Event Planning for Geeks

John Labovitz

Who are we?

We organize…

We want to teach you…

How to get started planning your own event, in your own community, and where to find resources for learning more.

Reid Beels

What kind of event do you want to have?

  • Conference
  • Unconference
  • Code Sprint
  • Hackathon
  • Workshop

Reid Beels

Assemble and organize your team

Reid Beels

Find a venue for your event

Ankur Naik

Raise money

Possible sources of income:

Pay for things

Option 1: Have contributors pay vendors directly:

Pay for things

Option 2: Have contributors pay individuals on your planning team directly and then have those people pay for things.

Pay for things

Option 3: Use an existing organization for fiscal sponsorship.

Pay for things

Option 4: Start your own company or non-profit.

Pay for things

Some other caveats:

Don’t represent yourself as being able to take tax-deductible donations if you are not eligible according to the IRS. Make sure you sign up for a regular business account with PayPal and Google Checkout, etc., and avoid using the words “donation” or “donate” on your website and other materials.

Recruit and manage your volunteers

Reid Beels

Set the event format and schedule

Reid Beels

Solicit talks or session ideas

Make sure the right people will show up

This can be done for free or cheap

  • Write a reusable announcement
  • Cross-post everywhere
  • Get the whole team involved
  • Ask for help from willing partners—relevant bloggers, user group leaders, mailing list moderators
  • Postcards, flyers, and stickers are nice if you have funds

Register the attendees (ticket sales and more)

  • Depending on the size of your event, anything from a simple webform to an online service like Eventbrite can work
  • If you sell tickets, you’ll need decide how to handle payments
  • Plan for on-site volunteers to check people in and hand out badges/nametags

Reid Beels

Get insurance (when you need it), deal with liability, and respond when things go wrong

Audrey Eschright

Design and purchase event materials

  • Stickers, pins, t-shirts, scarves
  • Event supplies: paper, pens, signage

Reid Beels

Communicate with attendees

  • Your site: set up a blog
  • Twitter and other social media
  • Emails: just don’t send too many

Paul Fenwick

Arrange for wifi, food, A/V, power, and more

Manage the on-site venue logistics fun

Reid Beels

Keep it safe, fun, and welcoming: codes of conduct, after parties, and considerations for serving alcohol

Unfortunately, the default in open source is not for events to be open, welcoming and safe for everyone.

If you want your event to be different from that status quo, you’ll need to actively work to make it different. Here are some tips for doing so:

Continue on

Keep the momentum once your first event is over

Find out more

We started an event planning handbook at



Reid Beels

Thank you!

Stumptown Syndicate – http://stumptownsyndicate.org

Audrey Eschright – http://lifeofaudrey.com – spinnerin@gmail.com

Christie Koehler – http://christiekoehler.com – christiekoehler@gmail.com

Sherri Montgomery – http://vegannosh.me – pdx.yogini@gmail.com

This is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Please credit Stumptown Syndicate. Have fun planning your event!