Plenty of Firsts
While I was excited and ready to host the most successful event in Choose A Challenge history (at least that's how I saw it going down in my head) the whole process required me to accomplish several things I had little experience doing. The most prevalent of these concerns, was communicating with my school's administration in an attempt to book a room on campus by my mid-to-late September meeting date. In my endeavors to work with my university, a place that had abundant resources that were frustratingly hard to access, I learned what I had first thought was going to be a simple process was actually an arduous slog. With that in mind, lets get into my first tip.
Communicate with your school early and Often
I will say this time and time again, but its true; each campus and university is truly a different animal when it comes to what they will allow you to do, how much help they will give you to do it, or if they will recognize your existence at all. Take my school, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, for example. Up until my Senior year I had never really experienced any difficulties accessing the resources that I required at any given time. However, when I began contacting university officials I realized that my administration was much less willing or capable of helping me book a room.
After several inquiries over email to administrators of varying degrees of importance, some of which would provide promise and then go cold, I decided that the best thing to do was head out to confront the relevant departments in person. Over the course of several days and attempts I started at my university's registrar office, would get recommended to another office, head to that office and get referred to another, continuing to third, fourth, and fifth office, all explaining that my next stop would be my desired destination; I continued this carousel until I would eventually get sent to the place I started at. Clearly this was not the strategy to use at my school.
To be fair, many of these offices were willing to help me if I were a club affiliate but as I was not I was left out to dry. In the end my saving grace was a friend who suggested the local Newman Center church, a building technically on campus but not run by the university, which was happy to accommodate my meeting on the date that I required. So for advice on this front, I sincerely suggest you try any and all channels you have in looking for a place to book a room for your eventual meeting. Maybe your university will be more helpful than mine was, maybe it'll be even more difficult and an outright obstacle, but no matter the case it will benefit you greatly to look early and keep tabs on any and all possibilities there are.
If you are really struggling to book a room, reach out to your account manager, we will work together and find a way to book a room directly with the school or through any other means necessary.
Take Real advantage of those Flyers and Posters
Its easy to just pass around flyers on tables in random buildings on campus or put up your posters on miscellaneous walls that look like good spots, but if you really want to take advantage of the materials Choose A Challenge will be sending you, you have to strategize how you'll use them. I'll call myself out in this area, I for sure could have made better use of these materials in a manner that would've resulted in better attendance at my meeting.
Your flyers, these are great to pass out at events on campus like activity fairs, orientations, club events, etc. but you want to make sure the people you are giving them too are actually interested in what you're offering. It may be a bit daunting, but attending such events (either with a club's help or lone wolf style) is great opportunity to strike up a conversation with people, give a quick explanation of what you're promoting, and then hand out your flyers to those who seem interested. This way you know your flyers aren't just discarded by custodial staff or thrown away by uninterested students, you always come off best in person and will actually add numbers to your meeting.
The same could be said for posters. Ask around, talk to clubs that promote on campus, and think of areas that will see plenty of traffic (think bulletin boards) but also aren't in jeopardy of strict regulations. I know some of my posters I put up stayed for a long time and actually resulted in members joining my team and other posters that were mysteriously gone a day or two after I posted them; you want to be as effective as you can with them. Also, be creative: setting up your posters in interesting and innovative ways will draw people's attention and make them more likely to check out your event.
Make sure your Facebook event is up to snuff
This is another area that I admit I could've improved on. Choose A Challenge and Facebook itself (using its own internal algorithm) will be boosting your event in the days and weeks leading up to your meeting. To maximize how effective these campaigns are though, it is imperative that you have reached certain thresholds for invitees, interested, and going. We say that having at least 500 invited guests, 100 interested parties, and 50 marked as going are good numbers to shoot for because Facebook will start boosting your event to the top of news feeds on its own at this point and it will legitimize your event in the eyes of those who visit your page.
There are several ways to accomplish this and you will want to get this done by the very latest, a week prior to your event when Choose A Challenge will begin paid advertising. These include but are not limited to:
- Reaching out to club or organization admins that can invite literally every single member of their Facebook group.
- Using your own network and invite all of your friends on campus
- Sharing your event in your class pages (class of 2019, school of engineering, etc.)
- Asking those that you talk to/hand flyers out to to visit your event page and share the event with any friends they want to bring along
- Letting people know that there will be promo updates on the part of Choose A Challenge and your charity
Also make sure that you are regularly posting in this group to keep activity up and give the appearance of a very active page regardless of what the case may be.
Signage is key
This is key for the day of your meeting. Scope out the place, get there obnoxiously early, and most importantly put signs up directing people to the exact room that your meeting will be in even if you think it is super obvious. It can't hurt to help the directionally challenged out a bit and even if it is a bit overkill there is always the possibility of a random passerby seeing your signs and poking their head in to see what all the commotion is about.
This is all about making it as easy as possible for those looking to attend your meeting because lets face it, college kids are flaky, if there are too many obstacles standing between them some of the lesser-motivated will decide to do something else with their time. Another reason to show up early and do this is so you are not running around doing it as people are arriving as I may or may not have been doing before my meeting, having returned to the room a sweaty mess.
Be the mc of your Event
Although Choose A Challenge and your charity representatives will be the ones presenting to those you fill the room with and will handle all other meeting logistics, it always helps to be a friendly face as people start showing up. Welcome people as they come in and make sure that they are signing in with their emails (you can also do this by passing around a clipboard throughout the meeting). This is a good way not only to keep track of how many people showed up to your meeting but is also ideal for Choose A Challenge because we will be following up with all attendees, sending them more information and hype material that will help push people on the fence in the right direction. It will also leave a lasting impression on those in attendance, knowing they will be working with a welcoming and open leader, someone they can look forward to joining on your adventure. They remember the highlights of the presentation but they will also remember you.