Are you organising an event for the locals? Then you’ll want to read these golden guidelines for planning a community event.
In this guide, we’ll cover…
- What a community event is
- How to organise a public meeting and get volunteers
- The importance of an event planning checklist
- Health and safety procedures
- Public and employer’s liability insurance
- Risk assessments
- Licenses for food, alcohol, gambling, and entertainment
- How to contact local media
- Privacy and data protection
There’s a lot to go through, so let’s get right into the nitty-gritty.
What is a community event?
A community event is organised by locals for locals. It is usually planned and run by volunteers who want to bring the local community closer together.
Examples of community events include:
- Street parties
- Film screenings
- Pub quizzes
- Gardening days
- Swap shops
- Themed days
- Live performances
- Food festivals
- Farmer’s markets
In other words, it can be anything from a raffle to a charity fundraiser. Your community event is only limited by your imagination.
1. Organise a public meeting
It’s usually a team of volunteers who runs a community event rather than professional organisers. That means you need to find locals who would be interested in making the event happen.
A good way to go about that is to first organise a public meeting. You can host it outdoors, in a community centre, or in a local church.
Here are a few ways you can publicise the meeting:
- Post flyers through residential letterboxes
- Put up posters in local shop windows and noticeboards
- Write a letter in a local newspaper
- Announce it on local radio
- Create an online event and invite your neighbours
Once you’ve gathered a crowd, you should keep it broad and simple. The idea is not to map everything out beforehand.
Rather, you want to create excitement around the initial event idea. Ask for input from locals who attend the meeting and want to get involved with the organisation.
2. Use an event planning checklist
You should write down all the ideas you come up with at the public meeting. Once you’ve had a moment to go over the list, it’s time to get into specifics.
Figure out what’s required to bring your event ideas to life. Then order everything by priority and evaluate how much it’ll cost.
Tip: You can use our event planning checklist to help you plan your community event.
3. Read up on health and safety procedures
Health and safety procedures are often referred to as the ultimate buzzkill. But they are there to ensure that no one gets hurt during the event.
You need to consider who will be attending the event and where it’s taking place. Common sense goes a long way here: You just need to apply a bit of Murphy’s Law.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering health and safety:
- Does the event involve any potentially dangerous equipment?
- Could anyone get injured from event activities?
- Is there a chance the venue will be too hot or too cold?
- Are there any potential fire hazards?
- Will there be vulnerable people at the event?
- Do your volunteers need any training beforehand?
- What are you going to do in case of an accident?
Tip: Learn more about simplifying health and safety precautions.
4. Public liability and employer’s liability insurance
It’s important to be insured in case anything goes wrong despite your best efforts.
The insurance policies we’ll look at now are public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance.
Please note that public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement. But if anything happens, a claim might be filed against you. And it’ll get expensive very fast.
Public liability insurance
You need public liability insurance if there is any chance of injury to people, or the loss, theft, or damage of property. In other words, pretty much all larger events.
Employer’s liability insurance
You also need a separate employer’s liability insurance if any of your staff are paid. But it’s not a legal requirement if everyone is volunteering.
5. Conduct a risk assessment
A risk assessment is a list of different things that can go wrong. Usually, they involve people getting injured or property getting damaged.
You should carry out a risk assessment to minimise the chances of something bad happening. As with health and safety procedures, you should apply common sense liberally.
Tip: You can look at these sample risk assessments to get an idea of what it looks like.
6. Acquire the right licenses
You will likely need to acquire a license or two for your community event. If your event involves gambling, alcohol, and entertainment, you’ll definitely need a few.
Here are some of the activities you may need to obtain a license for:
- Raffles and society lotteries
- Bingo, race, and casino nights
- Live music events
- Film screenings
- Serving alcohol
- Serving food and drinks
- Events on public land
- Street collections
- Street parties and parades
And here are some of the places you can learn about the different licences:
- Gambling Commission for information on gambling licenses.
- PRS and PPL for information about using copyrighted music.
- BFI for information about local film screenings.
- MPLC for information about using copyrighted films.
- Food Standards Agency for information about serving food.
- Your local council for information about live entertainment, street collections, street closures, serving alcohol, and organising events on public land
It’s generally a good idea to apply for these licenses as far in advance as you can. Preferably no later than a month before the event is taking place.
7. Get in touch with the local media
You should also do your best to promote the community event. Social media is your friend, but it can also be a good idea to contact the local media.
Write up a press release for the event before you get in touch with the local paper.
Tip: Check out our detailed guide on how to write a press release for an event.
8. Privacy and data protection
Photos and videos from events are great for marketing and promotion. But you should take extra care when you plan a community event.
All personal data (including images) is protected by GDPR regulations. That means you need to obtain permission from the person to keep it on file.
It’s a good idea to announce to guests that you intend to take pictures and film the event. If you plan on sharing it on social media, then include that as well.
Now there’s just the event itself
You now know everything you need to keep your community event on the right side of the law.
Now there is only…everything else.