A tight-knit community can be an incredibly rewarding thing to be a part of. It provides a support system, creates social benefits, is a great source of entertainment, and helps to protect the longevity of the group as a whole.
One of the best ways to build that camaraderie is to run a community event such as a festival, a fun run, car show, church event, etc. But turning an idea for a community event into a reality involves more than just a will to bring people together. With the right practices and tips, though, planning a community event can be fun and a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
Check Local City, State, and HOA Guidelines for Permitting
Before you get into planning any of the details of your events to bring the community together, you need to cross your T’s and dot your I’s with the city, state, and your local Homeowner’s Association (HOA).
Often, even events that may seem simple do require some form of permitting or written permission. This may cost a few dollars or it may be free, depending on the type of event and the permitting agency. And while you may have gone to events in the past where they didn’t secure the proper permissions and permitting, it’s not a risk you should take.
Events can (and do) get shut down all the time for not following this critical step of planning a community event. Take the time now to make sure you’re doing things by the book and you can alleviate all the worries and concerns.
Extra Tip: If you’re running an event with food, make sure you check with the local Health Department. Improperly serving food can open you and your community up to litigation if someone gets sick. Even if you’re bringing in outside food vendors (like food trucks), it’s your responsibility to ensure they have the proper health cards and certifications.
Get a Clear Grasp on the Basics First
Planning a community event is one of those things that seems simple on the surface, but as you dig into it you see there are actually quite a few details that go into the process. Even the best of event planners have to work diligently to ensure they don’t miss something.
The best way to start your planning process is to get a clear grasp on the basics first. By doing this, you can frame all your future decisions to fit within the parameters to mitigate any unexpected conflicts.
Here’s our quick ‘Planning a Community Event Checklist’ to help you dial in some of the decisions you need to figure out. Keep this list handy or bookmark the page so you can reference the checklist every time you put on an event.
- Name of Your Event
- Times (Including start times, end times, and staff set up/report times)
- Number of Guests You Can Accommodate
- Minimum Number of Guests You Need to Run the Event
- Budget (With built-in flexibility for unexpected occurrences and different guest counts)
- Permit Requirements
- Weather Considerations
- Marketing Strategy
- Staffing Needs
- Equipment Rentals
- Traffic Considerations
- Security Needs
- Ticket Selling or Registration Procedures
- Safety and Risk Mitigation
- Preparation Timeline (From today until the event)
- Plans for Breaking Down the Event
A large portion of community events rely on the support and participation of vendors to succeed. As many of these vendors are part of the community, it’s a win-win for everyone involved. That being said, there are some helpful guidelines you can follow to secure vendors and build that successful relationship.
- Start the process early. While most vendors will be excited to work together, they do need time to get their ducks in a row (signage, equipment rentals, products, etc.).
- Use contracts. Many people are scared of contracts and opt to roll the dice without them. And while we understand where these feelings come from, it’s not a smart way to set up and plan your community event. Contracts don’t need to be wildly in-depth, but they do need to cover the particulars of what each party is going to do and things like where liability rests.
- Keep contact information. If you’re planning a community event that’s run annually, the easiest way to secure vendors is to reuse vendors you’ve already worked with in the past. Let them know at the end of this year’s event you plan on doing it again, and reach out well ahead of time next year.
Successfully Market Your Event
Once you get your permits, nail down the particulars, and secure your vendors, you’re just about there. The last step you need to run a successful community event is people! You need people to come to make the event a success. While you and your team know the event is going to be amazing, you have to successfully relay that information to the community to get them to attend.
Here are some great ways you can market your event to drive attendance:
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Creating an Event Website or Landing Page
- Handing Out Flyers in the Community
- Community Bulletin Boards
- Local Media (Newspaper, Radio, and TV)
- Writing a Press Release
- Asking Your Vendors to Share the Information
The Next Step
Planning a community event is a lot of work, but a successful end product is incredibly rewarding and worth every second of effort. Whether this is your first event or you’re a seasoned planner, you know how important it is to get support and help from wherever you can.
One of the best ways to streamline the process and help you get every detail perfect is utilizing technology. Event Espresso is a WordPress plugin with a complete event registration management program that works right out-of-the-box to help with every aspect of your community event. You can do things like creating a landing page for the event, taking registrations and signups, advertising your vendors, collecting emails to contact people, and even selling tickets all in one spot!
It’s the ultimate in event management control, and we highly encourage you to explore how it can help you take your upcoming community event to the next level.