You’ve been selected to plan an event. Whether it’s an organization weekly organization event, a one-time fundraiser, or the party of the year, you have some work to do. Each event is different, but there are some similarities in the way you can approach the planning process. Follow these tips to help you plan and organize that special day.
Get a clear understanding of the purpose of your event
For parties and dances, the purpose is fairly obvious. But events for work or social organizations probably need a little more definition. Make sure you know why there will be an event and the anticipated outcome.
NOTE: It is important to list the purpose of your event on your Campus Center Event Request Form - organizations that improperly list the purpose of the program on forms risk being put on probation for holding events at NJIT. If your purpose includes inviting any visiting VIP (local, state or national politician or CEO of major company), you must share that with the Campus Center staff before turning in ANY forms. University protocol requires advance notice of any invitation sent as well as invitations confirmed.
Set the goals for your event. How many people do you expect? If this is a repeat event, are you trying to get a larger turnout than last year? Determine what you wish your attendees to gain from the event. Do you want people to learn passively? Do you need enough room for people to move around These are just a few questions to consider when setting goals for the event - plus they allow your group to have better conversations with Campus Center staff about how to meet your goals.
Set your event budget
This should be a top priority. How much can you or how much are you willing to spend? Will the event produce revenue from registrations? Or are you paying for the event by yourself?
NOTE: If you are anticipating using income from the event to pay for the event, please take special care to avoid ending up with debt. This is financial risk to discuss with your organization advisor, or Campus Center staff, before engaging in the program planning. Don't forget to turn in a Student Organization Fundraising Form with your Event Request Form - they are located in the Forms section to the left or in the Campus Center Office.
Select your date and location
It is always a good idea to check the NJIT Calendar to what spaces are available on the dates you are looking to hold your event or meeting. If you have a particular day and time, you should speak with LaTosha Wilson in the Campus Center Office, but only if you see a conflict with an existing reservation on the NJIT Calendar. The sooner you contact the Reservations Office, the more likely you will get your first choice for dates and times.
NOTE: When your request has been received, you will be contacted by the Campus Center to confirm the program details. Student organizations that are planning special events, such as events with 100 or more people, or events that involve money transactions (for tickets) will be required to schedule a mandatory meeting with the Campus Center Reservations Office.
Turn in your forms
Planning an event in the Campus Center requires many different forms. You can download all of your Campus Center forms on this page, on the left, expect the Event Planning Form, which requires a signature on the form. Make sure to note when all forms are due - a good rule of thumb is to turn in all forms at least 15 days in advance.
Create your planning calendar
After you meet with the Campus Center, you will be more prepared to plan your event! Working backward from your selected date(s), use the Planning Checklist to set up a project timeline, with specific tasks that must be accomplished by specific dates. Some of the things you may want to make sure that are on your timeline are:
When to make your first announcement of the event
Prepare and print promotional materials (brochures, invitations, etc.)
Select menu & entertainment - remember that all on-campus catering must be done through Gourmet Dining Services. All on-campus entertainment must have a signed contract on-file in the Campus Center Reservations Office in order to perform at any event.
Determine audio-visual & room needs - your faculty/staff advisor must reserve AV equipment with Instructional Technology and Media Services.
Review necessary contracts and forms with Campus Center staff
Select and confirm speakers
Finalize your agenda/program
Confirm attendees - remember that you have 48 hours before your event to cancel your event without penalty!
Prepare materials for event
Prepare any necessary signage
Set up on site - and remember to have a plan to clean up afterwards!
Enjoy the event
Who is doing what?
Determine what departments or off-campus vendors you and your team will need to work with. These could include, but are certainly not limited to:
Gourmet Dining Services, or other caterers
NOTE: All of your program planners should be aware of the risks with planning your event - safety risks, financial risks, reputation risk. For more information on mitigating your risks, check out the Event Risk Management Guide listed on the left in the Policies and Procedures page.
Organize your Public Relations
How do you plan to publicize your event? Are you going to the local card shop to get pre-printed invitations? Or do you need to develop a simple flyer to be handed out on campus? Ask yourself if you are planning to notify the media. Is your event something that would be of interest to the general public? Or do you prefer for the event to remain private?
Evaluation of your Event
The last step in program planning is evaluating the actual program. Did you anticipate all of the needs for the program? Did you set up meet the needs of the participants? Did your team have clear roles during the planning? Did the program meet the goals and expectations? This step doesn't need to be a formal meeting, but should at least produce suggestions for the next group of planners who will plan this event in the future.
Not all of these suggestions will apply to your event. Some will. Some will not. But by using these tips you can develop a check-list of your own. Most importantly, be flexible. Realize from the start that not everything will go as planned. But in many cases, you will be the only one to know that. You can always meet with the Campus Center staff to help you determine how to best plan your event.
At almost every event, there comes a time when you can no longer control what happens. You’ve done all the planning, made all the preparations. The event will happen, one way or another. When you get to that point, relax and enjoy your work.
Please remember that all student event planners are responsible for learning and understanding Campus Center policies and forms. If you have any questions, you can stop by the Campus Center Reservations Office, call the office at 973-596-3600 or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.