Information for Cornell Club event organizers

If you are organizing a Cornell Club event, advance preparation is key. You’ll want to make sure you have a few things on hand at the event itself. There is also some event follow up to complete.

What follows is our Club guide for event organizers

Information to find out from the venue

  1. Is a contract required?
  2. Is proof of insurance required? Our Club is covered by a policy created by the University. For an event to be covered, we must complete the Event Detail Form for every event, every time. If the University does not have this information on file in advance and something unfortunate happens at our event, the Club may not be covered.
  3. Identify fixed costs vs. per-head costs. Necessary to determine total cost of event so we may adequately and reasonably price the event.
  4. Calculate costs v. revenue. Here’s a spreadsheet you can use.
  5. What is the deadline for providing a head count? Necessary for registration cut off.
  6. What are the payment conditions? Check or credit card? Pay in advance? At the door? Most venues will want payment no later than at, or immediately at the end of, an event.

Will there be sponsors?

Event sponsorship is a  proven way to defray the cost of an event. Two critical steps. First, plan well in advance. You should pitch sponsorship no later than 90 days out so that at 45 days out when the event should go live all sponsors are ready to go. Second, define what the benefits of sponsorship are, and whether there are different tiers. Usually, we have sought only Cornell alumni sponsors. Examples of sponsor benefits include:

  • One or more complimentary registrations
  • Info table at event
  • Ability to leave informational materials at event
  • Mention in a written event program (such as name of sponsor, logo of sponsor, contact info, blurb about sponsor)
  • Opportunity to speak at event
  • Special name tags at event
  • Promotion on Club website (such as name of sponsor, logo of sponsor, contact info, blurb about sponsor, link to sponsor)
  • Promotion in emails (such as name of sponsor, logo of sponsor, contact info, blurb about sponsor, link to sponsor)
  • Promotion on online event registration (such as name of sponsor, logo of sponsor, contact info, blurb about sponsor, link to sponsor)

Insurance required

Our Club is covered by a policy created by the University. For a specific event to be covered, however, we must complete the Event Detail Form for every event, every time. This is an essential task. If the University does not have this information on file in advance and something unfortunate happens at our event, the Club may not be covered.

When there is a speaker

  1. It is your obligation to maintain constant contact with the speaker. Keep them informed and reminded of the event.
  2. Identify the speaker’s topic and request a brief bio (or external link to more information) from them to include in marketing.
  3. Make sure we have everything on hand that they need when the date arrives, such as any AV equipment needs (and podium, microphone, screen, projector, etc.).
  4. If the speaker is doing a presentation, will they be bringing it on a flashdrive? Laptop?.
  5. How long will you ask them to speak and will there be Q&A?
  6. Confirm, confirm, confirm with them that they will show up at the event and how early you would like them to arrive to set-up and check any A/V. Here’s a sample itinerary you can complete and confirm and share with the speaker.
  7. Do we need to pay for the speaker’s travel and/or lodging? Make sure to set up well in advance. Request itemized receipts and be specific about how to exchange this information for reimbursement.
  8. We often give a token gift (value no more than about $25-40) to a speaker for taking the trouble to address our Club. Please note that Cornell professors and staff are not permitted to receive gifts directly from Cornell.

Promotion is critical

  1. If there is a speaker, share the event promotion with them before sending it out, as a courtesy and to confirm that you both have the same information and it’s accurate.
  2. Event promotion, unless for an impromptu event, should start, ideally, at least 45 days in advance. Late promotion virtually ensures lower-than-hoped-for attendance and frustration if someone is interested in an event and does not have enough notice to adjust their schedule. That means just about everything should be lined up before then.
  3. Get the event posted on Eventbrite, or whichever other online service, if any, is being used to register participants.
  4. Get the event posted on Facebook in the “Events” section of the Club’s Page. Also post regular reminders to get people out to the event.
  5. Get the event posted on the Club’s website Calendar.
  6. Make sure email reminders start to go out well in advance of the event.

During the event

  1. Identify who will be acting as emcee, introducing speaker, closing event, etc.

Items to have on hand at event

  1. Event schedule (indicating who is speaking or doing what and when) and/or program
  2. Camera to take pictures or videos of event to post on website
  3. Gift for speaker (if necessary)
  4. List of registrants/attendees (can usually be obtained easily if online registration used, such as through Eventbrite)
  5. Name badges of some sort.
    1. Name badges, printed
    2. Name badges, blank (easiest)
    3. Name badges, fasteners
    4. Marker for making new name badges
  6. Flyer(s) for upcoming events
  7. Envelope to collect any checks for registration, membership, etc.
  8. Pad of paper for taking notes, recording additional registrants, attendees, etc.
  9. Pens and/or pencils
  10. Cornell swag provided by university
  11. Cornell song book, esp. Alma mater (Far Above Cayuga’s Waters) and fight song (Give My Regards to Davy)
  12. Payment for venue.

Also for Zinck’s

  1. Cornell Trivia Bowl
  2. Cornell Jeopardy

Post event follow up

  1. Email online survey to attendees.
  2. Written thank you to speaker (as appropriate; usually appropriate). (If event is cancelled for some reason, thank yous and acknowledgments to the speaker, the venue and/or others may be appropriate.)
  3. Collect all money, detail money collected (who it was collected from, purpose of money [e.g., event registration or membership]), provide to Treasurer or President, along with any receipts.
  4. Be careful with cash! Checks are always preferred over cash from participants.
  5. Keep all receipts. If you have out of pocket expenses, you will not be reimbursed by the Club without a paper receipt.
  6. Calculate revenue v. costs. Did we at least break even? Here’s a spreadsheet to help.
  7. Summarize event on our survey form.
  8. Report back to Alumni Affairs contact in Ithaca.

And here is a handy Club Leader Tookit from the Alumni office.