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The Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union
The University of Mississippi

Event Planning Best Practices

Registered Student Organizations are encouraged to utilize the following event planning best practices in order to have a safe and successful event prior to the event:

Conceptualizing the Event

  • Check out the events calendar.
    • What other events are happening on the day your RSO may be interested in having an event?
  • Determine the goal of the event.
    • For example, is the goal of the event to build community, to fundraise, to bring awareness, to socialize, etc.?
    • Will the event require collaboration? If so, how are the appropriate parties a part of the conceptualization of the event and not just the implementation?
  • Decide on the type of event your RSO will have.
    • Will this event be open to the public or campus, for members of your RSO only, or by invitation only? Who will manage guest lists or invitations if applicable?
    • Is the theme or name of the event appropriate? How does the theme or name of the event reflect the purpose of your organization?
    • Will the event require a general liability waiver for attendees?
  • Consider what date and time works best for the intended guests.
    • Remember, all RSO events should support the purpose of your organization.
    • Are there procedures for approval to an advisor or national organization? How has your RSO communicated event plans with those who need to grant approval at organizational level?
  • Decide on a venue for the event.
    • If your event will be on-campus, has your RSO checked to see if the space is available? What is the process by which an RSO can request the space?
    • Don’t forget – just because an RSO has requested a space does not guarantee that it will be available.
    • If you have requested space but haven’t heard back from the venue/space, a thoughtful but professional follow up is appropriate.
    • When considering off-campus venues, your RSO may want to consider what liability insurance the venue utilizes or offers, what the capacity is for the space, what expectations the venue will have (utilizing the venue’s own security or catering, space utilization policies, etc.)
  • Consider the event’s budget.
    • How much funding does your RSO have allocated for this event?
    • What anticipatory expenses can the RSO plan for? Are there opportunities for incidental expenses? How would your RSO plan to cover any such costs?

Planning the Event

  • Submit an event registration.
    • Because complex events may require various consultations and documentation, we’d recommend submitting an event registrations submission as early as possible. It’s not a terrible idea to submit the event registration submission 20-25 business days in advance to ensure that your RSO has enough time to complete any necessary additional steps. Instructions for any additional steps that need to be taken will be communicated via the event registration submission.
    • The description of your event on Forum should follow the follow template:
      • A descriptive note about what activities the event will entail;
      • Who’s specifically invited;
      • Additional the public would need to know.
      • Check out these great examples for ideas!
    • At a minimum, any event registration will require the submission of the form and verification of a space reservation.
    • Events with higher risk may be subject to additional requirements. RSOs can expect any of the following additional requirements:
      • Attend a UPD security consultation;
      • Hire security;
      • Submit contracts to appropriate University departments (security, bussing, off-campus venues, etc.);
      • Submit a list of event monitors.
  • Secure the event’s space.
    • Obtaining contracts from off-campus venues or verification from on-campus departments may take time. Be sure that your RSO has factored in the time it may take to secure a reservation in event planning.
    • When planning events off-campus, who is authorized to execute contracts? Who might need to review venue contracts?
  • If traveling beyond Lafayette County, finalize a transportation plan.
    • Has the RSO considered utilizing common carrier transportation?
    • If staying overnight, what are the housing/room accommodations, and do your event’s attendees feel comfortable with such accommodations?
    • Are you aware of/ know the laws of this city and/or state in which the RSO in traveling?
  • Book entertainment.
    • If the event will require entertainment booking, what logistics need to be addressed?
    • Who can make decisions regarding contracts on behalf of your RSO?
    • Is there enough funding to cover the cost of the booking?
    • Does your RSO understand its obligations from the contract?
  • Utilize University department resources.
    • Parking & Transportation Services
      • Does the event require any special parking accommodations?
      • Will the event require changes to bus routes or dictate road closures?
    • Student Disability Services
      • What accommodations can your organization provide to ensure that all students, staff, and University visitors are able to enjoy the event?
      • As noted, in the University’s Commitment Statement on Disability Access, “In accordance with the goals and creed of The University of Mississippi, and to further support a campus rich in diversity, the University will encourage excellence, inclusion and respect for the dignity of those with disabilities and will recognize and promote the value of individual differences.” Be sure to check out the the statement to learn more about the University’s operating principles.
    • Facilities Management
      • If the event will require physical trash cans, tables/chairs, road closures, barricades, sound, etc, has your RSO contacted Facilities Management to secure such equipment?
      • Will the event require electricity to be turned on or water irrigation systems to be turned off? Be sure to double check with Facilities Management.
  • Prepare materials for the event.
    • Does your RSO have the materials necessary to carry out its risk management plan? (wristbands, cell phone numbers, emergency contacts, first-aid kits, etc.)
    • If alcohol will be present during the event, will there be food and water available for attendees?
    • What is the plan for setting up event location and cleaning up? How has such a plan been communicated to appropriate parties?
  • Communicate.
    • If this event is open to the public, what is the RSO’s marketing plan to let people know?
    • If the event is by invitation only, how is your RSO communicating with guests prior to the event?

Following the Event

  • Reconcile any outstanding balances.
    • Have all invoices been paid? If not, who is responsible for completing payments to the necessary entities?
  • Outreach.
    • If any incidents occurred, what outreach may need to be done to appropriate parties?
    • If the event was an incredible success, who should be contacted to share the news?
  • Consider assessment.
    • What assessment will you use to determine if your event objectives were met?
    • If the event will be reoccurring, what changes need to be made in the future? How are these notes going to be communicated to incoming officers? Where are such notes stored and preserved?