Program Planning

There are four steps to effective programming:

Step One: Contemplation

  • Assess the needs and interests of your CIO and the general UVA population.
  • Develop a purpose and set goals for the program.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a program. Remember, at this point, every idea is a good idea!

Step Two: Preparation

  • Research—look into costs, space availability, projected attendance and funding sources
  • Create a timeline—working backwards from the date of the event is helpful
  • Create a tentative “Day-Of” Program Schedule—this will be revised throughout the planning process
  • Remember: the bigger the program, the more organization is needed!

Step Three: Execution

  • Adhere to the Program Schedule
  • Be flexible and deal with unforeseen problems, like inclement weather, fluidly.
  • Every person on the program/event team should have a copy of the program schedule and emergency contact information

Step Four: Evaluation

  • Assess the success/failure of the program and identify areas of improvement
  • Remember to send thank you cards
  • Consider compiling a program binder/notebook for future references

Programming Resources/Potential Co-Sponsors:

  • University Programs Council (UPC)
  • Cultural Programming Board (CPB)

Space Reservations:

  • Event Planning Office—special spaces around grounds (The Lawn, etc.)
  •—common areas around grounds (classrooms, etc)
  • Student Activities Center—meeting rooms and equipment

The Do’s & Don’ts of Event Planning at UVa (or anywhere!)



  • Make sure to have a space reserved. There is nothing worse than planning an event and then scrambling to find a space that works well for that event. Use the SOURCE ( to request your space.
  • Program—describe your event. What are your guest coming to the event to see/do?
  • Number of people—how many people do you expect? Do you have ushers to help with crowd control?
  • Advertising for the event—are you sending invitations? Are you using Facebook? Twitter? Flyers? Info tables? (if so, make sure you reserve the space too)
  • Food—will there be food and have you read the UVa food policy?
  • Tables and Chairs? What set up do you want? The Event Planning Office has lots of diagrams to choose from.
  • A/V Equipment—What will you need? Microphones? PowerPoint? Computer— MAC or PC?


  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Most invitations go out to an event 4-6 weeks before the event. Students have the habit of planning 2 weeks out.
  • Don’t assume you have the money to cover the costs. Have a good budget.
  • Don’t wait until the day of the event to get all the setups done. If you can do anything before the day of the event, do it.



  • Manage the crowd—designate someone or several people to walk through the event and to observe. There should be responsible people watching every move.
  • Have all contact info of all vendors with you—what if the caterer is late? What if the tables don’t show up?
  • Clean up—make sure space is how you found it. Wait until all vendors leave. You are responsible for space if vendors leave a mess.
  • There will always be something that does not go the way you planned it to go. Be prepared for this. It could be major, it could be minor. Always stay calm and be ready to problem solve.


  • Don’t be just one of the guests. Manage your event.
  • Don’t have an attitude with your vendors or the people helping you throw this party/event. Telling someone to do something is much harsher than asking someone to help you do something.
  • Don’t keep your event a secret. If you are bringing in a well known speaker who  might draw a large and potentially angry crowd, tell someone.



  • Write a critique! The few days after the event are when you have everything in your brain. Write a list of what went really well, and what went really wrong.
  • Thank your vendors. A thank you goes a long way.
  • Thank your event planning team for their hard work. Bake cookies for them.
  • Start planning for your next event with the knowledge you’ve gained.


  • Don’t forget to pass the critique on to the group president. Your events will never get better unless you keep the history of your past events!
  • Don’t forget to pay your bills. This could impact your credit and your CIO status.


  • Be a team player. Some people will want different things than you—pick your battles wisely. Some things will be deal breakers, some things you should just let slide.
  • Don’t give orders—ask for help.
  • If you have questions—ask the Event Planning Office. There are a lot of UVa policies and we don’t expect student organizations to know all of them by heart.
  • Stay calm under pressure. Freaking out helps no one.

The SOURCE Handbook

How Do I…

Find a room that suits my needs?

Contact a Scheduler?

Source Account Resources

Making a request

Find an Event