Remember when bad weather days would come up in elementary school, and your teacher had to move recess inside? All you could do was play checkers or watch a terrible movie. Being inside was the worst for most students (and teachers!)
When we talk about being inside, we often use the words “cooped up.” It can be a challenge for park and recreation departments to change modes, focusing on indoor activities, especially during those cold winter months or particularly stormy days. But, it’s essential to keep your community engaged in person, even when the weather doesn’t permit us to soak up the sunshine in our favorite park.
In this guide, we’ll discuss three steps to planning a wonderful indoor event for your park and recreation agency, avoiding the “cooped up” feeling of a boring, inside recess.
Choose the event’s purpose.
Think about your mission. Parks, trails and the outdoors are a large part of your day-to-day, but most park and recreation agencies reach for a larger endeavor to improve and enhance the lives of people in their community. There are all kinds of ways to do this, through different types of events.
Before you start your event planning, define the purpose of this specific event. For example, you may want to raise money to fund a project or equipment, advocate for important matters in the community, or promote resources you offer. Here’s a breakdown of each of these examples:
- Raise money for a facility: Hosting a fundraiser will increase your annual budget while providing fun and entertainment for your constituents. You can host something as fun and casual as an indoor sports tournament or as fancy as a catered dinner and silent auction.
- Advocate for important community matters: You may want to host an informational event that educates the community and gives voice to the issues that are important to them. This indoor event could look like an informational speech or community fair about environmental conservation, diversity or childhood obesity.
- Promote the resources you offer: Even if you feel like you have given a speech about your services a thousand times, your constituents may not know about everything you have to offer. Hosting an event that shares information on how to get involved in your sports programs, health resources and more will not only educate your community but also gain you more helping hands in the long run.
Once you’ve narrowed down the event’s purpose, attach a measurable goal to it, such as acquiring a certain number of new attendees or raising a specific amount of money.
Determine and prepare event activities.
Now that your goals are clear, you should choose the activities you’ll host during that event. Consider the following event ideas and the types of activities that accompany them:
- Fundraising auction: An auction is perfect if you want to raise money. Your activities will include the auction itself, providing enticing items for your audience to bid on, a speaker, music and more.
- Indoor sports tournaments: This event could raise money or awareness for sporting programs in colder months. You might feature sports like basketball, swimming, dodgeball, rock climbing, ping pong, volleyball and more.
- Holiday activities: An event centered around a holiday could raise money or awareness about advocacy issues (or both!). For example, you might host a fun haunted house that includes “scary” facts about pollution and harmful household items during the Halloween season to promote conservation.
Once you’ve determined your event type and activities, you can start preparing your master plan with the setup for your venue, your budget, the necessary software, and your team of volunteers and staff.
Promote your event to your audience.
Finally, you’ll need to promote your event, get the word out to your members or the general public, and encourage registrations or ticket purchases. Use multiple platforms to reach out to your audience and tell them about the event. Some of these platforms include:
- Social media
- Local flyers
- Direct mail
Be sure to link to your registration page or include a QR code on physical invitations that allow people to scan and easily register for the event. Track which of your event outreach platforms were most effective and consider why it performed well. Then, you’ll know how to best reach people for future events.
Winter may be coming, but when you keep your mission in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll develop an event that your supporters will love. “Indoor recess” can be something everyone looks forward to each year!
Jeff Porter is the Founder & CEO of Handbid.