University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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Event Planning Guidelines and Resources

GETTING STARTED
In order to best serve your chapter’s needs, the UWMAA wants to ensure your chapter is properly prepared for every event:
1. Fill out an event request form.  These are used to keep track of your events for marketing, recognition, and UWMAA records. We use the information provided to support you in your event planning. To ensure a swift turnaround, be as thorough as possible in your event description. We will contact you following submission to discuss next steps and how we can help.
2. When planning your chapter events, keep in mind the following key considerations:
-What type of event are you planning and what will be the main aspects (speaker, panel, activity, etc.)?
-How does the event support your chapter’s mission, the UWMAA and university, and your alumni base?
-What are the goals for this event and how will you measure the outcomes?
-Who is your event audience?
-When is the best time to hold the event?
-Where is the ideal location? (if on UWM’s campus, contact the UWMAA prior to making reservations; we can help)
3. After your chapter event, complete an event evaluation.  This helps the UWMAA support your efforts, plan for future events, and share our appreciation.

SECURING FINANCING FOR A CHAPTER EVENT
Below are some suggestions about how to finance your chapter event:

-Collect event registration fees: Aim to cover your event costs through a nominal registration fee. Not only will people perceive your event’s value as greater, but you will help ensure that those who RSVP do in fact attend.  The online registration tool of the UWM Alumni Directory is available to all recognized chapters and is an easy and free way to collect event registration fees, track attendee sign up, and follow up with registrants leading up to and following the event. 
-Seek out sponsorships: Chapters can ask businesses or organizations for sponsorship revenue or in-kind donations in order to cover event and program expenses. Note: Chapters must request approval from the UWMAA before soliciting businesses for sponsorships. 
-Share the costs: If you are planning an event for a specific group of alumni or students, consider collaborating with a UWM partner, school, or office to split the event expenses.
-Apply for UWMAA support: Chapters can request financial assistance from the UWMAA for events that aim to increase alumni engagement, programs that support current or prospective students, and other strategic programs that contribute to the initiatives detailed in the Chapter Funding Guidelines.

PROMOTING YOUR CHAPTER EVENT
Marketing is the key to building attendance and awareness of your event.  Here are a few ways to make sure your event is well-publicized:
-Utilize the Alumni Directory to create an event page, a registration form, and link for your event (even if there is no fee for attending)
-Advertise your event on social media; see tips in our Communication Tools sections of the toolkit
-Use your local media.  Search for local newspapers or online event calendars that will publicize events for low/no cost.
-Word of mouth! You never know who knows whom.  Having a great event can be the push someone needs to come to another event and bring a fellow Panther!

EVENT PLANNING TIMELINE

12 WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT
A planning team should be assembled. This team will:
-Develop your event idea, share it with the chapter, and contact UWMAA
-Identify event goals and measurable outcomes
-Select target audience(s) and outreach tactics
-Determine the best format for the event
-Develop the event program
-Reach out to speakers, panelists, and others participants
-Select a venue and date
-Consider food and beverage needs
-Create a budget and determine funding
-Craft a publicity plan
-Fill out an Event Request Form

8 TO 10 WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT
-Finalize details with the UWMAA
-Create event registration page and send email invitations using the Alumni Directory
-Spread the word – publicize through social media, the UWMAA website, other online calendars, and individual invitations (don’t be afraid to get creative with your outreach!)
-Work with the UWMAA on program preparation or budgetary planning (contracts, venue and food payments, etc.)

4 TO 8 WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT
-Track registration and follow up on event questions
-Continue outreach and event marketing
-Determine volunteer needs and request help from chapter leaders and members
-Gear up! Identify supplies and materials needed (nametags, raffle tickets, UWMAA spirit gear, UWMAA banner/table cloth) and contact UWMAA to request resources 

2 TO 4 WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT
-Make arrangements for the following, if necessary: laptop, projector, screen, extension cord, podium, microphone, registration table
-Resend email invitation using the Alumni Directory

1 WEEK BEFORE THE EVENT
-Finalize event details and contact speakers, panelists, and event leaders with reminders
-Determine final guest count for venue and caterer, if needed
-Send reminder to registrants with event details, logistical information (directions, parking, etc.), and event agenda
-Gather event materials and supplies
-Contact event volunteers with staffing reminder, event information, and volunteer expectations

A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE EVENT
-Print nametags and registration lists
-Create sign-in form and determine process for ‘walk-ins’
-Gather/prepare signage

DAY OF THE EVENT
-Arrive at the location at least 2 hours early
-Connect with key event players, including: volunteers, venue management and catering, speakers/presenters
-Set up registration table
-Ensure for proper signage
-Welcome and check in attendees
-Execute event and have fun!

WITHIN ONE WEEK OF THE EVENT
-Complete the Event Follow-up form
-Send thank you notes or emails to attendees; include information about upcoming events
-Survey attendees to gather feedback about the event
-Write thank you notes to speakers or presenters
-Follow up with potential members and leaders to personally invite them to become more engaged with the chapter
-Turn in sign-in/attendee sheets to UWMAA staff
-Turn in final budget and expenses information and reimbursement forms (if necessary)
-Complete the UWMAA event evaluation form to reflect on goals set for the event and identify opportunities for future improvement