A Step-By-Step Guide To Planning Events

In this first post we are sharing the basic elements of coordinating events including event types, committee development and questions to ask right from the get-go. At the end of the series you will have the confidence, knowledge and skills to plan and manage your own events with ease.


An event can be as small as a meeting of your Board of Directors, up to an international conference attended by thousands. An event is a dinner at your home or a black-tie political fundraiser at a five-star resort. As a planner, you must include all of the basic planning elements for a gathering of ten to a gathering of thousands. All of the same elements are utilized, usually to a different degree. You have to pick a date, define who your guests are, what will the menu be? You will have to figure out how much you want to spend on your event. Will there be entertainment? You will need to manage RSVPs and be aware of guest allergies. You have to do all this for a dinner at your home or for a conference attended by many. 


In this first installment we are going to discuss the why, selecting a committee and the questions you need to ask yourself at the beginning of the planning process.  

Before we kick off the planning process we ask ourself a very specific question: “Why should we have this event?” It is key to determine why your organization wants to coordinate an event, and then proceed with that goal through the planning process. If you are planning a conference, then your goal may not necessarily be to raise funds. If you goal is fundraising, then your organization must set an amount to be raised and plan the event accordingly.

Special events generally fall under these three categories:

1. Fundraising: 

You want to raise a certain amount of money to benefit a program or organization.

2. Friendraising:

You want to expose your organization or company to a new audience, make new friends so to speak.

3. Meeting an Organizational Goal:

You need to plan an annual meeting, provide training to your team, launch a new product or other organizationally planned goal.


- Should we be having an event?

- Do we have enough funds to produce an event?

- What is the purpose of our event?

- Does the purpose and anticipated outcome justify the financial outcome or risk?


An event committee can assist the organizational staff with key aspects of your event. It is important to match skills and areas of interest with the areas of responsibility. A committee can lend credibility to your event, can provide you with resources and exposure, can share the workload, and can keep you going when the going gets tough.

Putting a committee together, take a moment and think who in your community could or should be on your dream committee. What about an Honorary Chairman?

In the process of developing a committee it is important to manage your expectations. Be very clear when recruiting on what your expectations are from your volunteers. Being direct will prevent headaches and frustrations later on in the planning process. Do you expect your committee members to help you plan, or do you expect them to raise a certain amount of money, or both? Do not leave anything up to interpretation; be as clear as possible as to what you expect during the recruiting process. Put your expectations in writing and use this handout as part of your recruitment tools. We love it when thought has been put into this process. We get asked many times to be on committees and most of the time the person asking can’t really verbalize what they want from our team. Having a written job description helps us understand the expectations of the agency or Event Chair, and we can decide if we can meet those expectations. No more frustration later on in the process and having written expectations allows us to easily report on our progress during committee meetings.

In the next installment we will talk about developing an event budget, and more detailed questions you should ask yourself at the start of the planning process.