Neighborhood activities and events are a fun way for neighbors and association members to get together, get to know one another, network, fundraiser and receive important information. Activities and events help to raise awareness of your association and purpose. The activity/event should fit the needs and mission of the association. The following are some basic building blocks in planning and executing a successful neighborhood activity/event. These steps are not meant to be allinclusive, but an outline that your association may tailor to fit your specific needs.
The first step is to figure out what type of activity/event your association wants to host. Once that is decided you can settle on more specific details like forming a committee and recruiting a chair to handle the details of the activity/event. The activity/event chair/volunteers needs to determine:
- Format —food, entertainment, informational, sit down, standing only, etc.
- Name for activity/event
- Date & time
- Budget—put together a budget based on the event’s needs
- Speakers or special guests
- Expected attendance
- What other events or holidays are scheduled at this same time? Will any of these events or holidays compete with your event?
Start by answering the following:
- Why does the association want to host an activity/event?
- What type of activity/event does the association want to host?
- What is the purpose of the activity/event?
- Who are we trying to attract to this activity/ event?
- Does the proposed activity/event fit the association or neighborhood needs and mission?
- Which association members have the knowledge to plan the specific activity/ event?
- What resources does the association have to support the activity/event (funding, volunteers, etc.)?
- How are you going to define success for this activity/event?
Any successful event or activity needs to be well organized from the start to the finish. The event will need a chair and members with specific responsibilities.
Committees are the basic operating tool for associations and require the association leadership to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the committee chair and members.
From the start of the committee, it is critical that the association leadership clearly defines its expectations and outcome for the event or activity and provides any resources that will help the chair/committee put on a successful event.
The committee chair and members need to clearly define their roles, tasks and deadlines. To easily determine what jobs or roles are needed, start at the very beginning of the event and finish at the very end with the last task that needs to be done to wrap up the event.
For example, if your association is planning a picnic, here are some examples of tasks for committee members.
Logistics – securing the appropriate permits, location and equipment needed, such as tables, chairs, coolers, grills, extension cords, tents, trash containers/bags, etc., handling the set up and clean up of the event, and trash pickup during the event if appropriate.
Sponsors – securing funding or inkind food and beverage donations and door prizes, including sending thank you notes, photos, etc., to all sponsors.
Food – coordination of covered dishes and/or purchasing and preparation, drinks, utensils, plates, cups, napkins, etc.
Activities and Entertainment – planning and coordinating any type of entertainment from playing CDs, the radio, live music; having activities for children and teens – the committee may want to recruit teens to help identify and conduct the activities; coordinating informational displays by the City of Orlando, neighborhood businesses and community organizations.
Promotions – inviting/publicizing the event well in advance so neighbors, City officials, neighborhood businesses and other guest are given enough time to include the event in their schedules, putting the event details on the association’s website, in the newsletter and posting it on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, taking pictures at the event for the association website, newsletter and social media.
Meeters and Greeters – providing a warm welcome to everyone attending the event and managing a sign in table - you want to capture the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of all your neighbors attending. Assign someone to introduce new neighbors to other neighbors - this is a nice touch and will make the new neighbors feel welcome.
The above is meant to be general examples and certainly doesn’t include every task needed to make your event a success.
Before moving on, what needs to be emphasized is the importance of all the committee members helping to clean up after the event. What happens too often after the event is over and everyone is tired, that neighbors and committee members will go, leaving the clean up to a few dedicated committee members. So, when making assignments, clearly assign all the members to clean up tasks. Many hands make the clean up a lot easier and faster.
Alright, you have your committee in place, the event has been planned and now the next step is to invite your neighbors, association members, City officials, such as your City Commissioner and your Neighborhood Relations team, and other guests, such as neighborhood business leaders or owners, church and members from other organizations. You can do this through a physical invitation, social media, phone calls, email, in the neighborhood newsletter and doorto-door interactions. Inviting your guests face-to-face is the most personable approach. Here are a few things to think about:
- Are you expecting guests with disabilities? If yes, how could you accommodate them?
- Where will guests park for the event?
- Will you have guests wear nametags?
- Will you charge for attendance?
- Are you going to give out gifts to speakers or attendees?
- Are attendees allowed to bring guests of their own?
Whichever method you choose for your event invitation, make sure to follow up with neighbors to get an accurate head count of guests. This is especially important if you decide to serve food and beverages at your event. Having too much or not enough food can become a problem.
Next, you must decide what equipment you might need for the event. This could include anything from tables and chairs to audio/visual equipment. Some examples of physical needs for events could include:
Tables, chairs, portable backdrop, lectern, plants, podium, trash cans, etc.
- What will your event need?
- How many will you need?
- How will they be arranged?
- Who is monitoring the trash to keep the containers from overflowing?
Food & beverages
- Are there any guests with dietary needs?
- Will you use an outside vendor or neighborhood potluck?
- What equipment will you need? (Microphones, computers, projectors, pointers, etc.
- Will you need Internet access at the event?
- Will you need someone to help you run the equipment during the event?
Note: If you plan on closing the streets, make sure to complete a Block Party Permit at least 14 days prior to the event.
Depending on your event, you might want to publicize and promote it to the public. You can do this through posters and flyers, the media, advertisements in local newspapers, social media, etc. Other things to consider include:
- Is the event going to be public or private?
- What is the best way to reach your target audience?
- What is the budget for advertising and promotion for this event?
- Is this event a fundraiser for the association?
Now that your event is here, it’s time to set up and put together all of the final details. Utilize your committee and recruit other volunteers to set up and breakdown your event. This can be very helpful especially for larger events like block parties. Make sure that you create a list or timeline of what needs to get done before the event so that you and your volunteers can refer back to it when setting up. This makes adapting to sudden changes before the event easier. You should consider the following questions:
- Will you need to clean up the location before the event? After? Both?
- How complicated is your set up?
- How much time will you need to reserve to completely set up for the event?
- Is heavy equipment or machinery that needs specialized set up involved?
Be sure to assign committee members and other volunteers to clean up. Too often after the event everyone leaves, with just a few people left to clean up.
Once your event starts have fun and don’t worry about the little things. Your guests do not have a detailed list of your event plans and often times don’t notice if something doesn’t go the way you wanted.
After your event, reflect on your success and on what went well and what needs improvements for your next event. Make sure to keep your notes and contacts so that you or someone else can refer back to them for a future event. Be sure to send thank you notes to the appropriate sponsors, businesses, etc.
Just one last step to take and it’s a very important step – promote the success of the event using the photos taken at the next meeting, on the association’s website and social media and in the newsletter. Also remember to recognize the committee that put together the event. Recognize them at the next association meeting, on the association web site and social media sites. Recognizing and saying thanks to the event volunteers goes a long way and is always appreciated.
Remember to reach out to the City’s Office of Communications and Neighborhood Relations for best practices, ideas and resources for neighborhood events. Call 407.246.2169.