Organise an event

From a small talk to a city-wide rally, a campaigning event can get your messages noticed, give your campaign a focus, and recruit new people to the cause. But organising events can be daunting.

This guide will provide all the information you need to put on a successful event to build the movement for climate justice.

Depending on what type of event you are organising, you will need to consider different aspects in the planning process. However there are common elements to planning any event and these are discussed below

Get a clear aim

The first and most important thing is to decide what you aim to achieve through the event. For instance, if your aim is to influence a decision maker you would need to consider whether it would be more effective to arrange a private lobby meeting with your group, or whether you would have more of an influence inviting the decision-maker to come and speak as part of a panel debate in front of a larger group, or whether you should organise a public demonstration. Each of these courses of action would entail a different planning process.

Get a planning team together

Once you’ve decided on your aim and what type of event will best achieve this, you will need to consider who will help you to organise the event. If you aren’t already part of a church or community group, it might be worth identifying people who share your interest and invite them to join you in the event. It is a good idea to have an initial meeting with the group to discuss the event and decide on people’s responsibilities and planning deadlines. Meet up regularly with your team to check progress. Keep these meetings brief and to the point, and perhaps lighten them up by holding them in a pub or cafe.

Some other things to think about when planning an event are:

  • How will you judge the success of the event?
  • Is there something quirky that you can use to make your event stand out?
  • Make sure your event will work in your context, and that people will be happy to get involved.
  • Go to similar events. Decide why these work, or why they don’t.
  • Is everyone involved clear on their role? Especially make sure that any speakers or helpers on the day know the schedule of the event and what’s expected of them.

Target your market

Decide who you would like to come to your event, and whether it will be free or whether you’ll charge for attendance. If there’s a popular speaker or if food and drink is provided at the event, you will need to decide how much to charge.

Consider how many people you need at the event for it to be successful. For example, a demonstration or talk with only a handful of people present may give the impression that there’s a lack of interest in the subject, but a lobby meeting with large numbers of participants may end up being chaotic and difficult to get messages across.

If you have a publicity stunt in mind, test it first, and give the local press a call to find out whether they will cover it.

Make a budget

Your event will hinge on money. Draw up a careful list that includes all your event costs, and all the money you think you’ll take. Get quotes from companies providing certain goods and services needed to get a realistic idea of the costs involved.

As the event will be for a good cause, you may be able to persuade companies to donate goods and services if you tell them why the event is important and how they can support you. For instance, if you have a programme you may be able to sell advertising space.

If the event is large-scale, you may need to look into insurance in case of emergency. Some venues will cover this already, but others won’t and you may need to investigate public liability insurance.

Make a date

Choose your date carefully. For instance, avoid clashes with competing local events and ensure that you leave yourself enough time to plan the activity.

In some cases, such as a stunt, the event might be on a particularly important date such as the day of a government decision on a climate justice issue. In this case, you will need to liaise with local media to ensure that you can work with their deadlines. Other events are less time-specific, such as a talk in a church, and so you can just choose a mutually convenient date.

Your venue

Visit your venue, and check it has the facilities you need for your event. It is a good idea to choose a venue that’s slightly too small rather than one that’s too big, as events feel more successful if people are little squeezed. Make sure that your booking is confirmed in writing, and that you have the contact details of the relevant people in case of an emergency on the day. Consider transport options to and from the venue, and ensure that this is communicated well to the participants. Also consider other services that you might need, such as security, first aid, and cleaning.

The law

Notify the local authorities and the police of your event if it’s in a public place or involves a large number of people. Do this in writing and get a contact name and phone number you can use on the day of your event. Be clear with the local authorities, the police and/or your venue what you’re allowed to do. Even if your event is a guerrilla protest, make sure you and the people taking part know the relevant law. Only in this way can you avoid being arrested or just moved on.

Get publicity

Building a healthy relationship with local media is probably one of the easiest and most cost effective ways of getting your campaign message out in a timely and relevant fashion. It can take as little as a few phone calls, a couple of letters or a meeting or two. This minimal time and effort can then pay big dividends in the reach and impact of your message.

Local media is always on the look out for stories to fill their pages, particularly those which are timely and relevant to their audience or involve human interest. Timing is important. Your local newspapers, radio and TV stations work to their own deadlines and it will take them time to process your information.

It’s essential that any coverage occurs to coincide with events you may have planned. You’ll need to have your press release written and your contact primed well ahead of time.

Also consider telling everyone you know (word of mouth is one of the most valuable forms of publicity), contacting local radio stations that often have slots for local events, putting posters up in shops, and using flyers and leaflets that are bright, striking and clear.

Enjoy!

After all this preparation, your event is likely to be a great success, and it should be encouraging and enjoyable for all involved.