The Complete Event Planning Guide

The Event Checklist Used By Top Event Planners


This Complete Event Planning Guide has two sections:
  1. How to Plan an Event
  2. The Event Checklist Used By Top Event Planners (you are here)

Event Planning Checklist Guide

The following is a generic Event Checklist that will help you get started in identifying all of the details you’ll need to consider as well as an indication of the timelines involved with your event planning process.

Please note that since association and non-profit events can range from a small workshop through to a gala fundraising event, we were not able to drill down to the level of detail you may need to consider when planning your specific event.  But, we hope this checklist gets you started with your event planning.

How to Event Planning Checklist Guide

High Level Planning: 4-6 Months Ahead of Event *

  • Establish event goals and objectives
  • Select date
  • Identify venue and negotiate details
  • Develop Event Master Plan
  • Get cost estimates (e.g., room rental, food & beverages, equipment, speaker fees, travel, etc.) and create a budget
  • Recruit event committee,  event manager or chair and establish sub-committee chairs
  • Create and launch publicity plan & brand your event (ensure staff and/or volunteers are identified to manage specific tasks – e.g., media relations, VIP coordination, printed material design & printing coordination, signage, online /social media, etc.)
  • Identify and confirm speakers/presenters/entertainers
  • Identify and contact sponsors/partners
  • Determine if you need event registration software to make the process easier

*start your planning as early as possible.

3-4 Months Ahead of Event

  • Speaker/presenter/entertainer liaison: e.g.:
    • finalize presentation/speech topics
    • get bio information, photo
    • travel & accommodation arrangements
    • have contracts signed if appropriate, etc.
  • Financial/Administration: for example, determine:
    • Registration fees
    • Set up/enable online registration
    • Sponsor levels/amounts
    • Identify items to be underwritten and accounting tracking details
  • Venue/logistics planning, e.g.:
    • Investigate need for any special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
    • Determine and arrange all details re menu, A/V equipment, registration set-up, parking, signage, etc.
    • Review security needs/plan for the event with venue manager
  • Publicity:  Follow publicity plan, e.g.,
    • Develop draft program
    • Create draft event script (e.g., MC, speaker introductions, thanks, closing, etc.)
    • Develop publicity pieces -- e.g., newsletter articles and/or ads, radio spots, print blog posts articles for submission to other publications and/or ads, etc.
    • Request logos from corporate sponsors for online and printed materials
    • Develop and produce invitations, programs, posters, tickets, etc.
    • Develop media list & prepare News Release, Media Advisory, Backgrounder and all media kit materials (e.g., speaker info, photos, etc.)
    • Create event page on your website
    • Enable/create email event notifications
    • Create a Facebook event page
    • Develop a promo video and post on YouTube and your Facebook page
    • Register your event on a variety of online event calendars
    • Create some buzz on your blog or member forums
    • Determine VIPs and create invitation & tracking document (e.g., spreadsheet)
Want a printable copy of this checklist? Download it here.

Event Checklist


2 months prior to event

  • Send reminders to contact list re registration/participation
  • Presenters/Speakers: e.g.:
    • Confirm travel/accommodation details
    • Request copy of speeches and/or presentations
  • Sponsorship: Follow up to confirm sponsorships and underwriting
  • Publicity:
    • Release press announcements about keynote speakers, celebrities, VIPs attending, honourees, etc.
    • Post your initial event news release on your website and circulate to all partners, affiliated organizations, etc.

1 week ahead

  • Have all committee chairs meet and confirm all details against Master Plan – and ensure back-up plans are developed for any situation (e.g., back-up volunteers as VIP greeters, additional volunteers for registration or set-up, etc.)
  • Finalize event script
  • Brief any/all hosts, greeters, volunteers about their event duties and timelines
  • Final seating plan, place cards, etc.
  • Provide final registration numbers to caterer
  • Make print and online copies of any speeches, videos, presentations, etc.
  • Final registration check, name badges & registration list
  • Determine photo op and interview opportunities with any presenters, VIPs etc. and confirm details with interviewee and media

Attachments for events banner


1 day ahead

  • Confirm media attending
  • Ensure all signage is in place
  • Ensure registration and media tables are prepared and stocked with necessary items (e.g., blank name badges, paper, pens, tape, stapler, etc.)
  • Ensure all promo items, gifts, plaques, trophies, etc. are on-site

Event day

  • Ensure you have copies of all instructions, directions, phone numbers, keys, extra parking permits for VIP guests, seating charts and guest lists with you
  • Check-in with each Committee Chair to ensure their team is on track

Immediately following event

While you need to conduct a thorough evaluation and update your budget, there are post-event publicity, fundraising and member development opportunities that you can take advantage of with just a little pre-event planning. Here are some of the activities you might consider once the event is over:

  • Financial status: gather all receipts, documentation, final registration data, etc. and update budget
  • Send thank-you’s and acknowledgement letters to:
    • Sponsors
    • Volunteers
    • Speakers/presenters
    • Donors
    • the Media

In your thank-you notes, be sure to remind the recipients of the event’s success – and how they contributed (e.g., dollars raised, awareness - number of participants, etc.).

  • Post-event publicity – see publicity section that follows
  • Conduct a Post-Event Survey – to learn what people enjoyed about your event, and where you have room to improve. 
  • Follow-up Communication with Event Participants
  • Reach out to event participants – thank them for participating and promote your ongoing programs and how they can support you throughout the year by joining, volunteering or making a sustaining donation.  
  • Conduct a thorough evaluation

We hope you found this checklist helpful in getting started with event planning. Use this as a starting point to identify or assign activities to various volunteers or staff; or print this off so you can literally check-off items as they are assigned or accomplished.

How to Event Planning Checklist Guide


This Software Makes Running (and Filling) Events a Snap!

If you're sick of processing event registrations and payments by hand, there's a software that can completely automate the process for you online. It's called Membership Management Software and here's what it can do:

  • Allow easy creation of online registration forms
  • Put a calendar of events on your website
  • Automatically update your website with upcoming events
  • Deposit event payments directly into your account
  • Send automatic invoices and event reminders
  • Dump event attendee data directly into your contact database
  • and more

Not only does Membership Management Software take care of all event logistics, it also makes running any sort of membership organization easier, because it automates a number of other administrative tasks around managing your contacts, website, finances, and email communication.

If you'd like to see if this kind of software is right for your organization, try Wild Apricot, the #1 Membership Management Software on the market.  The best part is that Wild Apricot is free to try for 30 days. Click here to start your free trial now.

Wild Apricot ReviewAs a small non-profit, this software has made organizing and communicating with our membership SO much easier. Membership is now automatic and registering for our events is easy for our guests and much less work for us.

-DeeDee LaBaron, Oregon Employment and Training Association


Event Checklist

Event Checklist


Event Planning Checklist Additional Resources:

Creative Commons Licence

Wild Apricot Event Planning Guide by Wild Apricot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

Please include a link to if you copy, distribute or re-transmit any of the documents that make up this guide. 
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