic Design/Print request

If the event is taking place outside, Royal recommends to have a Plan B and also reserve a space inside for the day as well. 

4. Finalize contracts and permits, if needed

Contracts are needed for performers, speakers, DJs, inflatables, etc. An open fire permit is needed to host a bonfire and a viewing rights permit is needed to screen a movie. The screening for “Avengers: Infinity War” cost $1,000. Film screenings cost $150-$1,000 typically.

Royal stressed that the only person signing contracts for organizations is the university’s attorney unless the organization wants to be liable for any accidents that could occur. To get a contract signed, email it to Royal at ARoyal@lindenwood.edu.

An event may need waivers for risk, student organizations can pick up copies of the forms and wristbands from the Student Involvement office on the third floor of Evans Commons. 

5. Budgeting and financing an event

Angie Royal, director of student involvement, gave out her personal list of “Items Commonly Missed” at the Leadership Series Tuesday. Photo by Kayla Drake

Student organizations first need to go price the items. In-store has more accurate prices, according to Royal. She also said to never use the sale price.

To finance an event, money can either come from Tier funds or general funds. All general funds must be approved by the student government, all of campus must be welcome, the event must be on campus, and it must be free.

If a campus organization is wanting to cater an event, then it needs to register through CaterTrax, the online system for Pedestal Catering. Only chips, candy and soda are OK for student organizations to cater by themselves.

Student pricing is available and considerably cheaper on CaterTrax; the only stipulation is students would have to pick up the food from the kitchen and serve it themselves. 

Qdoba is now also offering catering, which can be found on CaterTrax.

Important note: All requests, but especially funding requests, must be submitted three weeks in advance.

6. For fundraising events

Organizations must submit a solicitations approval form – showing who donated what and who they are funding for.

Clubs are not allowed to give out or accept donations of alcohol. The only gift cards clubs can award are from Starbucks, Fandangos and Barnes & Noble. The maximum amount allowed on a gift card is $100 because prizes higher than that can be considered income and therefore are taxable.

7. Promoting your event

Royal stressed that word of mouth is most effective when promoting events, but she said the university also offers several other ways of promotion.

“Tell your friends and tell all your friends to tell their friends,” she said.

Options for promotion for campus events include fliers, social media, chalking Spellmann or Evans concrete fronts, the Weekly Roar, which has 3,800 views a week, Golden Roar, a professionally produced radio promotion that plays in Evans Commons, TV Monitors or tabling. 

Royal said organizations should make their tabling exciting with music and activities for students to participate in. Royal also said a new way for campus organizations to promote something is by painting the Spirit Rock, which can stay up for a week at a time. Clubs can request funds to paint the rock.

8. Using equipment

Student Involvement has a surplus of extra equipment for student organizations to use. The equipment includes sound systems, speakers, tables, chairs, projectors, etc.

Clubs must fill out an equipment form to use the supplies.

9. Need volunteers?

If an organization is hosting a larger event, it can promote service hours to students. Royal said to have shifts planned and duties prepared for volunteers ahead of time. 

The week of your event:

Finalize and verify all of your requests, especially if you have not received a confirmation yet. Then, Royal said to do a final push on promotions the week of.

The day of your event:

Royal recommended this checklist:

  • Meet your vendors and performers on time. 
  • Put the space back the way you found it
  • Greet your guests and have fun

All the links and forms for events can be found on the homepage and forms tab of Involve U.

 

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About Kayla Drake 107 Articles
Kayla is our multimedia producer, so basically all things video and podcasts. She prefers to cover human interest stories because she believes we learn best by hearing personal testimonies of grief, passion, tribulation and activism. When Kayla is not editing or writing, most likely she is either hiking or eating. And by eating she doesn’t mean fast food, college grub, but the St. Louis restaurant scene (which is to die for). She is a proud St. Louisan and is passionate about being a part in the city's redemption. Look for the girl with the stickered out water bottle on campus and say hi.