This is a general event planning checklist, targeted toward activities with a lifelong learning or professional development component. As such, not all tasks may be applicable to the event you are hosting. Many of the included suggestions, however, can be extended to social/networking events as well. This is also an idealized timeline. It may not be realistic for all club activities (especially last-minute speaker sign-on), but it is certainly a best practice to which to aspire in your club’s overall event planning process.
While it’s likely that these responsibilities will be split between club leaders, please be sure that everyone on your leadership team is clear about their responsibilities and deadlines. As most volunteers typically lead very busy lives, regular reminders from the primary event coordinator/champion may be helpful/necessary to ensure everything gets done. See more volunteer management tips here.
Three – Four Months Prior To Event
- Determine funding, budget, and timeline.
- Identify, invite, and confirm speakers.
- Determine and reserve a venue. While doing so, consider your audiovisual (A/V) needs and ensure that the venue will be able to support them.
- Ask up front if the venue requires a contract for space or catering. If yes, the contract must be sent through and signed by the University of Michigan Procurement Department. This can be an extended process; please send the contract to MiRossAlumniClubs@umich.edu as soon as possible. As per U-M policy, contracts cannot be signed by club leadership.
- Begin developing relevant materials such as agendas, print materials, or presentations.
- If your goal is to draw senior-level management to C-Suite attendees, aim to send a “save the date” ninety days prior to the event; it can be very difficult for executives to add to their schedules at the last minute.
Two Months Prior
- Confirm expense and payment arrangements.
- Draft program agenda.
- Contact vendors as required for: tent, stage, podium, chairs, tables, etc.
- For maximum event attendance, send “save-the-date” notices to the club via email and/or social media a minimum of six weeks before the event.
- Be sure to post the save the date as an event on the club portal as well, and build out additional event details on the posting further down the event planning timeline.
One Month Prior
- Post event details to the club website and social media forums.
- Using the “Add Event” feature on the club portal ensures club events will be pulled into the Michigan Ross public calendar and will also be visible on the events section on the right-hand side of the School’s alumni website. This is a great way to advertise your event to a larger audience, potentially reaching non-local/non-affiliation Ross alumni who may be traveling through the area during the time of the event and are looking for a way to connect with local Ross alums.
- Create a registration page through the club portal if you plan to collect RSVPs or charge an attendance fee.
- Email marketing materials through the portal and any additional mailing lists you use.
- Finalize program and agenda.
- Send electronic invitations.
Two – Three Weeks Prior
- Contact speakers to discuss presentations and see if they need additional information or support.
- Review staffing assignments for the day of the event; explain all duties and responsibilities.
- Reiterate A/V equipment needs with the venue to ensure they will be met.
- Confirm arrangements with all outside vendors or venues.
- If you haven’t already, contact Michigan Ross via MiRossAlumniClubs@umich.edu to request event expense payment through the Office of Alumni Engagements’ corporate card.
One Week Prior
- Contact the caterer, venue, and outside vendors to verify all arrangements.
- Print programs, agendas, fliers, name badges, seating charts, place cards, etc.
- Print one or several guest sign-in sheets if you will not be checking in attendees from a registration list. Please use this Michigan Ross alumni club sign-in sheet if possible.
- Verify details with the venue, confirm AV needs, and send venue room layout and instructions.
- Assemble any materials for distribution to participants.
- Assign event shifts for group volunteers (set-up, during, take down).
Day Before Event
- Ensure all material is prepared, printed, and ready to distribute.
- Print guest list and/or prepare registration process, if applicable.
Day of Event
- Arrive early and check that location is set up correctly; confirm A/V materials are present.
- Ensure decorations and food arrangements are in place.
- Check all microphones, projectors, audio equipment, and computer connections.
- Check the registration area. Set out sign-in sheets, and make sure name tags, supplies, and materials are plentiful.
- If you are signing receipts for event food, beverages, or the venue space, be sure to keep an itemized copy and a signed copy, to be sent to the Office of Alumni Engagement post-event.
- During or at the end of the activity, don’t forget to recognize any and all supporting volunteers who helped pull the event together. Congratulations on a job well done!
After Event (One to five days after)
- Make sure all payments to vendors and venues have been fully handled. If applicable, reconcile event financials with Ross Alumni Engagement representative — send itemized and signed receipts and the event attendance sheet to MiRossAlumniClubs@umich.edu. If your attendance sheet is in electronic spreadsheet form, please send as an excel document rather than as a pdf, if possible.
- Send thank you notes to speakers, volunteers, and others who helped with the event. If you need any, or more, thank you notes with the Michigan Ross logo, please let the Alumni Engagement Office know.
- Complete the brief event follow-up survey emailed by the Office of Alumni Engagement to the event’s designated coordinator (in place of a long end-of-year Annual Report)
Canceling An Event
Sometimes conflicts arise, resources decline, or schedules intensify such that activities in their early planning stages may need to be canceled or postponed. In these scenarios, out of courtesy and respect, it is especially important to follow up with any potential speakers or venue hosts your club may have contacted to participate in the event to notify them of the change or that the event will no longer be moving forward.