Programming:  A Four Step Process

Successful programs aren’t born, but carefully crafted, thought out, and revised along the way.  If your group is going to be successful at recruitment and outreach, good programming is a necessity.  The key to successful programming involves four basic steps.



This portion is the most relaxed and the most open. This is the time for your group to brainstorm, dream a little, and forget about logistics or realities. It is also an important time, to ask important questions:

  • What do we want to do?
  • Why are we doing this?What need is being addressed?
  • Who are you serving? Who are you inviting?
  • Who can you collaborate with?
  • How can you grow your organization-involve volunteers, etc?

Engaging and Educating

Student writing on a dress
Harmony sponsored an educational event informing people about same-sex union and marriage legislature across the US. As part of the event, students were able to express their support for same sex marriage rights by drawing and writing on the wedding dress. [photo by: Jordan Hartman]

At the end of the development stage, when you have the core of your program planned out, consider your budget/how you are going to finance the program.  Once you have these two things in hand, you’re ready to begin planning.

Planning and Logistics

Now’s the time to hone in your ideas and accept realities:  with more than 60 other clubs, chances are that another group too is planning their next successful program.  You need to, before your next club meeting:

  • Secure the date and location on the University Calendar by filling out an event request.
  • Submit an Event Planning Form at least 3 weeks before the date of the event.
  • If you need to apply for appropriations, make sure that you’re able to prepare a proposal and attend a meeting before your program happens.
  • Check in with Clubs and Orgs to make sure all of your t’s are crossed and i’s dotted.


Promotion and Advertising is the second most important part of your programming process, right after setting down the logistics.  Without print and sometimes even web advertising, your program will be attended by the same people who are interested in your group—not by those you are trying to reach.  The best way to promote your program is to think in terms of three weeks:

  • Three weeks before your event, start spreading the word on your program by Word of Mouth and through a club email.  Have people put out feelers, to see who plans on coming.  At this stage in the game, it isn’t to late to revise things based on perceived attendance and what people’s reactions are to your program. Submit your Event Planning Form and reserve your space.
  • Two weeks before your event,  hit the campus with flyers and posters. The Impact boards are a good place to advertise as there is one in every building and residence hall.  One need not have the poster produced by Impact, but all posters not produced by impact must be stamped approved by SIL.  For more information on posting guidelines, visit the posting policies page.  Another good idea is to create a daily flyer ad.  These are simple to make and affordable.
  • One week before your event, it’s time to table.  You need to formally set this up through Conferences and Events, and you should contact them before this week to make sure there is space available.  In addition to tabling, set up a web presence either on your club’s website or on Facebook.   Sending out another club email is also a smart idea.

The day before the event you should make sure that you’re planning is coming together and that logistics are panning out.  By this day, if you’ve promoted your program right, word of mouth should be able to carry you over to the program.

Follow Up

Few groups realize that the program is not the end of the programming process.  After your event is finished, if you want to be successful in the future, you will follow up your program with both formalized and informal evaluations, to provide your group with good information for the rest of the year and future year’s groups.

Immediately following your event, you should:

  • Clean up the space you’ve used and return it to its original state
  • Tear down any advertising

At the next club meeting, you should:

  • Review with your group what worked/what didn’t
  • Leave notes to pass on for future event planning purposes
  • Identify any difficulties that occurred with the process and action steps for improvement in the future
  • Send thank you notes to key players in the planning.
  • Send thank you notes to people who may have stepped up in a moment of need
  • Thank your group and planning team

By following these four steps, your programs will take on new meaning—the will cease to be just about the program and more about the group process.  As your group learns to self-revise and self-evaluate, your process will become more streamlined.  The more your group follows these steps, over the years, the more your groups programs will be sustainable and long-lasting.