It is important to stay organized when planning an event or program. There are usually many details to remember and tasks to complete. Use the information below to guide your event planning process.
We recommend planning large, campus events the semester prior to the event itself (i.e., plan fall events the spring prior). This allows for plenty of time to execute the event. In addition, events already planned can be advertised in advance to increase attendance!
Brainstorm & Choose an Idea
4-5 weeks prior to event date
*For large scale university-wide events, add several weeks
With your organization or by yourself, brainstorm a list of ideas you would like to provide to the campus community. Remember that there are no bad or outrageous ideas when brainstorming. Review your brainstorm list and discuss the feasibility of each idea. Then choose the program you want to work on as a committee or organization. Communication is key! Please be sure to discuss with your organization’s advisor and work with Student Life staff.
Select Event Title, Location, Time, etc.
4-5 weeks prior
When selecting dates/times, be sure to check the University’s Event Calendar to see if other events are happening on campus that could reduce participation. Be mindful of religious holidays as well.
Things to Take Note Of:
*If you plan on having your event off campus, you must meet with Student Life.
*Are there any potential risks to participants’ well-being and safety? If so, you must meet with Student Life to discuss risk management and waivers of liability. Should Campus Public Safety be notified? Will there be VIP attendees for the event in which the Drake Administration should know about? These are important questions we ask each organization to consider.
Communicate with the Performer/Presenter *if applicable*
4-5 weeks prior (the sooner, the better)
Take some time to call the performer or the performer’s agent to discuss costs, availability, needs, and other important information. Do not confirm or offer anything at this point in the planning! Remember to always have your advisor and Student Life involved in this process. All contracts MUST be first reviewed by Student Life staff--students are unable to approve or sign contracts. (NOTE: The Finance office asks for a minimum of 14 days to review and sign-off on contracts once submitted by Student Life.)
Contracts can take time - so planning ahead and getting them finalized the semester prior is best!
Reserve a Location
4-5 weeks prior
Determine which space on campus would best work for the program and then reserve the location through the Office of Events. Our new online space management program called Virtual EMS allows you to browse space capacities and availability for your event's date. To learn more about reserving space through Virtual EMS, please reference the below guides:
Please note that only the president and VEMS Coordinator of each student organization can reserve space. You will need to make sure one of them is the one who places the reservation.
Make sure to wait until you receive confirmation before you continue the event process to see if space is available. You will receive one confirmation from the Office of Events and a final confirmation from the Office of Student Life.
*If your event will be in or around Olmsted and you need to reserve audiovisual equipment through Virtual EMS. Be sure to do this when you reserve the room/space.
Establish a Budget
4-5 weeks prior
Establishing a budget will assist you in using student funds appropriately and will help determine if you need to seek additional funding. Use the list below to help determine all your expenses for the event. It is important to make sure you have enough money in your organization and/or agency account to put on the event.
*Remember, you must keep all receipts for reimbursements. To be reimbursed, please complete the reimbursement form and submit to the Student Life Center.
**If you will be selling items or collecting money for a fundraiser/philanthropy be sure to reserve a cash box with the Student Life Center at least 5 days prior to the event.
3-4 weeks prior
All honorarium speakers should be contracted. All contracts need to be processed through the Student Life office. Any speaker that will be paid will also need to complete a W-9 (or W-8 if International) tax form in order to be paid. Attach the W-9/W-8 to the contract before sending to Student Life. Contracts must provide the dollar amount requested by the presenter for services rendered.
Reserve Guest Lodging
3-4 weeks prior
Some speakers need lodging (must be written in the contract). Student Life staff can assist you in making reservations. Remember to consider that transportation to and from the hotel, or airport when arranging lodging. In addition, although the contract process may not have been approved yet by Student Life, it would be wise to tentatively hold a room until final approval has been given.
The closest and most convenient hotel is the Holiday Inn Express Des Moines-at Drake University.
Design and Create Publicity Materials
3-4 weeks prior
All publicity should be designed to include necessary information relevant to the event. Interesting forms of publicity are good ways to attract people to your event. If you need help printing or creating publicity, contact the Student Life Center at 515.271.3711. Remember to include all the sponsors’ names on the publicity. University policy on postings can be found here.
If you are posting in the residence halls, be sure to read the residence halls posting policy.
3 weeks prior
Any event requiring food service or beverage service held on campus must be serviced through Sodexo. Follow the link to find more information about Sodexo Catering Services. In addition, you can view Sodexo’s menu by visiting the
2 weeks prior
Some programs may require decorations or special supplies. Remember to keep all your receipts so you can get reimbursed! In order to get reimbursed, be sure you are watching your budget. If spend more than you have in your organization’s account, Accounting will be unable to reimburse for the full amount. The can be found in the Student Life Center.
You also have the option to have Student Life staff purchase your supplies. To do this, you will need to email Isaac Newsome with the links to what needs to be purchased. Remember that shipping can take time, so be sure to request purchases with plenty of time before the event.
Distribute Publicity Materials
2 weeks prior
Make sure your materials are placed in locations that will be seen or heard by the target audience and meets Drake University’s Campus Posting Policy. The Student Life Center must stamp off on the publicity materials before being posted. It is good to get the first “wave” of information out early so everyone can plan to be on campus during your event (i.e., Save the Date). Once the event date comes closer, then it is important to put up “the second wave” of advertisement to keep the event fresh in everyone’s mind. Try and collaborate with other organizations and departments. In addition, be sure to review the University’s Event Calendar to see what other events are already occurring (this should be done during Step 2 of the planning process).
Create a Schedule of Events for the Day
2 weeks prior
In order for your event to be a success, you will need to create a schedule for the day/event. If you have an artist coming to campus, what time do they need a ride, or what time will they arrive on campus? Contact names and numbers for artists or other helpers are of great assistance to staff. Make sure you know what time doors open, event starts, time you need to close the event, etc. Also be sure to confirm with volunteers so the event runs smoothly and everyone enjoys the experience. If your organization is short on volunteers, recruiting help from other clubs is a great way to “co-sponsor” an event.
If your event includes physical activity, you will need to make sure everyone signs a waiver. If you are unsure if your event requires a waiver, please email email@example.com and ask. If you anticipate having minors at your event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get the appropriate waiver for them. Those waivers need to be signed by the parent/guardian of the minor.
A roster-style Waiver can be printed off and signed the day of the event. Completed waivers should be turned into the Student Life Center after the event.
If you would rather have students fill out an online waiver, you can use this link.
Payments, Gifts and Honorariums for Speaker
Day of event
Be sure to have your speaker's payment or gift card prepared by the day of the event. Check the contract to see if you should hand the speaker their check after the event or if it will be mailed. If you are picking up a check to give to the speaker, you will pick those up in the Student Life Center. It is prudent to check a few days before the event to ensure the check is available. We also encourage you give the speaker a thank you card after the event.
Complete a Program Evaluation
1-2 days after
The program evaluation will not only help you do a recap of the event and know how successful it was, it will also help future leadership prepare when planning events to come. Be as complete as possible when writing this out. Be sure to include at least the following: basic information, budget and actual expenses, what went well, what to improve on for next time.
Put all event evaluations in your organization's Google Drive to share with future students!
The Student Life Center and Student Involvement and Leadership Office are located in the Olmsted Center, first floor. You can also ask questions by telephone at 515.271.3711, emailing us, or coming by to meet with us.