Have an Event

Keys to a Successful Event

Tap into other groups

Encourage everyone—Scout troops, schools, athletic leagues, day camps, block and tenant associations—to participate in relevant events. Better yet, get them to co-sponsor the event. Your group will benefit from another set of connections, multiply your resources, and (ideally) lighten your workload.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew:

-The size and scale of events should be decided by the number of people willing to help organize them.
-Do something simple first, then build from there.
-Don’t be afraid to scale back if you find you’ve been too ambitious; better to have a few strong successes.

Plan ahead:

-Allow two weeks of planning for regular clean-ups, at least a month for small events, and several months for large events.
-Publicize, publicize, publicize.
-Notify your mailing list.
-Put fliers up everywhere: shop windows, bulletin boards, in churches, schools, apartment buildings.
-List your events in the community calendars of local papers, local access cable, and radio stations. Most important, get your friends to tell three friends who tell three friends (and so on). Nothing works like word of mouth and networking. SFPA’s conduits to like-minded people are open to you. By listing your event on our website, it will be included in our monthly e-newsletter to thousands of San Francisco residents who care about their parks and open spaces.

Expect the unexpected:
A first-time event will take twice as much effort to plan as you think it’s going to, and will go over budget by about 20%. There will be bureaucratic hurdles you never expected, egos that need to be soothed, last-minute emergencies, and unseasonable rain. Don’t worry. Be happy. The sun will come out tomorrow.

Delegate responsibilities and develop expertise:
Have one person in your group deal with publicity, a second with food, and a third with activities. Having one person consistently responsible for something lets him or her build specific skills and useful relationships.

Say thank you:
People will be happy to help you next time if you sincerely, publicly, and frequently thank them this time. When in doubt give people more credit than they deserve. Written thank you notes make a special impression to volunteers.

Build on your successes:
Repeat annual signature events. It’s easier the next time; people know to expect it; and you begin to build traditions that lead to larger participation each year.

Publicize Your Event

1. Flyers
After word-of-mouth, one of the most effective ways to publicize an event is to post flyers all over your neighborhood. You don’t need to be an artist or a desktop publishing expert to make great flyers.

What to do: Make flyers on a computer or by hand. SFPA does have a flier template that may be useful to you.
-Remember to include a date, time, and specific location
-Provide a contact number and/or email address so that people can call to get more information or volunteer to help out
-Make copies—try to use connections to get free copies from a school or church, your Supervisor, or your office
-How many copies you make depends on how many people you want at the event—50 is plenty for a small story-reading event in a playground, while you might need 500 for a large festival.
-Consider making larger (8.5x11 or larger) flyers for posting, smaller ones (5.5x8.5) to display in stacks.

Good places to distribute flyers:

-On park bulletin boards, in the rec center building, especially at the entrances and other high-traffic spots
-In the windows of local stores, especially those near the park (ask for permission)
-On community bulletin boards in supermarkets, churches and synagogues, building lobbies, gyms, the YMCA, and recreation centers
-In elementary schools, high schools, and colleges
-At bus stops, theaters, and other high-traffic spots

Ask to display a stack of flyers:

-Inside local stores & restaurants
-In the display areas of libraries, churches, and recreation centers
-At Community Board and Supervisor’s offices

2. Media Coverage
Local media—newspapers, local access cable, radio, etc.—can help your group in two ways:

-Free advertising By including your event in their calendar sections prior to the event, they can help you reach a wider audience.
-Good publicity: By writing longer articles about the event after the fact, they can help enhance the image of your group. SFPA regularly features Park Partner stories on our website, e-news, and other publications.
-Be sure to clip and save any press coverage. The articles make great back-up for requests for funds or other support.