Have you ever been in the situation where the funding you requested to host an event comes in at the final hour? Now what? How do you execute the planning of an event without sufficient advance notice?

You know that your association would benefit significantly by creating an opportunity for professionals in your industry to come together to discuss issues and the future of your industry. You know that this needs to happen, but you have to find a budget for this and even request funding. What should you do after you put in this funding request to get the ball rolling on your event, IF it gets approved?

Venue Selection and Reservation

It is important to find the appropriate venue for your event and hold the space. Most often you aren’t required to provide a deposit by a venue if your date is available and not in demand by another organization. Clear communication with the venue that your event is contingent on funding is always helpful.

Program Development

You can’t invite speakers to an unofficial event, but you can begin to have conversations with potential speakers, outlining your goals for the event, the audience, and why they would be an appropriate fit. Asking speakers to tentatively hold the date will help with finalizing the program when you do get the go ahead.

Develop your program and timing for the event as even if this event does not get approved this year, it may another year.

Assemble A Database of Potential Attendees

Research which organizations should be sending representatives. Start causally speaking to contacts and colleagues about the potential event, marketing it to them as an event not to be missed. Use language like “hold the date” or “will be officially announced soon”.

Outsource Suppliers

Begin to outsource delegate gifts, printers, interpreters etc. as knowing your options in advance will make the procurement process much easier when the approval does come in. As well if you have suppliers lined up when your approval finally arrives, it helps that they have head advance notice of potentially rushed work.

The Funding Has Been Approved! Now what?

  • Fantastic! You were approved, your event is happening…but you have two months to plan the entire thing. How can you make this happen? Working with your event planner, create a realistic timeline starting with what needs to be done first? Visit our past blog on timeline creation. In a nutshell you will need to: Confirm your venue reservation
  • Secure your suppliers and give them immediate advance notice
    • AV
    • Delegate gifts
    • Interpreters
    • Graphic designers
    • Printers
    • Transportation
    • Catering (if separate from the venue)
    • Insurance providers
  • Finalize your program
  • Book your speakers
  • Create a registration system (Visit this blog from June 2015 on how to create an effective conference registration site)
  • Advertise the program
  • Sell sponsorships and attendee packages for the event

Keep updating your critical path ensuring that you are on time and adhering to your realistic deadlines such as printing, hotel room booking, and registration deadlines. Continue to market the event to potential delegates. Now it’s time for execution. No one but you has to know that this event was planned in such a short time span. With your careful planning – both prior to receiving funding and after – you were able to present the event.

Congratulations. Anything can be done if you focus, prepare and set and adhere to realistic deadlines.