How to Plan Events

Step by Step Event Planning


Determine the scope of your event as best you can: how much it will cost, when and where you plan to hold/host it, whether or not you plan to have catering, and whether or not you’ll require media services. SOME IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT SCOPE:

  • If you plan to host an event for fewer than 15 people, none of whom are minors, all of whom are Harvard affiliated, if it will not be held on a weekend or after 5:00 p.m. (which may trigger personnel issues if Media Services and/or Security are required), and if you don’t expect to require Media Services or catering, you can simply go online and reserve an appropriate room through Room Scheduling (room_scheduling@hms.harvard.edu). Please use the Student Council billing code: 520-46810-xxxx-000001-746037-0000-00000.
  • If you plan to host a larger event (50 or more), have minors and/or non-Harvard affiliates at your gathering, and/or your event will be held after 5:00 p.m. or on a weekend, you should plan to provide HMS Security (security@hms.harvard.edu) with a list of their names for the Security Desk to ensure that they’re able to gain access to campus without HUIDs.
  • If you plan to have catering at your event, depending on where you host it, you should plan to contact HMS Facilities (facilitiescallcenter@hms.harvard.edu) to request tables on which to put your food.
  • If you plan to use the Harvard Medical School and/or Harvard School of Dental Medicine logos, you should plan to contact Belinda Davis(belinda_davis@hms.harvard.edu) and Paul Dimattia(paul_dimattia@hms.harvard.edu) in the Office of Communications External Relations (OCER) to ensure that you get the correct, meaning officially sanctioned logo.
  • If you and your co-organizers plan to put out monies up front to cover costs and will eventually require reimbursement, you will need to work with the Office of Student Affairs to create profiles in Harvard University’s vendor system. This will entail completing a w-9 form, which the Director of Student Affairs will then submit to the Office of Finance for processing. The turn-around for this process is usually 1-2 business days. Once your profile is created you will need to complete a Non-employee reimbursement form and submit all original receipts to the Director of Student Affairs. The Non-employee reimbursement form requires an original signature, and takes at least 7-10 business days to process. Given this, plan to complete and submit w-9 forms as early as you can so your profile is set up and the reimbursement process is smooth. Also, do NOT spend money that you will then urgently need to be reimbursed for. Harvard University is a highly efficient but huge organization; reimbursements take time.
  • If you plan to fundraise, you must submit your letters to the Program for Medical Education’s Director of Finance Matt Sandler (matthew_sandlers@hms.harvard.edu) for review. Please cc Director of Student Affairs on this correspondence (rosa_soler@hms.harvard.edu). If you are able to obtain funds from donors, please advise them to make checks payable to the HMS/HSDM Student Council (if you are a student group), indicate that any donations from an are not tax-deductible and to indicate clearly on the check which specific student group the check is for and/or the name of the event. Also advise them that all checks should be mailed to the following address:
HMS Student Council Vanderbilt Hall 352 107 Avenue Louis Pasteur Boston, MA 02115 Finally, please contact the HMS/HSDM co-treasurers (student_council_treasurer@hms.harvard.edu) with a cc to the Director of Student Affairs (rosa_soler@hms.harvard.edu) to inform them to expect checks from donors, including the amounts and institution donating it so that HMS/HSDM Student Council co-treasurers have a heads-up to keep an eye out for these checks and to deposit them into the right account in a timely manner. HMS/HSDM Student Council pays for parking. If you anticipate that your guests will require parking, please check with HMS/HSDM Student Council leadership to determine your budget for parking, and then contact the Director of Student Affairs, who will make parking arrangements.




Who to Check Plans With Before Taking Action


Once you have a sense of scope, contact the following constituents to let them know of your plans, and to get feedback about your intended scope:

  • Director of Student Affairs (Rosa Soler, rosa_soler@hms.harvard.edu)
  • Faculty Adviser (if you’re a student group and have a faculty adviser)
  • HMS/HSDM Student Council (student_council@hms.harvard.edu) iif you are a student group with some funding allocated to determine existing funding )
  • Room Scheduling (room_scheduling@hms.harvard.edu) to determine room availability and to make room reservation. NOTE: Please be sure to answer all fields as accurately as possible. Doing so prompts Room Scheduling to follow up with other departments as needed, which will be beneficial to your event. Please cc Director of Student Affairs on this correspondence. Please use the Student Council billing code: 520-46810-xxxx-000001-746037-0000-00000.
  • HMS Media Services (Media_Services@hms.harvard.edu) to request audio-visual support as needed and to determine exact costs. Please cc Director of Student Affairs on this correspondence.
  • HMS Security (security@hms.harvard.edu) if you expect non-Harvard affiliates or minors, to attend, if you plan to serve alcohol, or if your event will be held on a weekend or after 5:00 p.m., inform them of the event and inquire about any additional information they may need. Please cc Director of Student Affairs.
  • Belinda Davis (belinda_davis@hms.harvard.edu) and Paul Dimattia (paul_dimattia@hms.harvard.edu) in the Office of Communications and External Relations if you plan to use the logo in your electronic marketing of the event and/or on posters. Please cc Director of Student Affairs on this correspondence.
Contact your guests with details of your exciting event! Give them enough advance notice so that they can plan to attend. This is meant as a general guide. It is not exhaustive. If you have questions or concerns,err on the side of advance planning and pro-active communication. This will ensure that your event is a success. The Office of Student Affairs is here to support your efforts. The programs initiated by HMS/HSDM students are among the most robust, relevant, and important that occur on the Harvard Longwood Campus, and OSA is proud to be a part of them.




General Overview


Planning an event is a complex process that more often than not involves multiple departments on the Harvard Longwood Campus (HLC), including Security, the Office of Communications and External Relations, Catering, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), Room Scheduling and Custodial/Facilities. In order to ensure that your event is successful, and that we maintain positive relationships with our colleagues in other departments, it is important to carefully consider the scope of your event. Here are some questions to consider as you develop a complete picture of what you’ll need, and what teams around campus you’ll need to engage in order to ensure that your event is success:

  • What is my anticipated budget for this gathering – for catering, for media services (hand-held mics, lavaliers, video-taping all have fees associated with them), for the speaker fee (if there is one), for security, for a certified bartender (required if minors are in attendance), for space reservations, for marketing for the event?
  • What date do I plan to host this event? Have I ensured that it doesn’t conflict with other, perhaps required events and/or major holidays? Is the space that I intend to use available on this day and at this time?
  • How many attendees do I expect to come – will any of the attendees be non-Harvard affiliates? Will any of the attendees be minors?
  • Will I need to use the Harvard Medical School or Harvard School of Dental Medicine logo(s) in my marketing materials?
  • Will I need to fundraise or otherwise get sponsorship to support this gathering?
  • Will my peers and I spend monies up front to cover the costs of things like decorations and other items and require reimbursement from Harvard University?
  • Have I communicated with the Office of Student Affairs and/or the HMS/HSDM Student Council to inform them of the event I plan to host?
  • Will any of the guests I have invited require parking?
  • Will my event take place after 5:00 p.m. and/or on a weekend?
Given the many facets that there are for planning a successful gathering, the most crucial aspect of doing so is allowing enough time: enough time for you to determine the scope of what you’re envisioning, and then allowing enough time to effectively and pro-actively communicate with all the members of the HMS/HSDM community that you will need to support your efforts. The Office of Student Affairs recommends that you allow a minimum of six weeks to plan your gathering in an orderly, thoughtful manner.





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