Organising an event, however big or small, requires thought, planning and effort in order to be a success. Listed below are some things you might want to consider when planning your event.
What are you trying to achieve?
So, you have decided that you want to do something to support Refugee Week. But what is it that you want to achieve by running the event? Maybe it is to raise funds for your group or for a refugee agency, or to raise awareness of important issues. It may be an opportunity to bring together refugee groups with the wider community, strengthen cross-cultural relationships, and allow local refugees and asylum-seekers to celebrate their culture and their contribution to Australia. You need to be clear about the objectives of the event before you start your planning.
What kind of event will you be holding?
The following questions may help you formulate an idea for an event or project:
- Who is your target audience? A key aim of Refugee Week is attracting new audiences, so think about how your event can reach out to those who are not already familiar with the issues.
- What do you think this audience will enjoy? Your event could be anything from a music, dance or poetry evening to a school fete, basketball tournament, debate or lecture.
- Who will help you to organise it? Think about working in partnership with other organisations/ individuals who can contribute to making the event successful.
- When will the event take place? You may need to check what other events are going on during Refugee Week in your area. If possible, try not to double-book.
- Which performers or guest speakers are available? Think about government representatives, well known community figures or celebrities and Refugee Ambassadors.
Before you begin to publicise the event, check that your venue – be it a park, hall or elsewhere – is safe and approved. For a large event, particularly if it is going to be outside, you may need insurance or permission from the local authority. Also, you could notify the police and if necessary, leaflet local residents to inform them of what’s going to happen. You will need all the support you can get and this will also help with publicity.
Plan your budget
Having a well-planned budget will be an advantage when organising your event. Projects can end up costing more than anticipated, resulting in difficulties; however, this can be avoided if you rigidly plan your budget in advance. Wherever possible, try to base your budget on real quotes rather than estimates. Even with the very best planning some unexpected costs may arise, so make sure you include a small contingency amount in your plan to help cover these.
Use your contacts
Identify other groups in your area or sector that may be interested in your event; either in helping to organise it, offering their contacts to get support or sponsorship, or just by attending.
Have a plan B, just in case!
Having a back-up plan is important. Compile a check-list of everything that you need to do to ensure your event runs smoothly, and make sure you thoroughly check that all possible precautions have been made and you have a plan to fall back on if anything drastic goes wrong. If your event is going to be outdoors, think about what you would do, or where you could go, if it rains.
Evaluating Your Event
Even when the event has come and gone, make sure that you let everyone know how much of a success it was! For example, can there be a review in the local newspaper about the event? At the very least make sure that you let the local media know how the event went and how many people attended. Make sure that you thank everyone who was involved – can you get a commitment from them now, while they’re still buzzing with pride, for Refugee Week next year?
It’s important to start thinking of how to evaluate your event right from the initial planning stage. There are three key ingredients for good evaluations: identifying what worked, what didn’t work, and what could be improved next time. You will also need to think about what you want to evaluate. This may be attendance, responses at the time of the event or responses afterwards. Make sure the method of evaluation you choose enables you to gather this data in a clear and concise way.
Evaluating is useful for several reasons. It helps us get feedback from attendees and participants to find out the best and worst bits of an event. Evaluating helps us to know if the event achieved its original aims, or how it could be improved. It also shows volunteers and staff the value of their work, and shows the impact of the event on the community. Lastly, some funders may require evaluations to be conducted, to show value for money.
There are several ways to gather the information you need. Whichever method you use there will be pros and cons, so make sure you think about this early on and devise a method which works for you and your event.