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How to Plan Events

Working on a big activity can be one of the best ways to strengthen, focus, and energize IWW branch or group. Events are an excellent opportunity to educate the public, recruit new members, generate organizing opportunities, and, of course, to have fun while organizing workers. So don't just sit there... GET ACTIVE!

There are many different types of events, but most events should have three important components: producing action, raising awareness, and making contacts with potential new members. Here you will find some basic tips for organizing special events and a list of event ideas. Obviously, this list is far from exhaustive... these suggestions are meant as a guide to set your event-planning gears in motion. Remember, the most important ingredient for a successful event is CREATIVITY!

This will be most useful to existing union branches and local groups, but you can use portions of this guide to organize events related to organizing a union at your workplace.

Planning a Special Event - The Basic Steps

  1. Set goals for your group. Make them concrete and identify one or two priorities. What exactly do you want to accomplish? ex. recruit 5 new members, target a specific shop or industry for organizing.
  2. Do a group inventory. This means listing the skills, contacts, and experience of each group member as well as material resources such as money and access to facilities or goods and services.
    • Who do you know? (an artist, the owner of a printing shop, the guitarist of a local band, the editor of the local alternative newspaper, a local theater company...)
    • What do you like to do? (theater, music, sports, art, baking...)
    • What material resources do you have? (10 active group members, a computer with desktop publishing software, transportation, information about a specific industry)
    • What other groups do your members belong to? (Other unions, labor advocacy groups, Alliance for Democracy, Jobs with Justice, etc)
  3. Hold a brainstorming session. How can you achieve your goals given your resources?
  4. The rules of brainstorming are: accept every idea, encourage people to build on ideas after they have been suggested, get everyone to participate, don't allow any evaluation (criticisms, objections, groans, snickers, statements of "we've already tried that") until the brainstorming session is over. Write all the ideas on a chalkboard or flip chart. Set a time limit and stop.

  5. Narrow down to 2 or 3 ideas and evaluate.
    • How would this event help you achieve your goals?
    • Who is the audience for this event?
    • Why do you think they will attend?
    • How will you publicize the event to reach that audience?
    • What are the up-front costs?
  6. Pick the project that reaches group consensus.
  7. Develop an action plan. Ask yourselves:
    • How much time do you need to plan the event? (be sure to allow plenty of time... underestimating the work and time involved in a project can lead to volunteer burn-out)
    • When is the best time to hold it? Will the proposed date conflict with any people's work schedules, legal holidays, or other large events?
    • Where is the best place to hold it? Is this the cheapest option? If not, is it worth the extra cost? Do you need an alternate location in case of rain?
    • How can you keep your costs down?
    • How will you divide up the work? Make sure that every group member has something to do-- this helps prevent burn out and makes everyone in the group feel important and included.
  8. Start working! Be sure to make the work fun. Have a poster-making party, order pizza during your meetings, and don't forget to celebrate your group's successes!
  9. Evaluate. This is one of the most important steps of the process. These are important questions to ask:
    • Did you accomplish your goals?
    • What was most successful about your event?
    • What could you do better next time?
    • Is it worth doing again?

If your event is a success, evaluation is easy. You just fine-tune for next time. But if your project was a failure:

  • Identify what went wrong.
  • Don't blame each other or let the group degenerate into quarreling.
  • Don't get discouraged from trying other events in the future.

Some Important Points to Remember

  • Plan ahead, scheduling more preparation time than you think you need.
  • Be realistic. When in doubt, plan a smaller event rather than hoping for extra volunteers, resources, or time that may not materialize. Your group can build on modest successes, but not on giant flops.
  • Distribute the work clearly and fairly.
  • Keep overhead costs as low as possible.
  • Thank everyone who helps out or donates goods or services.
  • Evaluate the event before you plan another one.

Further Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Have literature, a sign up sheet, and information at all events
  • Take pictures, write an article and submit it to the Industrial Worker, your local IWW paper, or your local social media networks.
  • Have information about your regular meetings and supplies for signing people up.
  • Try setting up joint events with other groups and/or unions working on similar issues and events in your area.
  • Let folks know about your next event.
  • Call your local IWW branch or GHQ if you require any assistance.

Much of the information is taken from the Amnesty International National Student Program Guide and adapted for IWW use.