I'm so excited to share with you all that the second annual #FreedomWalkBuffalo is set for April 5, 2014 in Buffalo, New York! Last year's walk was so empowering. It was uplifting to see all the 170 people who gathered to help raise awareness on human trafficking and who became a voice for the voiceless. In this post, I want to write a bit about the planning behind organizing an awareness walk on a college campus based on the past 4 years of event planning with college students, as a college student. I write this in hopes to provide you direction to host your own awareness walk/event!
This year, I'm once again working with the BASI Buffalo Team to organize another freedom walk. I'm consciously keeping my team in the loop of each planning stage so that when I leave Buffalo, and all of the upperclassmen graduate, the underclassmen can have the knowledge to continue holding Freedom Walk Buffalo. Sustainability and support are very important in any movement and organization. When organizing an event, I have found it crucial to have a mentor. This is especially true if it is your first time planning an event with over 50 people in attendance. Thankfully Randy, PR for Free-Them, has been kind enough to guide me when I has questions about planning our first walk, last year. It was their Freedom Walk that inspired me to create a Freedom Walk here in Buffalo!
When I first began planning for this year's walk, about three months ago, I created three committees, a planning committee(main) and two subcommittees(support). The reason for this, is to have a tight group of dedicated and reliable planners who can juggle school with planning a big walk. With this group it is important to keep an open dialogue to encourage creative ideas while recognizing the importance of delegation. Between academics, school clubs, social life and event planning, it is not possible to be in complete control of every aspect of the walk. When delegating tasks, be sure to write down tasks and distribute responsibilities evenly among all committee members. After you have distributed responsibilities, track them through a cloud document (Google Documents is free and can be accessed through a Gmail account). As I organize details of the walk, I work with the planning committee members and log all of the details of the walk and pre-walk marketing on a cloud document (Google Doc), which all of the committee members can access online, add to, and refer to. I also host weekly meetings so that the group can be sure to stay on the same wavelength. A challenge has been making sure that each of the committee members keeps the status of each of their responsibilities updated on the document, which goes back to making sure the people on the committee are responsible and have enough time to fully commit to planning the walk. If anything, this situation will just mean that you have to send out extra reminder texts to your committee, asking them to do their part and keep the document updated. Aside from that, the Google document has been very helpful and has increased efficiency of communication.
A part of our pre-walk marketing this year was a fundraiser, HumaniTEA, organized and executed by the subcommittee.
Led by blogger Eleni, the team organized a successful fundraiser. It was a tea party and raffle! Cookies and decorations were all donated. With the help of about ten people and university staff, the event was planned out in a bit over a month and hit it's fundraising goal of $250. We utilized Facebook and word of mouth to spread the word about the event. In regards to ensuring attendance, I have found that it is much more effective to have one-on-one interaction with people, so that they can understand why the event is important and feel motivated to attend. Funds raised will cover event reservation and speaker costs. The excess funds will go towards the United Hands of Hope House, our current spotlight organization.
A bit over a month before the walk, we created our online registration website, created a Facebook page, and have begun marketing on our social media platforms, using the same hash tag as last year, #FreedomWalkBuffalo. Also, because we are college students, we are planning on sending emails out through office newsletters and emailing lists. We are also attending local human trafficking abolition events to promote our walk, while receiving training (it is very important that any person on the committee is trained on what human trafficking is and is also aware of the sensitivity of the topic when educating a group of people). Three weeks before the walk we are also going to local businesses, colleges, and schools to distribute flyers. As the walk approaches, the university clubs we are partnering with will hang a banner in the student union and will be handing out flyers to students until the day before the walk.
Our number one goal of the walk is to raise awareness, and our number two goal is to raise funds to help front-line organizations. We do this to encourage attendance. Okiedokie. That covers my thoughts on planning. Again, this is all from my personal expereince of event planning. If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them below, I would love to read them. :)
I hope that this will help you in event planning for your future awareness event!
I hope to see you at #FreedomWalkBuffalo!
Click the image to be directed to registration!