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Festival or Event Planning Guide

How to Organize a Birding or Nature Festival

Nancy S. Millar   See more about Nancy Millar

The Festival


Decide on the main components you want to incorporate onto the event. They will probably include seminars and field trips. Decide on any other areas: a trade show, specialized workshops, children’s involvement, a dinner, any other special areas and events. Delegate one volunteer as chair of each area. Then think of other needs: publicity, technical support, registration, finance, volunteer coordination, hospitality.

Delegate! There will be myriad details. It is probably a good idea for the festival volunteer chair and the main staff contact to be kept fairly free of specific areas of responsibility, as many details will come up that will require a good deal of time, especially in the first year.

Starting Off On The Right Foot

Very important to the smooth running of an event of this size is the understanding from the beginning of the areas of responsibility of workers.

  • Elect or appoint officers. The festival will require a chair, secretary and treasurer at the very least.
  • Have written descriptions of responsibilities from the very beginning. Without written parameters, it is very easy for volunteers to believe their role is an advisory one and feel that others will handle the actual work. This can kill the event before it happens. The project will be too large for one or two people to handle. It truly needs strong leaders in each of the identified areas.
  • Motivate the volunteers by empowering them. Allow them to make the decisions in their areas.
  • Save large, comprehensive decisions and policy, however, for the executive committee.
9 Main Points to Remember
  1. Decide on the elements of the festival.
  2. Develop a mission statement, goals, budget, timelines. Be realistic.
  3. Develop a logo and use it consistently.
  4. Decide on the target market.
  5. Decide on program format and fee structure.
  6. Appoint/elect an executive committee.
  7. Develop bylaws even if not incorporated.
  8. Appoint/elect a steering committee, all committee heads & other major positions.
  9. Decide on individual committees: seminars, trade show, registration, publicity, sponsorships, field trips, technical, education, planting, historian, hospitality, signage, communications, novelties, transportation, financial, volunteer.

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