A Clear Planning Timeline for Alumni Events

If you've ever hosted an alumni event, you know event planning is not as simple as setting up a Facebook invite and hoping people actually show up. Successful events can take months to plan and require a significant amount of coordination. 

Whether you are planning a reunion, tailgate or fundraiser, these tips will help you to make your next event a smash. Here's a timeline as you begin the planning process:

Three to four months prior

  • Develop a roadmap: Hey, you’re doing that right now! Gather your leadership group or committee to work backwards from the event and set key deadlines. 
  • Set a budget: Determine your available funding for the event and whether you’ll need to charge for tickets or perform other fundraising. 
  • Reserve a venue: Identify and reserve a venue that fits your event and your anticipated capacity. 
  • Save the date: If you anticipate people will need to travel, as for a reunion, share the save-the-date information for the event across your platforms, including email and social media.

Two months before

  • Contact vendors: Start securing vendors for food, rentals, entertainment and whatever else your program needs. 
  • Confirm expenses: Make sure you are clear with vendors what the amount will be and how/when you will pay. 
  • Create a program: Design a rough timeline of events for your internal team.
  • Share event info: If you have not already, remind invitees to save the date. 

One month prior

  • Post event details: Share information like time, address and events across multiple platforms. Use tools like Facebook to collect RSVPs. 
  • Send an email: Remind folks about the event with an email linking to your registration page, if applicable. 
  • Confirm the schedule: Finalize the program for the event.

One to two weeks before

  • Contact key personnel: Email any vendors, speakers or volunteers to confirm they are still attending and verify last-minute details. 
  • Check the venue: Verify details, including a final headcount. 

The day before

  • Collect all necessary materials: Gather any decorations, giveaways, tables or other items you’ll need for tomorrow in one place. If you can, drop off items at the venue now. 
  • Remember to print: Print anything you need, such as signage, programs, nametags and registration sheets. Don’t forget the pens!

The day of the event

  • Arrive early: If you are leading the event, make sure you’re prepared to help set up, coordinate volunteers and answer questions. 
  • Set up: Put out any tables, tents or food. If you’re working with an event planning company or other vendors, be available to answer questions. 
  • Create a check-in spot: Have a welcome space with a sign-in sheet for collecting names and emails, and have name tags out to make networking easier. 

After the event

  • Pay vendors: Make sure all payments are finalized with vendors. 
  • Say thanks: Send a follow-up to any speakers, performers or volunteers, thanking them for their help. Leave reviews for vendors. 
  • Enter emails: If you collected emails, add them to your system for future communications!

Events are a large part of what make alumni communities so successful, as they allow classmates to reconnect. While they can be time-consuming to plan, the work is worth the memories.

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