Your Student Organization Programming Questions, Answered
One of the most exciting parts of being in an AAUW student organization is creating events on your campus that make a difference for women and girls. But picking and planning an event can be daunting. Luckily, we have answers (and plenty of supplementary materials) for all of your on-campus needs. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions about campus programming for AAUW student organizations.
What are some of the issues AAUW tackles?
AAUW’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Here are some current issues you might consider working on as part of that mission:
How do I pick the right issue for my campus and community?
When deciding what issues to tackle with your student organization, always ask the group:
- What issues best relate to our campus?
- What issues are we most interested in addressing?
- How would our campus react to this programming?
- What are the benefits of hosting this program on campus? What may be some of the consequences?
- What resources do we have to tackle this issue?
- Are there related programs already taking place on campus?
- Which other organizations can I partner with?
Think about the needs and resources of your campus. For instance, if your institution has a large population of veteran women, you might pick a program that educates other students on the unique challenges and experiences of veteran women. If your campus is a commuter campus, perhaps your organization would host a work-life balance workshop to help students handle working while attending school.
How do I start planning an event?
Always start with your goals for the event. Your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-targeted).
- Specific: Set goals in terms of how many people you want and expect to attend. How many supporters (organizations, co-sponsors) will you have? Be specific about the timing of the event; break it down minute by minute. Lastly, set goals for the number and types of achievements you want to take away from your event.
- Measurable: List the goals of your program and revisit them after your event. Did you meet your requirements? Did your program add value to the work of your organization? Measurable goals are a clear-cut way to demonstrate the success of the event to your organization and outside partners.
- Attainable: Make sure your goals can be achieved in the span of time you have to plan the event.
- Realistic: Be realistic about your time, workload, and the atmosphere on campus and within your coalition of co-sponsors. Make sure to delegate work when appropriate.
- Time-targeted: Your event should have a clear start time (including preparation) and end time.
Ask your group a few questions to focus your mission, goals, and takeaways from your event.
- Who is our target population?
- What do we want to accomplish with this event?
- What will be the takeaways from our event?
- How many attendees do we expect?
- Do we hope to raise awareness and/or provide a discourse around a specific issue?
- Are we trying to influence policy makers in our community?
Who should I contact on campus about planning an event?
When should I host my event?
Who should we bring on campus as a guest speaker?
How do I get publicity for my event?
Your outreach efforts will determine the scope of the event, so devoting time and energy to outreach is essential.
- Start early. Getting the word out early about your event will allow others to save the date. College students are busy; notify them early to ensure high attendance. Starting early will also help you reserve an ideal venue. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your room. Meet with your student organization adviser to brainstorm methods for promoting your event.
- Reach out to student and community organizations. Notify other organizations, provide them with paper and digital flyers for your event, attend their meetings to discuss your event, and make it applicable to their mission.
- Reach out to faculty and administration. Reaching out to the student activities office could land your event on listservs and the larger university events calendar. You can also research which professors are teaching a course that is applicable to your event, then ask them to promote your event in their class.
- Use social media. Whether you make an official Facebook event or simply post on your personal Twitter or Instagram account, social media is a powerful way to promote your event to a college audience. Make sure you consider your audience when you choose your social platform (i.e., do students at your college prefer Facebook event invites?) Promote the event more than once, but without annoying your followers.
- Do on-the-ground legwork. Old-school communication can go a long way in promoting your event. Hang up flyers. Consider tabling to give people an opportunity to ask face-to-face questions. Ask a professor if you can make a class announcement.
- Contact the media. Send copies of your flyers to your school newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV stations, as well as to local and regional publications.
Does AAUW have marketing materials that can help me?
How can I make my events more inclusive?
Who can I contact at AAUW for more information on programming?
Visions for success vary from program to program, and different branches have different programming needs. Regardless of your specific vision, these six steps can help ensure that your program is successful.
Use these best practices to consistently communicate your message about AAUW by developing a marketing plan and honing your brand.
Check out this tool kit for resources and materials to improve your AAUW student organization’s recruitment, retention, and engagement.