Basic Event Planning

Event Planning

An event is any activity that requires you to make arrangements before the program can actually take place. It may be anything from an introductory meeting or study break to a concert, film, conference, or dramatic performance. But keep in mind that no matter how small or easy an event may seem, some advance planning is required.

All student groups must meet with a SOLE staff member at least one month prior to the following events:

  • Conferences
  • Events that involve a payment of $5,000 or more
  • Events that involve high profile participants or that will draw media attention to MIT
  • Events that require complex contracts from an outside vendor
  • Events involving minors (anyone 17 years old or younger)

Student groups are encouraged to visit the SOLE for guidance in planning any events, large or small. Here are some specific steps in the event planning process for your group to consider:

Do not assume anything!


  • Be clear about why you are sponsoring the event. What is the event's purpose?
  • Consider other student groups or departments that may want to co-sponsor the event.
  • Know who your intended audience is and determine a realistic expectation of event attendance.
  • Determine how much funding you have available and plan a fundraising strategy if necessary. Apply to funding sources or seek donations.
  • Determine possible dates and times for your event while considering religious and institute holidays and the scheduling of other campus events by checking the MIT Events Calendar at
  • Identify potential locations where the event could be held, including rain locations.
  • Consider your audio-visual and set-up needs.
  • Develop a realistic timeline for beginning and completing the various components of the planning process.


  • Research costs to create a realistic event budget.
  • Apply for and be sure to receive a written confirmation that the event spaces you want are available for you to use. Remember to consider accessibility issues.
  • Research and select potential entertainers, speakers, facilitators, etc.
  • Establish a contract with vendors, performers, or speakers (Note: Outside contracts take significantly longer to negotiate than the standard MIT events contract available in the SOLE).
  • If your event meets the requirements, complete the Event Registration process (which may involve obtaining a City of Cambridge license and acquiring a police detail) at least 3 weeks prior to event.
  • Determine your catering needs and contact the caterer to put your event on their schedule. If you plan to serve alcohol, complete the alcohol approval process. If you plan to bring a food truck to campus, please email MIT will only allow food trucks that are registered to operate within the City of Cambridge.
  • Consider appropriate "green" practicies for your event like recycling.
  • Develop an effective advertising strategy.
  • If your event requires AV or technical support, contact MIT AV.
  • Begin recruiting volunteers and delegate responsibilities among members of your team.
  • Contact the Environmental Health & Safety office early if your event will require planning for safety considerations. Refer to Safety section.
  • Meet with the facilities operations manager to determine event logistics.
  • If you plan to sell tickets, determine how (online or tabling) and when you will sell. Student groups can reserve a cash box from SOLE any time money will exchange hands. When selling tickets online, students must use Admit One.

Advising and Training

MIT has several support mechanisms for event planners. The Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement Office staff (W20-500, 253-6777) is available to advise student groups both with group dynamics and specifically in the area of event planning. Student groups can also get event logistics support through the Campus Activities Complex (CAC) (W20-500, 253-3913). For departmental events, both CAC and the Information Center (7-121, 253-4795) are available to help work through event issues and logistics.

In addition, the Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement Office offers workshops that give an overview of the entire event planning process at MIT. To get information about any upcoming workshops, please contact the Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement Office at 253-6777 or via email at

For departments, MIT Conference Services offers a one-stop shop for conference organizers, providing professional conference planning and registration services. For further information, visit their website,, or call them at 253-1700.

In addition for department event coordinators, the MIT Events and Information Center organizes informational activities for event planners on campus. Please contact the MIT Event and Information Center if you would like to join

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Planning for your event is very important. Do not assume anything. For example, when you think about reserving a room on campus, do not assume that the room will have furniture in it or that a podium and microphone will be there for you. Keep in mind that in the business of event planning, the only thing that will happen for you is what your organization arranges to have happen.

Once you know what you want to do, you can then begin tackling the logistics of making it happen. On the following pages, information is provided to guide you through the event planning process.

Student Organizations,
Leadership and
Engagement Office (SOLE)
W20-500, 253-6777

Campus Activities
Complex (CAC)
W20-500, 253-3913

MIT Events and Information Center
7-121, 253-4795