Community service is noble work – but it often wouldn’t happen without the substantial legwork that takes place behind the scenes. Organizing a community service event is a multi-faceted endeavor, and it is the chairperson’s responsibility to attend to every detail. Advance planning is crucial, involving everything from setting goals to delegating tasks. If you address a list of components ahead of time, you increase the likelihood that your event will be successful.
Choose a cause. Many types of projects fall within the community service realm. Some ideas include projects to promote the environment, promote safety, fight crime or help the homeless.
Consider the primary reason why the project is needed. If you are planning the event on behalf of an organization, take into account whether the event falls within the spirit of its organizational mission.
Set goals. Pinpoint the project's specific goals and make sure they are measurable. Measurable goals will help you evaluate the event after it is over.
Design the event. Choose the date, time and venue. Then consider what it would take – such as an interesting speaker, food or a unique activity – for people to consider the event fun and worthwhile.
Outline staffing needs. Detail specific duties and who will perform those duties. Recruit volunteers to fill these positions.
List required resources, materials and supplies. For budgeting purposes, note whether each item will be donated or purchased. If donated, record the in-kind value.
Through either written communication or personal presentations, invite potential partners – such as possible event sponsors – to participate in the event. Share a compelling story about how your project will positively impact the community. Then explain to them what they can do to help.
Complete a proposed budget indicating all anticipated income and expenses. Incorporate all the resources, materials and supplies from your list into the expense budget. Be sure that the value of donated items is reflected in the budget.
Promote the event. Communicate the event through all feasible means, such as news releases, direct mail, personal invitations, posters, website announcements and through various social media outlets. Simple word-of-mouth is also highly effective for getting the word out. Be sure to promote the event to area schools (if appropriate) because many students are required to perform community service hours and may be willing to participate.
Devise an alternate plan in case something goes wrong – it never hurts to have a Plan B. Describe potential problems (such as bad weather) that could hamper successful completion of the project. Then formulate solutions to these problems (such as moving the event inside).
Formulate a specific action plan. List the specific steps to bring the project to a successful completion. Show planned dates for each step. Break out steps for the day of the event onto a separate list, as this may be the most detailed and the most referenced list during the event itself.
Lisa Huddleston is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience in health-care public relations. She also served as an editor at Writer’s Digest Books, where she produced the annual “Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market” guide. Huddleston holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Dayton.
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