This article is an overview of the types of events you can use in your green campaign, with tips to think about them strategically, in a way that optimises your outcomes and ensure that they run smoothly.
Events, when executed effectively, bring people together, build momentum and energy, create connections, and demonstrate power. If used strategically, they can catapult your campaign towards success. However, they can be a lot of work to organise and run and if you’re unclear of your event’s goals, it can divert resources in the wrong direction.
Events are an opportunity to bring people together outside of the grunt work of mobilising towards specific actions, and to demonstrate to outside onlookers - be it journalists, other campaigns, or potential supporters - that your campaign has power. While events can be incredible for driving forward momentum and enthusiasm to encourage people to take your campaign to the next level, they can take a lot of time, planning and energy - so be strategic and know why you’re having an event, so you can be sure to take the steps necessary to achieve your set out goals.
The kinds of possible events and their purpose:
Be clear on the intended outcomes of your event and make sure they advance your larger campaign goals. Doing something because it’s expected or because it seems cool is not necessarily the most efficient use of your campaign’s limited resources. Also, don’t try to do everything with one event, or you could miss the mark by stretching yourself too thin or having your event feel scattered.
Don’t forget to always come back to your campaign narrative, by clearly laying out your campaign’s vision and explaining to participants the theory of change behind them taking action/attending your event. The more that supporters feel grounded in what they’re working towards and what you’re achieving together, the better it will be for your campaign’s success.
Many events, particularly during COVID-19, can and are being organised online. While online events may not be as impactful for building connections, there are benefits to having some of your events online. These benefits may include the ability to bring together people from further away areas/regions or those who have busy schedules, being inclusive to those with mobility issues, and as a way to capture data from a wider range of people than would normally show up to an in-person event.
It’s advantageous to leverage your event to drive people further up the ladder of engagement (see What Is Mobilising?). Once people attend an event, they can be more easily convinced to take another action, so be sure to get commitments written down with supporter data, so you can follow up quickly after the event.
As always, your strategy must centre your audience - your potential supporters, voters, donors etc. Think carefully about who you want to engage, why, and what kind of event would achieve that. If you’re looking to make money in donations, you may want to consider an event that appeals to those with disposable income. If you’re looking to create a buzz in a youthful part of town, consider a concert in a cool bar. Be aware of the schedules of your audience - while you might be working full time on a campaign, many people won’t be able to attend an event on a Tuesday afternoon.
While in the midst of a fast-moving campaign, it can be beneficial to spend the most time on molbilising those who already support you. But events are an opportunity to expand outside your bubble and have someone’s attention for a given period, so choose key messages and talking points that could appeal to the friends and families of those who already support you, to try to bring them to your side.
Event planning is time consuming and always takes more work than you think it will, which is why it’s important to have a checklist of tasks. Always build in as much time as you can ahead of an event! You may want to create templates for these (that way they can be optimised for future events). Event planning tasks and roles can be laid out in a shared spreadsheet, with columns for who is responsible and what the progress of a certain task is. Some of these would include:
It’s a good idea to create a run sheet of the event, in order to have a sense of the event’s flow, and to give those involved a clear sense of what is expected of them. Always build in more time than you expect, particularly for transitions and breaks. Example of an event run sheet:
|17:30-18:00||Doors open, attendants arrive and mingle|
|18:00||Attendants asked to head into the main room|
|18:20-18:30||MC warms up the crowd, conveys the successes of the campaign, introduces speakers|
|18:30-18:50||Speaker 1 speech|
|18:50-18:52||MC presents speaker 2|
|18:52-19:12||Speaker 2 speech|
|19:30-20:00||Thank the speakers, attendants mingle with the speakers|
It’s important to remember to designate key roles and flows of information, particularly the main point of contact with decision making power. You want to be sure that this person doesn’t have an overlapping role so they’re available immediately when support is needed.
No matter how much you prepare, things will likely go awry. This is often unavoidable and to be expected. However, try to anticipate frequently asked questions and potential issues so that the event organising team and point of contact are as prepared as possible.
Try to think of every angle you can when it comes to logistics, including how will the event organising team communicate before and during the event? (WhatsApp group, slack channel, walkie talkies etc.) Who is responsible for liaising with the media? Will there be parking available and signposted to? If it’s a Green event, are the food and cutlery “green”? Who could facilitate questions from the audience? Who is responsible for uploading event photos to social media?
Try to think of everything, whether big or small. Avoid planning too many things to do on the day of the event because you will always have your hands full.
Make your event as accessible and inclusive as possible. This can mean ensuring there is a ramp for entry, employing a sign language interpreter, providing resources in other languages than the dominant language, and providing access to gender-neutral bathrooms.
From Mobilising Tools:
Mobilising people to a large-scale event is also an important way to demonstrate power. There are multiple tools available to capitalise on this. Facebook events are a great way to make quick public events such as protests or sit-ins that bring people in. Eventbrite is also a useful and free tool that people can use to organise events. You can also use a CRM that tracks people’s data to register to attend events, responsibly and transparently.
For digital events using an online conferencing platform are great ways to bring people together. This includes:
Once you decide it is strategic to have an event, you will need to promote it in as many ways as possible to ensure you get as many people to attend as possible. You could do this via an email to your supporter list, calling all your key volunteers to attend, putting it up on every local news outlet’s event page you can think of, putting up posters, creating social media ads, etc. Remember that there is nothing worse than a party with no guests!
No matter what your event looks like, be sure to inform your attendants about what to expect next - and what they can do to help. A clear call to action will be what propels the success of your campaign, along with tracking this information. It can sometimes be a good idea to get people to take action on your campaign right then and there - including ending an event with a short foot canvas, making calls, etc.
After you’ve finalised all the logistics of cleaning up and making payments, contact everyone who took part in the event to thank them.
Events are a key element of a successful campaign, but you must be strategic and thoughtful about how and why you’re doing them. Be sure to think of every aspect of the logistics, and plan for every possible eventuality.
Last updated: June 2022