There are literally hundreds of Birmingham Alumni Events each year in Birmingham. With numerous local colleges and universities and plenty of alumni from other universities, this city has numerous events each week!
If you are called upon to plan an alumni event, where do you start? This blog series gives you the individual steps to make your event a success!
Talk to Your Alumni Association
Remember that the Alumni Association of your college or university probably has help for you. Call them and ask for their staff liaison and see what they have to offer! They probably have specific policies you need to be aware of if you are using the name of the institution for your marketing.
Written Plan and Binder
Start by creating a filing system on your computer as well as a physical binder for the event. You will need the physical binder for signed contracts as well as a working copy of various forms etc. Both of these will contain the planning documents. The plan should contain all of the information below as well as contact numbers, copies of contracts, lists of potential attendees etc.
Start by defining your goals and objectives. What is the purpose? How would you define success? Is the local chapter or club involved and what is their view on this event?
Select a Date and Time
Remember that the event should not conflict with other community events of import. Also, it should not conflict with major college events as many alumni will attend them decreasing your attendance.
Set a Budget
Most clubs and chapters of college alumni are responsible for their own funding. The budget should be adequate enough to have a successful event. The budget should contain line items for each individual expense. Remember that some of the money will be needed up front to reserve the venue and to give deposits for various vendors. Budget items to include are: venue rental, catering, marketing, photographer, postage, web site design, printed material, parking, entertainment, equipment and décor rental, security, service and clean up fees, honorarium.
Do you plan a written or electronic invitation, if written, what type: flyer, postcard, newsletter, printed card and envelope? How many do you need? When should it arrive? Do you want to have a Save-The-Date mailing? From whom do you obtain the contact information for the mailings?
Invitations obviously come in a wide variety of forms. No matter what you choose, any invitation should contain: Name of Event, Date/place/time, Attire, Directions, RSVP information, Tax deductibility of donations, name to write donation if applicable.
Finding a Venue
Venues come in all shapes and sizes and offer numerous styles. The most important issue in choosing a venue is the expected attendance. There are plenty of venues that can hold 50 people, 350 is another story. In general venues charge in proportion to their size. You should find one that is a little bigger than you expected attendance to save money.
Also, remember that privately run venues generally have a lower operating cost than the major hotels. They also typically have much more charm, something that makes your event much more meaningful for your attendees.
Book your venue early. They book up on weekends and holidays as long as 14-16 months in advance! Great venues are in high demand. Choose carefully, but choose early!
Woodrow Hall has two separate, historic, restored banquet halls. The larger one can hold up to 350. The smaller easily seats 100. We have attempted to maintain the vintage look in the furnishings and lighting. But at the same time, we have added LCD projectors, plasma screen TVs, modern sound systems and lots of other great restoration touches! Call 205-243-4243 for more information and for an appointment to visit!