Due to COVID-19, the information in this Guide is superseded by new Institute policies and procedures.
For the most up to date information, visit: https://institute-events.mit.edu/covid-19_eventplanning

Basic Event Planning


A. Preliminary Planning*

* Remember that advising and other support for developing an event idea are available through Student Activities, CAC, or MIT Events and Information Center.
  1. Set the goals for your event.
  2. Determine the responsibilities of each co-sponsor(s) and/or each individual(s).
  3. Identify your target audience (MIT/Non-MIT, Students/Faculty/Staff, etc.)
  4. Determine potential entertainment/speakers/facilitators (remember: NEVER SIGN A CONTRACT YOURSELF!).
  5. Consider potential dates, times, and locations.
  6. Develop a timeline for the various components of the planning process.
  7. Determine financial resources.
  8. Begin to develop an advertising and promotional plan.
  9. Determine if there are any safety hazards that are unusual.
  10. Think about green issues to make your event have less of an environmental impact, such as recycling and using virtual resources instead of paper resources.
  11. Consider accessibility issues such the need for sign interpreters and accessible facilities (e.g. elevator access, wheelchair ramps).

B. Before scheduling a room, determine the following information:

  1. Event type.
  2. Estimate attendance and identify audience (MIT/ Non-MIT).
  3. Date and time of event.
  4. Will you charge admission?
  5. Serving alcohol? Contact Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement Office, FSILG Office, Residential Life Programs Office, or the Information Center for more information.
  6. Determine equipment needs:
    • A/V Equipment
    • Podiums
    • Chairs and Tables
    • Lighting
    • Staging and Risers
    • Chalkboards
    • Trash/Recycling/Compost
    • ETC.
  7. Reserve extra times needed for rehearsals, setup, hanging lights, etc.
  8. Reserve extra room(s) needed for support of event (i.e. coat room, registration, dressing room, prep room, etc.)
  9. If all or part of your event is outdoors, consider your need for a rain location, a rain date, and/or a rain plan.

C. Reserve facility(ies) and/or promotional spaces:

  1. Contact the appropriate scheduling office
    • Classrooms: Schedules Office
    • Multipurpose and Promotional: Campus Activities Complex
    • Athletic: DAPER
    • Other Spaces: See the page on "Other Facilities"
  2. Check availability of space.
  3. Complete space applications processes (many of these processes are virtual).
  4. Upon receipt of confirmation, proceed to next step.
* Remember that reserving space does not mean the event is approved. Do not advertise or sell tickets until you have registered your event. Back
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D. Register your event if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. ALL events, whether on or off campus, where alcohol will be served.
  2. ALL on-campus events where money will be collected during the course of the event.
  3. For on-campus events in facilities other than residence halls, all non-academic/non-educational events where the attendence will exceed 100 people.
  4. For events in residence halls, any event open to non-residents where the attendance will exceed 100 people OR any event closed to non-residents where the attendance will exceed 250 people.
  5. ALL events where more than 20% of the audience is (or participants are) expected to be non-MIT community members, including conferences.
  6. All events that involve working with a non-MIT organization (as co-sponsor or guests).
  7. All events that involve working with minors.
  8. All events when required by appropriate campus department or under special circumstances.

E. If your event needs to be registered, the Event Host should register their event online through the Atlas system:

  1. Have the space for the event confirmed by the office responsible for scheduling that space (for residence halls, the House Manager must confirm spaces).
  2. Complete the Event Details section of the form, describing the general information for the event, including date, time, title, and other important details.
  3. If you plan to have alcohol at the event, you must obtain approval to do so by a member of Academic Council, typically Dean of Graduate students or VP of Student Life. Hosts cannot drink at the event. Event host must be present for the duration of the event.
  4. Have your event reviewed and approved by the appropriate appropriate registration office: Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement Office, FSILG Office, Residential Life Programs Office, or MIT Events and Information Center.
  5. Have Police at MIT review the event and assign security requirements, if necessary.
  6. Obtain liquor, entertainment, and/or other licenses, if required, 3 weeks prior to your event.
  7. Submit completed forms and copies of licenses to appropriate registration and scheduling offices.

F. Arrange for event support services, discuss the set up and logistical needs for your event, and determine cleanup requirements at least two weeks in advance, contact:

  • Campus Activities Complex (W20-500, 253-3913) to organize services in all CAC facilities, and non-athletic events in athletic facilities. OR
  • Other Offices to organize services in all other facilities and/or additional services not provided directly by the CAC. Please refer to the "Directory of Offices" section on the following page. For events in Residence Halls, please check with the House Manager or RLAD.
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G. Proceed with advertising and ticket sales.

* Note: Most events by and for the MIT community can be posted for free on the MIT Events Calendar.

H. Prepare for the day/night of the event.

  1. Organize, coordinate, and train volunteers.
  2. Remember to ARRIVE EARLY! You will not be let into the room prior to the stated event time.
  3. Review accessibility and safety concerns and considerations, particularly related to decorations, room capacity, and room setup.
  4. Consider how cash will be transported and deposited appropriately.
  5. Remember to have enough volunteers for cleanup. Cleanup is often room specific. Check with who you scheduled the room with, if you are unsure what is expected.

I. After the Event:

  1. Make sure to pay any outstanding bills
  2. Follow up with reimbursements as needed for student volunteers/staff. Receipts are needed.
  3. Remember to thank those that helped with the event. People like to know that they are appreciated, and will be more helpful for future events; volunteers are more likely to help again in the future.
  4. If you encountered problems, be sure to follow up with those involved and resolve these issues.
  5. Save an electronic record of what you did, so those that plan the event in the future will know what you did, save time, and can learn from your challenges.