Stage 2 of No-nonsense Guide to planning your event or activity

Stage 2 – Define the Scope of Your School Event or Activity

Ok, in your efforts to engage school staff and parent association stakeholders you’ve been able to define their views and priorities. In Stage 2, you can begin defining the extent of your school event or activity needing volunteers.

First, start with the same event or activity that was held last year. Find as much information about last year’s event/activity as you can. You may want to speak with the person who managed last year’s event/activity. Here are a list of questions you may want to ask:

  • What were the pieces or components of what they did?
  • Did the person have a documented plan? If yes, can you have it? Having that plan will provide you with an instant foundation to define what you will do for your event or activity.
  • What were the main components of the event/activity.
  • Was a communication plan for the event/activity one of the components? If no, then you’ll need to add that to your own plan.
  • What were the main areas/needs for volunteer?
  • Did any of the volunteer tasks need any special skills?

After learning about last year’s event/activity, you can begin defining the scope of your plan, think about what you think are the essential components; learn from what was done last year, add anything you think they missed, and eliminate what you think you can do without.

Here are some starting points as essential components:

  • Food, if applicable. How much will you based on estimated attendance levels? Again, last year’s event/activity will help here.
  • Location, again, if applicable. Related to location might be something like parking for the attendees of your event/activity.
  • People/parent volunteers
  • Communication/promotion 
  • Permissions (particularly if your event/activity requires transporting people/children from one place to another).
  • Licenses – for things like the selling of food or if you are holding a Bingo event or a raffle to raise money.
  • Money administration if you’re holding a large fundraiser.
  • Security – particularly if your event/activity is big enough to have a Money administration team.
  • Budget – what initial funds will you need for any purchase of things like supplies, etc.

After you’ve defined the essential areas, start to break them down into small parts, then create a list using Microsoft Excel. For example:


  • Get a webpage on the school website, or use an online tool to centralize communication, volunteer recruiting and coordinating people.
  • Communication plan – what information will you need to start sending out? For example, to recruit volunteers, what does your timeline look like? e.g. how far in advance of your event/activity date will you need to start sending things out?
  • People – what skills will you need to help you with communication?

As you break down the Communication component, do the same with all the other components. Put everything into the Excel spreadsheet. You’ll quickly realize you now have the beginnings of your Master plan.

One important consideration – before you start on Stage 3, it’s a good idea to discuss your Master plan with your school staff and parent association stakeholders, get their feedback to make sure you are aligned with the priorities.

In our next post, Stage 3 – Outline Key Needs of Your Event or Activity…

Happy Volunteering!


No-nonsense Guide to planning your event or school activity.

The upcoming series of blog posts will provide a comprehensive guide to help school volunteer leaders learn how to build and execute highly organized school events and activities that provide significant impact.

We’ve organized the blog posts into “actionable” stages, containing information that you will be able to use immediately in your school volunteer program. The goal of the upcoming blog posts is to provide a framework for you to be able to use with every school event and activity in which you need volunteers.

We’ve organized the upcoming blog posts into 8 stages:

Stage 1 – Focus On Your School Community

Stage 2 – Define the Scope of Your School Event or Activity

Stage 3 – Outline Key Needs of Your Event or Activity

Stage 4 – Map Out Your Event or Activity

Stage 5 – Recruiting Your People, Securing Resources

Stage 6 – Finalize Your Plan

Stage 7 – Executing Your Plan

Stage 8 – Close Out Your Plan

The first stage focuses on working with your school staff and parent association to define their specific needs for the event or activity you are working on. The second stage will be on defining the key pieces of your event or activity. The third stage is on identifying the key needs to make your event or activity a success. The fourth stage is about building out a plan. The fifth stage is on securing the people and resources you need. The sixth stage is focused on getting your plan ready. The seventh stage is about making it all happen and staying on top of things. The last stage is about wrapping things up. So, let’s get started with Stage 1…

Stage 1 – Focus On Your School Community

Depending on whether your event or activity is school-wide or perhaps involves only a segment of the school, one of, if not the most important thing to do is to engage the leaders of the intended group. If your event or activity is school-wide, then you should consider engaging the Principal or Parent Association president or vice presidents. Find out what they perceive as as the key needs and goals. If your event or activity involves a small segment of the school, perhaps a class or grade, then perhaps engage the teachers.

By engaging the key stakeholders early, you will help build awareness for your event or activity and help to make sure you get the buy-in and support of your efforts.

There are a number of ways to gather the views of stakeholders, it’s best to select a method that’s based on whether your event or activity is school-wide or for a small segment of the school. For the latter, you may want to consider something that’s not going to take a lot of time, for example, pin-pointing who you need to talk to and then having a short 10-minute conversation with them. For a school-wide event or activity, you want to consider a feedback mechanism such as creating a short 5-8-question online survey with a tool like SurveyMonkey. This takes less an hour to put together, it’s a very time-efficient way to gather feedback from a bigger group of people. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What problems have you seen in past events and activities (such as the one you’re leading)?
  • What are the most important needs for the school of this event or activity?
  • What would you view as elements that would make you think the event or activity is a success?
  • What would suggest would be the one thing we change from last year’s event or activity?

After you’ve gathered your initial feedback from stakeholders, gather the group of people that’s going to help you execute your event or activity; share your findings and get consensus on your goals for your event or activity.

After you’ve gathered the feedback from stakeholders and have shared with your team, you’re now ready for the next stage.

Come back in the next few days for Stage 2…

Happy Volunteering!