Stage 3 of No-nonsense Guide to planning your event or activity

Build out your plan.
In Step 2 we focused on defining the main areas of your event or activity, you’re off to a roaring start because defining the main areas is really your foundation of your event or activity. Next, you can begin to build out your plan, outlining all the key or important details, from the number of parent volunteers you’ll need to when things need to be completed by. This post will help you build out your plan to ensure your event or activity goes smoothly and successfully.

Focus Areas

  • Define your main subject areas.
  • Build out the volunteer task list.
  • Define a detailed timeline containing the volunteer task list, i.e. define when volunteer tasks needs to be done.
  • Create the Supplies list.


  • Volunteer task spreadsheet.
  • Event/Activity Planning Timeline.
  • Supply spreadsheet.

Building the Volunteer Tasks list
The foundation of your plan is all the volunteer tasks that need to be done to ensure your event/activity is a success. A good way to start is to think of what you want to accomplish. This will allow you to identify what tasks are needed. Start with a spreadsheet, either Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets work fine.
On the farthest left hand column, enter the essential components that you identified in the Stage 2; create a row at the top for your header title. Call this column the ‘Subject Area’. The next column to the right, you can enter the volunteer tasks you think are needed for each of the components; call this your ‘Volunteer Task’ column.

In the next column to the right of the volunteer task, enter the # of volunteers you need for each task. If this is your first time to manage your even/activity, it may be difficult for you to determine how many people you’ll need. Here are a few considerations:

  • How long will the task take? either in terms of pure hours or in duration. Generally, the more hours needed, the more people you need.
  • People’s skills – do any of the volunteer tasks require any special skills?
  • Physical abilities needed for tasks – define if any of the tasks involve any heavy lifting.

At your early planning stage, it’s better to overcompensate for how many people you’ll need. If you think 4 volunteers is the right number, right down 5. It’s always better to have an extra person or two than to be short a person or two. Invariably, volunteer no-shows are part of any event or activity. People always have the best intentions, unfortunately however, when it comes down to showing up, there are always circumstances that people are not able to follow through. Having contingencies in place will go a long way to ensuring you’ll achieve success for your event/activity.
Next, it’s best to prioritize the tasks under each respective area, doing so will give you an idea of how and when you should begin recruiting your volunteers.

Across the top of your spreadsheet, going horizontally to the the right, you can now create your timeline. Depending on your event/activity, you can either break things down into week or month  time durations, with each column representing either one week or month. For each task, enter the date of the actual task, or the ‘Complete by’ date. You’ll need to consider those ‘dependent tasks’, tasks that are dependent on the completion of other tasks. Once you have done this for all your tasks, there’s one more thing you need before you can call it your ‘master plan’ – your Supplies spreadsheet.

What you need – Supplies
Ok, you’ve defined all the ‘To Do’ tasks, fantastic. The next thing is to define what you need to pull off your event/activity, your supplies, or the ‘To Bring’ tasks.
A good way to manage your supplies is to replicate your ‘To Do’ spreadsheet. Simply copy your To Do spreadsheet and paste into a new sheet; call this your ‘To Bring’ sheet.
In your To Bring sheet, edit the ‘Volunteer task’ column to ‘Supplies’. Under each Subject area, begin entering any supplies you need for each subject area.
Once you’ve completed your Supplies sheet, you now have your Master plan, or at least the first version of your plan. Now, you’re ready to work on recruiting the people you need… and that’s Stage 4!  Stay tuned.

Happy Volunteering!