Event Planning 101

An event is any activity that requires you to make arrangements before the program can actually take place. It may be anything from an introductory meeting or study break to a concert, film, conference, or dramatic performance. 


The earliest stage of event planning is pre-planning or event development. This is where you create a vision for your event. You should consider the following questions:

  • What is the event's purpose?
  • Who will be involved in the event? What are the responsibilities of your volunteers or coordinators?
  • Do you have co-sponsors? If not, what are some potential co-sponsors for your event, and what is their role? 
  • Who is your intended audience? What's the expected event attendance?
  • What are your org's available funds?
  • How do you plan to market the event?
  • Are you serving food and/or alcohol? If so, have you reached out to Catering Services to determine a menu?
  • What's a realistic timeline for event planning?
  • Where should the event take place? If outdoors, do you have a rain location in mind?
  • What are the possible dates and times for your event? Have you determined a space through Event Management? Keep in mind religious and College holidays, as well as other campus events, while determining a date.


Planning for your event is very important. Do not assume anything. For example, when you think about reserving a room on campus, do not assume that the room will have furniture in it or that a podium and microphone will be there for you. Keep in mind that in the business of event planning, the only thing that will happen for you is what your organization arranges to happen

Once you know what you want to do, you can then begin tackling the logistics of making it happen.

Step One: Program Idea

Your organization is encouraged to meet with your cluster manager for inspiration while determining what kind of event to hold. Ideas include organizing a symposium, theatrical performance, film, concert, panel and discussion, arts exhibit, or cookout. The possibilities are endless! Keep in mind the reason why you are sponsoring the event.

Step Two: Planning

Once you have an idea of your event, develop a timeline of tasks leading up to the event. Consider and contact potential co-sponsors. Determine a realistic expectation of event attendance. Decide on catering needs. Calculate how much funding is necessary and how much is available. Determine possible dates and times for the event. Your organization’s leaders should delegate various responsibilities to members at this point. Necessary contractual arrangements (i.e., artist contract or letter of agreement) should also be finalized six to eight weeks prior to the event. Please work with your cluster manager when contracting outside entertainment.

Step Three: Meet with cluster manager

Your organization should meet with your cluster manager and discuss the planning proposal. If your event includes co-sponsorships, these commitments must be confirmed, and you must specify the dollar amounts that each organization is committing to the project. Make sure to confirm your budget for the event. Set up a time to touch base with your cluster manager each week leading up to the event. 

Step Four: Obtain funding

The most common source of funding for your organization is the student activity fee, which is administered by the SGAFC. If your organization’s budget limits their ability to hold an event, you should request additional money from the SGAFC or in the case of the RLC, MILC and SCB, your cluster board. If you want to bring a speaker to campus, you must meet with the MCAB Speakers Committee. If you request your own concert, you should utilize the MCAB Small Concerts Initiative. The Innovation and Collaboration Fund (ICF) also encourages collaboration between organizations. Please view the section on Additional Funding Resources in the Student Org Handbook for more information about the ICF. 

Step Five: Schedule an Event

Scheduling events may involve communication with Student Activities or your assisting department and Event Management. Requests should be submitted using the online form found at go/scheduling. Tammy Grant will help you with all organization scheduling after you’ve submitted the request. Check out go/25live to find helpful information about spaces on campus, including availability, capacity, and accommodations.

When exploring space options for your event, please take into consideration accessibility and inclusion, such as ADA status, all-gender restroom proximity or max capacity. To learn more about the accessible spaces on campus and their features, please use the following resources: ADA Accessible Spaces Complete List, ADA Accessible Spaces with Close Restroom and ADA Accessible Spaces with Partial Restroom

Notes: If you are planning an event that requires any type of support from Facilities Services or the use of tech equipment, your request must be submitted at least 7 days prior to your event. Adjustments cannot be made after the 7-day window has closed.

If your organization requires designated space for meetings or events, you should first refer to the scheduling guidelines found under “Policies” on the Event Management website at: http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/scheduling/scheduling_policies.

Step Six: Organize Program Activities

Three to five weeks before the event, your organization should make publicity materials such as posters or banners. Arrangements for special equipment including audiovisual services, tables, etc., should be made. Catering arrangements should be completed. Two to three weeks prior to the event, all campus support and notifications should be finalized, and all checks for payment should be requested. Students may receive a temporary timecard for a one-time payment for a performance or service.

Note: For more information on publicizing events, visit pages 23-24 of the Student Org Handbook at go/studentorghandbook. Also, review the Additional Event Planning Considerations below for more information on catering. 

Step Seven: Accomplish Program

The day before the event, your organization should make a final check-up on the facility, seating, catering, and equipment for the event. During the day of the event, your leaders should ensure that all responsibilities are carried out and details are underway to ensure a smooth operation. Immediately after the event ends, be sure to clean up the space, return all borrowed equipment, and remove all publicity materials around campus. 22 Your treasurer should also be sure to track all expenses; remember to submit all vouchers and receipts in a prompt manner to Student Activities or your assisting department.

Step Eight: Evaluate the Program

In order to improve on future programming, think about what went right and what could be improved about the event. Following a major event, your organization’s leaders may want to meet with their cluster manager and event organizers.

For assistance with developing a specific event plan, please contact Student Activities at student_activities@middlebury.edu or your cluster manager.

Additional Event Planning Considerations

Box Office Services
If your organization is planning to sell tickets for an event, you should utilize the Box Office. Prior to the ticket sale date, the Box Office can market the tickets on their website, which receives traffic from both students and community members. Box Office student staff will also take care of ticketing the day of the event in many venues around campus. The Box Office service fee is $1 per ticket. Additionally, 7% sales tax must be paid on gross sales. The Box Office services request form can be found at go/tickets on the right side of the page. For more information, contact Debby Anderson at danderso@middlebury.edu or stop by the Box Office in McCullough.

There are several catering options available to your organization: discounted menu items from the Grille, off-campus caterers, store-bought items, and take-out from off campus. Some events can also be accommodated in Atwater, McCullough, Proctor, Ross, and at 51 Main. Check out go/catering for more details.

Outdoor Fire Pits and Grills
Use of fire, or lighting a fire without an authorized fire permit, inside or outside of buildings, other than smoking in authorized outdoor spaces, is prohibited. The use of outdoor grills is limited to authorized locations at small houses and must be approved before use. The use of portable fire pits is also prohibited.

Crowd Managers
You are required to supply crowd managers for any activities involving more than 50 attendees or participants. Check out the complete policy here: go/crowdmanager. If members of your organization need crowd management training, review go/trainings to learn when the next session is being offered.

Film Screenings
If your organization wishes to screen a film, you may need to obtain public performance licensing to comply with U.S. copyright laws. To obtain licensing, planning must begin at least 23 two weeks in advance of the screening date. To begin this process, you must submit a Film Rental Form after reserving a screening room. The Library will then advise on licensing requirements and fees, which vary per film. If you suspect you will need tech support on the day of the screening, be sure to include a request for Media Services support when submitting your room reservation. In most situations, you will pick up your film at the circulation desk in the Library the day of your event. Return the film promptly to the same location.

Student Activities Supplies
Student Activities has a number of tables, chairs, equipment and supplies that your organization can borrow free of charge. If your organization is requesting to borrow SA equipment via email, phone, or in-person, you will need to have an equipment sign-out form on file with Student Activities. Use the “Outside Storage Inventory” sheet to locate the item number(s) of equipment to be borrowed and write them down on the sign-out form. Your organization’s member that is picking up the equipment should receive a photocopy or scan of the original sign-out form. You can only take out the items designated by the item numbers on the sign-out form. Confirmation that all borrowed equipment has been returned undamaged and clean is necessary. Report any loss of items or damage to Maria Farnsworth at mfarnswo@middlebury.edu