A group of volunteers cleaning up a park as part of a community event.


Community events bring multiple benefits to an area. Residents can connect with people they might otherwise never meet, and they can interact in an inclusive setting regardless of cultural or economic background. Ideally, the bonds during an event will carry over to everyday life, with people in a neighborhood feeling more connected to the people around them. 


Planning such events is challenging. The budget is typically limited. Also, those involved behind the scenes often work on a volunteer basis, meaning other priorities could limit their participation. 


If you account for all the variables beforehand, you can increase the chance of having a successful occasion. Here is what to consider when organizing an event. 

Creating a Budget 

Often times, a community event has budget limitations. Even if you obtain funding, you need to plan the financial aspect of the event beforehand. With all financial requirements accounted for, you can avoid cost overruns or save yourself from needing additional funding to pay for overlooked necessities. 


Here are the costs to consider when building a budget for a community event.


  • The venue;
  • Permits;
  • Security;
  • Food and beverages;
  • Performers, rides, or other attractions;
  • Coverings or space for inclement weather;
  • Lighting, sound systems, or additional equipment. 


These costs will become apparent when you define the size and scope of the event. Factors to consider include:


  • Estimated attendance;
  • Number of vendors;
  • Main and secondary events;
  • Necessary equipment based on activities, attractions, and climate conditions. 


An exhaustive list can help you prioritize costs. If everything does not fit within your budget, you can cut unnecessary items, equipment, or activities and focus on the main attractions. 


A basic spreadsheet or bookkeeping software will be sufficient to create and fine-tune your budget. 

Choosing a Space 

You need to consider several factors when selecting a suitable space for your community event. 


  • Size is the most important factor. You need a place to accommodate the number of attendees and vendors and the planned activities. 
  • Amenities are also a necessary consideration. Your venue should have enough restrooms for attendees and things like electrical hookups, food prep areas, and cold storage. 
  • Parking and transport are essential as well. You need to ensure the space is easily accessible by car, on foot, or via public transportation. 
  • Accessibility for all attendees is vital. Local permitting authorities may require accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This step includes ensuring accessible sidewalks, ramps, and clearly marked routes into the event space for those with mobility limitations. 


Finally, you need to ensure the space has facilities and equipment to deal with all possible weather that could occur on festival dates. 

Acquiring Permits

Permits are a necessary formality for almost every event. You apply for these documents and pay the necessary fees to municipal authorities overseeing your local area. 


Your town’s government may welcome community events, but they also have to cover the cost of extra law enforcement, traffic control, utilities, and cleanup. A permit application asks you to define space, activities, and planned attendance so that city personnel can plan the right level of services to accommodate the event. 


The types of documents, information, and costs will vary depending on the size and type of event and the rules of your local authorities. However, every event will likely require permits and close communications with your town’s government. 

Finding Vendors   

There are three steps for working with vendors for community events. 


First, during planning, you need to define the type of services you need for your event. Most events use catering or food service providers, entertainers, amusement ride rentals, activity organizers or facilitators, or third-party retailers. 


The second step is finding vendors that meet your requirements. Factors for selection include cost, ability to meet expectations, availability, reputation, and reviews from past event hosts. 


The final step is coordinating with your selected vendors. You need to clearly define arrival time, setup process, available facilities, duration of the event, and other expectations. Any vendors you want to hire should be willing to work within these parameters. 

Gathering Supplies 

Vendors will bring the supplies necessary for their operation, but they will not provide any additional materials. As an event organizer, you are responsible for gathering these items. 


Supply needs can vary depending on the event type and location. Most planners need to either obtain the following or ensure the venue or vendors provide them.


  • Seating, tables, chairs, or picnic facilities;
  • Decorations;
  • Restroom supplies;
  • Signs for directing attendees and vendors;
  • Paper tickets for entry or food purchases;
  • Electrical cords;
  • First-aid supplies.


You should also have additional materials and tools to make repairs or quick fixes during the event. 

Recruiting Volunteers 

Volunteers help with setup and running the event. They can direct attendees, serve food, help with crowd control, and coordinate with vendors. 


Volunteers can help you with all the support tasks necessary for the event while allowing you to stick to your budget. You can attract volunteers by advertising on local social media groups or sending a press release asking for volunteers to local media outlets. Also, you might consider trying to coordinate with community groups who are already active in your area. 


While you don’t pay volunteers, you can offer perks, such as free admission to the event, customized t-shirts, and lanyards with badges identifying them as volunteers or staff for the event. 


You need to hold meetings or training before the event so that volunteers understand their duties and expectations. 

Promoting the Event  

Event promotion is key to ensuring you meet attendance goals. If your budget allows, you can send flyers to residents in the area and place posters at local businesses and public gathering spaces. 


You can spread the word on social media and ask local groups with websites or social media accounts to post about your event for their followers. If your area has local journalists or bloggers, you can contact them to ask if they will mention your event or provide coverage. 


You should not overlook non-digital promotions like asking local businesses or residents to place yard signs with event details on their property.

Decorating the Space  

With the logistical and financial aspects of an event, it can be easy to overlook the space itself. You will want a welcoming and festival environment. You can keep decorations simple and cost-effective by focusing on table settings and using customized accents like printed balloons or posters to brand your community event.


If you plan carefully and focus on the details, you can create a fun and welcoming community event that will benefit your local area and allow residents to make lasting connections with their neighbors. 

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