When planning a large event there are A LOT of details. To help keep things straight I had an Excel spreadsheet with different tabs, such as – location, volunteers, day of event agenda, and materials. Whatever your organization system is use it and live by it!
While organization is important, you also need to be flexible. A the last minute we learned that the amazing Connie Shultz would be available to speak, and I had to move some things around with my program. Also up to the day of the event I was still working on preparing the speakers. All in all, I had structure, but allowed for changes when it was needed. There will also be the unexpected when planning events!
When you are hosting an event on a contentious issue, be prepared for opposition. Usually opposition doesn’t post physical threats, but can be a huge downer! If there are groups that strongly oppose your issue in the area get on their mailing lists to help keep track of what they are up to. This is exactly how we learned at a school board meeting there was going to be a large opposition presence. Also, NEVER ENGAGE your opposition! It detracts from your event and gives them exactly what they want – attention. Just let them be, and move on!
Get the word out – social media, and student groups
For this event most recruitment was through social media, emails and organizing by campus groups. I cannot say enough about how AMAZING the college students were that I worked with for this event. They not only got the word out, but arranged car pools too! Also either from Facebook or another site, keep track of how many people plan on attend. This helps estimate how many supplies you will need the day of the event.
Find peoples’ strengths and let them shine!
You volunteers really are the stars, let them shine! I did my best to try to assign volunteer task before the event and during the event that let my volunteers shine! Also there can be great opportunities to give people thanks through your event. For example, the amazing students that helped recruit for the event were given the opportunity to speak and promote their group at the event.
All in all, the event was amazing! We had around 200 supporters come out. At the event people were able to share their stories about Planned Parenthood and follow our social media sites.
During the rally we had representatives from our staff talk about our impact in the community, teens from our peer education program spoke about why Planned Parenthood is important to teens, in addition to reading patient stories, college students spoke about activism on their campus, and finally Connie Shultz and Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards talked about the important of young people getting involved with this movement!
… and I got to hang out with Cecile!