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Planning Timeline

When planning for your event, knowing when to execute tasks is as important as understanding what needs to be done. Below is a timeframe for your event preparations, structured in a sequence that has been proven to succeed. It provides checkpoints for addressing critical issues as your event approaches.

In some cases you may need to start planning up to six months before your event. For example, permits for some parks and stadiums need to be obtained long in advance, but generally two months is sufficient.

Note: We strongly recommend that you also print out and complete the timeline as a checklist.


Two Months Before the Event

  • Establish the event plan using the Event Planning Guide as a guide. (PDF form version here)
  • If you don't have proper Principal/Director approval, get it now and find out from him/her if you need to inform the insurance company about the event.
  • Determine what your budget will be for the event and secure funding to cover all expenses.
  • Choose a date that works best for your participants.
  • Scout a location for the event that meets your space, accessibility, and safety needs.
  • Determine if you will need to provide transportation for participants and if so, reserve buses in advance.
  • Secure any necessary permits or reservations for the event space from the organization managing the location (don't assume you can just show up and use it).
  • Order/solicit supplies (a supplies list is included with our event guides).

One Month Before the Event

  • Recruit staff or volunteers (a staffing list is included with our event guides), including a nurse/EMT if necessary (refer to your school’s/district’s requirements and emergency protocols). If volunteers will be working directly with children consider running a background check with a company such as:
  • The National Center for Safety Initiatives
  • Publicize the event and build excitement among the invited participants and spectators with flyers, announcements, your website and/or social media. (See a sample flyer here.) Include registration and transportation information if necessary. For additional information refer to our guidelines for event registration.
  • Optional: Send out press releases to local media (See our sample here). This can help your school get good press and even funding!

Two Weeks Before the Event

  • Finalize staffing status.
  • Confirm all necessary permits or reservations are in place and that the space is event ready (no large equipment is in the way, etc).
  • Continue to publicize the event, including registration and transportation information if necessary, and build excitement among the invited participants and spectators.
  • Check on supplies status.

One Week Before the Event

  • Document the logistical details for the event day:
  • Create a map and timeline for the day.
  • (See this sample event map)
  • Delineate event staffing assignment.
  • (Refer to the Events to Run events for guidance on staffing)
  • Outline important rules, procedures, and information for coaches and participants.
  • Write a brief instructional guide for staff including emergency protocol.
  • E-mail all the event information from above to staff/volunteers. Be sure to include the date and event start and end times, directions to the location and a way to contact you on the day.
  • Buy last-minute supplies you did not yet procure including food and water as necessary.
  • Continue to publicize the event and build excitement among the invited participants and spectators.
  • Follow up on registration and transportation as necessary.
  • Optional: Send a media alert to local press. See a sample here.

Day of Event

  • Have staff arrive early to set up (setup time will vary by event) and do a safety check of the grounds (for broken glass, debris, etc).
  • Hold a brief staff and volunteer meeting to go over assignments, procedures and important information.
  • Begin registration/check-in if applicable. Our Registration Guide will give you ideas on how to manage this.
  • Welcome participants and have a great event!
  • Clean up the area.
  • Thank staff and go relax.