How to Organize Community Events to Raise Awareness

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Powerful things can happen when communities come together in common interest. Whether you want to save Darfur, promote your favorite political candidate, reduce air pollution or raise money for a recreation center, community-attended events are a great way to get others involved in your cause. While impromptu gatherings are fun, you'll be more successful in creating awareness if you do some careful planning. Make sure you take steps to publicize the occasion, secure a venue and organize agenda details to make sure your event comes off without a hitch.

  • Set event goals, determining what you hope to achieve. These goals provide a structure around which you can plan the details of your event, from guest lists to speakers and advertising to refreshments.

  • Check your dates and times to be sure that your community event does not conflict with other area events. You don't want to lose valuable attendance because you're competing with another community group.

  • Organize an audience attention-getter like a public speaker, a video clip, a musical performance or a prize giveaway. Providing some form of entertainment or thought-provoking message makes events more memorable for audiences, and helps to call them to action afterward.

  • Find some friends and neighbors who share your enthusiasm for your cause or issue of interest. Meet together to brainstorm event ideas, organize a planning timeline and delegate responsibilities.

  • Create a flier or brochure to advertise your community event. Programs like Microsoft Publisher and Adobe Photoshop can be used to create a visually interesting document advertising your event plans, along with supplying the location, date and time. Email an online version of your flier to friends, family and coworkers, and have some hard copies printed up to distribute in your neighborhood. Visit StockLayouts.com for a free, downloadable flyer template to personalize and raise event awareness (see Resources below).

  • Type up a printed agenda for your event, including start and end times for speakers, video clips, entertainment and refreshments. Allow a little wiggle room between agenda item starting times so the event doesn't run too far past the scheduled time.

  • Don't forget to include a social or interactive time on your event agenda. While attendees will enjoy the activities you have planned, they will appreciate a time to mingle, discuss issues, socialize and enjoy refreshments in a less structured environment.

  • Realize that being an activist takes more than having an opinion. Visit PlanetFriendly.net for a list of citizenship and advocacy groups you can become involved in (see Resources below). The site also provides access to fundraising guides, event planning resources and user forums.

Tips & Warnings

  • Let attendees know that you'd like to make your event an annual tradition. Spend time socializing and meeting others who will help you raise awareness for your cause. They might even agree to help you with next year's event planning.
  • If you're holding an issue-oriented event like a peace rally, a register-to-vote party or a political get-together, visit Cafe Press to order apparel, signs and novelty items (see Resources below). These items are also good for publicity and event giveaways.
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