Event Tips and Ideas
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE THE EVENT
Location, Location, Location!
If you are recognized by your school and you can reserve meeting space, keep in mind that you ideally want a place that’s easy to find, easy to get to. It also might help to schedule all of your events in the same place, so that members always know where to go.
- Film Screenings
Feature Length Films: Grass, The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, Traffic, In Pot We Trust, Waiting to Inhale, and American Drug War
Short Films, and Specials: Ecstasy Rising, Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation, Perversion of Justice, ACLU Freedom Files, Clergy Against the Drug War, Penn and Teller’s Bullshit!: The War on Drugs, and Shovelling Water.
- Host a Speaker
- Hold a Panel Discussion with Professors, Speakers, or Students
- Host a Debate on campus
- Hold a “Know Your Rights” event, and screen a Flex Your Rights documentary
- Take Action with a Rally, Demonstration, or Speak-Out
- Host an SSDP Social at a local restaurant, cafe, or bar
- Hold a Chapter Fundraising Event
- Invite a local politician to speak about their views on drug policy
- Register voters
- Phonebank for Amendment 64, the 2012 marijuana legalization initiative in Colorado
Past Chapter Events That Have Been Successful
- Voices of Change: Building Stronger Communities through Drug Policy Reform
- University of Michigan SSDP Visionary Art Auction
- Urban Crime Fighters: How Our Drug Laws Effect Your City
- The War on Drugs is a War on Women
- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: Why Cops Want to Legalize Drugs
- Film Screening: The Union: The Business Behind Getting High
- The War on Drugs is a War on Us: Why Students are Fighting Back
- The War on the Environment: Why Our Drug Laws are Killing the Amazon Basin
- Just Say Know: Reality-Based Drug Education
Putting on a successful event is easy. We’ve outlined some of the steps that need to be taken to ensure any event your chapter wants to organize is a success.
1. Book the event
Two or three people should share the responsibility of organizing the event. The lead organizer should pick a date, time, and locations that work for the chapter, the speaker, and the university. Check with the university calendar and other student organizations to avoid competition with other meetings or events likely to attract the same audience. Don’t rush: the more time you have to plan, the better your event will be.
2. Pack the house
Filling the seats is the most important part of organizing any event. You must find people to attend the event. It looks and feels better to pack a smaller room that seats 50, even if it’s overflowing with people, than to have a large venue for 300 that seems and feels empty.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Ask a few teachers to offer extra credit to students who attend the event.
- Send an email with the event details to your chapter email list and SSDP’s regional list.
- Make posters and put them up on campus bulletin boards and high traffic areas.
- Ask other groups to announce the events at their meetings and send it out to their lists.
- Post announcements and reminders on Facebook and Twitter.
- Create a Facebook Event hosted by your chapter’s Facebook Group.
- Get your event listed in campus and community newspapers. These papers will often have a free calendar of events or you can take out an advertisement, if you can afford one.
3. Get media to cover the event
Designate one person as a spokesperson to work with the media. He or she should work with your Outreach Director to develop press releases and help with pitching the story to local reporters. SSDP will also provide you with talking points and we can help you develop Op-Ed pieces and letters to the editor as well.
4. Prepare in advance
For any event, you must be prepared in order for things to run smoothly.
- If you’re hosting a speaker, call and confirm the travel and lodging plans.
- Find out if you need to provide any audio/visual equipment and order it from your school early.
- Arrive early to meet the speaker before the event and ensure the room is set up correctly and that any A/V equipment there and working correctly.
- Try to anticipate and prepare for any other problems that might arise.
5. Pass around sign up sheets
Collect names, e-mails, and preferred phone numbers from everyone who attends the event. Unless they opt-out, add them to your chapter’s email list. Announce the time, day and location of your chapter’s meetings before and after the event. Have a table with SSDP literature, materials, and resources out during the event. Stick around afterward to spend time with attendees and talk about your chapter’s important work and invite them to get involved.
Be sure to thank the speaker, as well as everyone who attended the event. Add them to the chapter email list and remind
them about upcoming meetings and events. Remember, events are a way to build the base of your chapter, to prepare you for future campaigns and actions to