Organizing an event for National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a great way to celebrate the recovery community and to share real-life experiences of people in recovery, their families, and the community who help make recovery possible. Events help spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover.
The North Dakota Department of Human Services provides a Planning Your Recovery Event Toolkit (PDF | 1.2 MB). The following are additional resources and tips to help you plan a successful Recovery Month event:
- Questions to Consider Before Planning Your Event
- Create a Recovery Month Event Timeline
- Secure an Event Speaker
- Obtain Permits and Ordinances
- What type of event do you want to have (for example, a walk/run, rally, barbecue, talent show)?
- How much money do you have available for your event? (Learn more from our fundraising tips and tools.)
- Are there other organizations that you should partner with?
- When should you hold the event? Keep in mind other events that may be happening at the same time. This way you can avoid competing dates or perhaps combine events with another partner.
- Where should you have the event? Is the location convenient? What logistics are required? For instance, if your event is outdoors, you may need a tented area and portable restrooms. If you’re hosting a benefit concert, you will need audiovisual equipment such as a sound board, speakers, and microphones.
- Do you need any special ordinances or permits?
- Will you serve food? Do you need access to a kitchen? How will you keep the food warm or cold?
- What activities will take place at your event? Do you want a special guest speaker, entertainment, or games?
- How will you promote the event? Learn more about using social media tools to promote your Recovery Month event.
Being organized and prepared are key to planning an event.
When preparing your event timeline, work backwards from the date of your event. Think through the activities and tasks for each step, and develop milestones tied to select dates in your checklist.
Remember, planning times vary depending on the size of your event. For instance, a small dinner may take a week to plan, while a 5K walk could take months to plan.
Sample Event-Planning Timeline
At Least 2 Months Before:
Figure out the basics
- Determine the type, size, and theme of the event
- Create a budget
- Select an event date and secure an event location
- Secure your event committee and hold regular meetings to track progress
Get partners on board
- Brainstorm potential event partnerships
- Reach out and secure event partners; leverage contacts of your event planning committee
- Host teleconferences or in-person meetings to develop your partnerships
- Decide the role that each partner will have in planning, promoting, and executing the event
- Leverage your partnerships and reach out to potential sponsors for donations
- Plan logistics (for example, arrange for entertainment, secure audiovisual equipment, address accessibility for people with physical disabilities, etc.)
- Find out if your venue can supply any of the items you will need (for example, chairs and tables)
- Decide what materials and services you will need from outside vendors (for example, food and beverages, signs and banners, decorations, restrooms, and attendee giveaways)
- Research vendors and get cost estimates for rented goods and services (for example, ask colleagues, friends, and family for recommendations)
- Secure and submit paperwork for any special permits or ordinances
Make your guest list
- Create an invite list of individuals and organizations
- Identify and invite local officials, special guests, experts, or performers who you would like to participate in or speak at the event
- Send out a "Save the Date" notice via mail or email
Decide how to promote the event
- Create promotional materials
- Develop posts for social media channels and a press release
- Create public service announcement (PSA) radio scripts to promote your event and share them with local radio stations
- Decide what media, if any, you would like to invite to your event
4 Weeks Before:
Confirm your guests
- Confirm local officials, special guests, experts, or performers who will be participating in or speaking at the event
Start to promote your event
- Begin promoting your event with tools that are already in place, such as your organization’s website and email lists, bulletin boards, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter
- Post your event on the Recovery Month website
- Finalize and send promotional materials (for example, flyers and pamphlets) to your printer
- Distribute invitations and event details
- Secure a catering service and determine the deadline to place your order (ideally it will be closer to the event when you have an estimated headcount of attendees)
3 Weeks Before:
Follow up with speakers
- Contact guest speakers or entertainers to see if they need additional materials for their presentation/performance
Continue to promote
- Continue promoting your event using social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth until the day of your event
- Draft a media advisory if you are seeking media coverage
- Remind local radio stations to continue broadcasting your PSAs
2 Weeks Before:
Send out your advisory
- Send out a media advisory and press release
- Finalize event logistics (for example, parking, audiovisual equipment, room layout, and catering order)
Create a schedule and signs
- Create a day-of-event schedule and agenda (including staff assignments)
- Develop and print special event signage and programs
1 Week Before:
Prepare your staff for the event
- Finalize the event agenda and share with staff or volunteers
- Walk your staff and volunteers through their event day assignments
Do a final check-in with your speakers
- Contact guest speakers or entertainers to make sure they have the correct time and location and an onsite contact for the event day; collect any presentations or materials speakers will be using
Visit the venue
- Do a final walk-through at the event venue
- Hold a dress rehearsal for speakers or performance groups
- Create name badges or special place cards for invited guests, committee members, and members of the organization
Week of Event:
- Do a final promotion push through social media or other channels
- Test technology and equipment for the event (for example, sound, lighting, video)
- Arrive early on the day of the event and make sure that staff or volunteers are at their posts (for example, directing traffic, overseeing caterers, supporting VIP attendees, etc.)
- Hold your event and enjoy!
Week Following Event:
- Send thank-you notes to special guests, media outlets, and community partners
- Meet with event committee members to evaluate the success of the event, and discuss any lessons learned
- Review and reconcile all vendor payments and invoices
Having a guest speaker will add context and purpose to your event. The guest speaker should be able to articulate the importance of the prevention and treatment of mental and/or substance use disorders.
When choosing a potential speaker, consider the attendees at your event, since you want someone who can connect with your audience. Start by making a list of three to four potential speakers based on the needs of your event, and rank each speaker in order of priority.
Here are steps to take your list from “potential speakers” to a “confirmed speaker”:
- Draft a letter or email to extend the invitation to your first-choice speaker and determine his or her availability. The letter or email should provide the speaker with the purpose and overview of the event, potential topics, his or her role during the event, and a contact person to speak with for more information.
- If the speaker confirms, schedule a phone call or in-person meeting to provide more details about your event and his or her involvement.
- Work with your speaker to make sure that he or she has a solid understanding of the goal and purpose of your event, so the speaker can prepare an appropriate message.
- On the day of the event, designate an onsite contact to assist the speaker.
For some events, such as those where you close a local street, have live entertainment, or serve food, you may be required to obtain special approvals.
Each city and town are different, so it is extremely important to check with your local government’s community planning and development or administrative office to find out if you need a permit, license, or ordinance for your event. Obtain all of the necessary paperwork and be aware of submission deadlines and fees. It’s critical to reach out to your local government’s office early in the planning process, at least four weeks before your event.