All successful programming begins with comprehensive planning. Before you get too in-depth with producing your event, be sure to spend plenty of time researching and making wise programming decisions. The planning process can be categorized into five steps:

Step I. Initial Inquiry

Before you do any planning....

  • Ask yourself, "Are we the best group to be coordinating this event?"  If the event does not fall in line with your club's purpose/mission, you should not be coordinating it.  If you decide your club should not be coordinating the event, contact another club/organization to take over, while your club provides advice and suggestions.  The most logical group on campus to program large scale social events is Student Union Board, and you are encouraged to collaborate with them (not to mention, you could be eligible for Collaboration Funds!).  A good litmus test of whether or not your club should be sponsoring the event is to review your mission statement (found in your constitution).

  • Make sure your club really wants to do the event.  Don't plan events just because you think you have an interest in the event.  Programming should be a group decision, whether it be made by the club or a committee.

Step II. Create an Idea

After you have established that your group wants to coordinate an event, get the ball rolling by starting with....

  • Evaluating your budget.  How much do you have available in your budget to spend?
  • Coordinating a brainstorming session to generate ideas.
  • Refining your ideas, and solidify them by:
    • Identifying a target audience.  (Who will attend the event?)
    • Establishing a timeline to get tasks accomplished. (Who will get what done by when?)
    • Creating a list of potential co-sponsors.
    • Reserving preferred and backup locations for the event.
    • To help ensure your event is accessible to all, check out the Inclusive Event Design Checklist here.
  • Reviewing the club's program files for past successes/failures with similar events.
  • Asking other student organizations/campus departments about their successes and failures with similar programs.
  • Identifying and approaching co-sponsors for collaborative opportunities.  (Search NDCentral for various clubs and organizations)  The Student Activities Office can assist you in identifying co-sponsors--for details, contact the Student Activities Office.

FYI - If you are interested in bringing national entertainment to campus, check out the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) agency listing.

  • As an NACA member school, Notre Dame has access to a variety of collegiate entertainment options which your club could sponsor!
  • Some of these events could include:
    • lectures, bands, magicians, hypnotists, coffeehouse entertainment, and much, much more!
  • For more information regarding NACA entertainment, contact Antwann Harper, Assistant Director for Student Programming in the Student Activities Office.

Step III. Establish a Tentative Date

The scheduling of your event can be one of the most pivotal components which determine the success of your event. With this in mind, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself regarding the proposed event date.

  • Are there any other events planned for that day?
  • Do we have enough time to plan this event (For a typical event, give yourself at least 3-4 weeks)?
  • Is the ideal facility available that day?
  • Will students come to an event on that day?
  • Are there other events we could piggyback on to make it an evening full of entertainment?
  • Are there any themes we can associate with the date?
  • Here are some dates to consider which may have a negative impact on programming:
    • During midterms or final exams
    • Immediately before or after a vacation (Fall Break, Spring Break)
    • Home athletic events at the same time as your event
    • Major religious holidays
    • Major dance/event weekends for residence halls
    • Cross-programming against major, annual campus events (however, these could be excellent opportunities for co-sponsorships!)  Check the University Calendar.

Step IV. Reserve a Facility

After selecting a date for your event, investigate available facilities.

  • For ideas on where to hold your event, go to the Facilities page.
  • Booking space within LaFortune Student Center, Duncan Student Center, Stepan Center, Washington Hall, DeBartolo, Mendoza, and/or outdoor grounds, is done directly through your NDCentral event request.
  • Please be aware that certain facilities may not be available for the date you have selected.  In these circumstances, you will need a backup date, so be prepared with one.

Step VI. Establish a Budget and Deadlines

After you have reserved a facility, create an event budget (click here for more information on club funding). Be sure to include all expenditures which the event may incur. 

Next, establish deadlines for completing tasks. A checklist format typically is the most effective way to do this. A sample program planning checklist can be found here.

Post-Event Evaluation

Now that your event is over, you're done, right?


Effective programming does not end when the facility closes the night of your event. To wrap up the completion of your event, you may wish to consider...

  • Completing a Program Evaluation and Notes Document (to put in your club's historical files for future use).
  • Coordinating a final evaluation meeting for all interested parties (be sure to include all co-sponsors!).
  • Reviewing any feedback surveys you distributed at the event.
  • Following up with any dissatisfied members of the audience. (If someone, complained, seek their input and make a determination of how you can resolve the issue).
  • Reviewing your event budget, and compare your actual expenses to your budgeted expenses.
  • Sending thank you letters to:
    • Co-Sponsors
    • Entertainers
    • Special Guests
    • Offices/Staff which helped you coordinate your event
  • Checking with the facility manager to ensure nothing was damaged/stolen.
  • Following through to ensure everyone has received payment/reimbursement for their services.

Hopefully some of these ideas will get you thinking of ways you can provide closure to your successful events and activities!

If you need assistance with evaluating your program, please don't hesitate to contact the Student Activities Office.