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How do you host a small community event? A 10-step guide

In this article, we cover off the 10 key steps you’ll need to follow to plan a successful small community event. 

a group of people walking under a string of flags

Community events are a great way to bring people together, whether that’s to raise money or simply let you hone your event planning skills. From fairs to mini festivals, there are plenty of options for putting on a memorable community gathering, and while you will need to be organised, the whole process can be really fun and rewarding. 

In this article, we cover off the 10 key steps you’ll need to follow to plan a successful small community event. 

1. Pull a small but reliable team together

Even planning a small community event can become overwhelming if you try to go it alone. Having said that, the saying “too many cooks…” definitely applies here. Strike a balance with just enough people to pull the different elements of your event together, without making things overly-convoluted. 

Try to appoint a handful of people to different roles, for example, you might appoint someone to be incharge of invites and marketing, someone to organise food and drink, and someone to arrange entertainment. Appoint yourself as the team leader to keep things on track.

2. Decide on a theme and goals for your event

Refine your event goals and make these clear to your team. This is important as these goals will inform pretty much every other stage of your event planning. Some examples of goals for community events include:

  • To raise money for charity or something for the community
  • To showcase local talent
  • To grow your own event planning portfolio 

It’s also a good idea to come up with a core theme at this stage. Are you going to go for a village fete vibe, a festival-feel, or something more niche like a certain historical decade? Defining this now will give you a clear focus when it comes to things like decor, entertainment and even food and drink.

3. Secure a location or venue for your event 

There are lots of different elements to consider when it comes to securing a location for a public community event. If you want to use a public place, like a park, you’ll need to get permission from the local council by submitting an application. Make sure you do this in good time as most councils will need a set amount of time to consider an application. You can also ask for permission from your local council to close a road (say, if you’re going for a street party vibe), although emergency vehicles will need to be able to get through at any time. 

If you want to host your event on private land you will, of course, need to get permission from the land owner. 

Hiring out a private venue is also an option, but will probably be more costly than using a public space.

4. Find out what licences you might need, if any

When you’re planning a small community event, you’ll most probably want to keep the red tape to a minimum. That’s why it’s important to do a bit of research, which will help you find out how you can run things without having to get unnecessary licences. For example, if you’re planning on raising money for charity at your event, it’s wise to do this via a raffle, which you don’t need to get a licence for as long as:

  • Tickets for the raffle (or sweepstake or tombola) are sold at the event not prior to it
  • The winners are announced at the event
  • No more than £500 is spent on prizes (not including donated prizes) 

There are also lots of kinds of entertainment you can provide at a community event without a licence, including the below, as long as they are between the hours of 8am-11pm.

You will need to check whether your venue has licences from PRS (Performing Rights Society) for Music and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) to play recorded music at a public event though. If they don’t, or if you’re running your event in a public space, you’ll need to check with the above two organisations to see if you need licences. 

5. Choose an event registration method 

Even if your event has free entry, it’s a good idea to use an event registration platform so you can keep an eye on numbers.

Head here to find out how Ticket Tailor can help with ticketing for charity fundraisers.

6. Organise food & drink 

When it comes to putting on a great community event, it’s best to keep things simple. Focus on quality over quantity with a couple of great food vendors, or get the locals involved with things like cake and jam sales. Just make sure everyone is able to comply with food safety regulations. If you want to provide alcohol at your event, you can do this without a licence if you’re not taking payment for it. To sell alcohol, you will need a temporary licence unless your venue is already licenced. 

7. Do a risk assessment and consider health and safety 

It’s always important to consider health and safety when you’re putting on an event. For example, you’ll need to check your location for tripping hazards, and make sure it has enough exits for the amount of numbers you’re expecting at your event. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather, so you’re aware of things like potential heatwaves or particularly windy conditions.

Be careful to consider possible accidents that could happen at your event, and think about whether you need some kind of insurance in place, like public liability insurance. This protects you if a member of the public is injured at your event and wants to bring a legal claim against you.

8. Get the word out about your event

Last but definitely not least, you’ll need to get the word out about your event. This might involve putting notices up around your town or village, or posting in community groups on social media. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth for small events, either. Enlist the help of friends, family and colleagues in getting the news out about your event, and you’ll be sure to have a good turn out.

Tip: We have an article on how to successfully promote an event on Instagram, which might be useful.

Community events play a vital role in bringing people together, and ultimately can be a lot of fun to organise and participate in. With a bit of careful planning and plenty of creativity, you're bound to put on a great event that brings everyone in your local area together. Good luck!

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