How to...plan a student event on a budget - part one

Whatever the occasion, organising a student event will let you make something memorable happen and give you practical experience in coordinating people. Sylvia Nankivell from Student Money Saver shares her budget-busting tips.

You might have to scrimp, but planning an event at uni can give you great experience
You might have to scrimp, but planning an event at uni can give you great experience

Founding questions

There are three questions that need to be answered before you can put your devious plan into action. What is the event, why are you doing it and who is it for?

The first question is the easiest, but ‘why’ and ‘who’ are the recurring queries that you should keep returning to for the whole campaign. For example, if you are planning a charity event, the answer to ‘why’ could be ‘To raise money for a particular charity’. The answer to ‘who?’ throws up a number of answers: ‘For the charity, the people who will benefit from the charity, and most importantly, the people who will pay to attend the event’.

Whatever the event, the audience is always the most important, as this is who needs to be satisfied in order to make it a success.

Don’t do it alone

It’s important to have at least one other person to share the workload and brainstorm ideas with. Make sure the group regularly meets up to discuss inevitable changes and that everyone feels comfortable with plans as they alter and develop. When these meetings happen, make sure you ask those important questions again: ‘Why are we doing this?’ and ‘Who is it for?’ to ensure the project stays on track.

Having help will also decrease the financial burden of the event, a problem shared is a problem solved.


It is always easier (and cheaper) to organise an event on campus. The Student Union are trained not only to be really helpful but realistic about what will work and make your event successful.. Treat early events as free training experiences, then once you have organised a few successful happenings you’ll be ready to take it into the ‘real world’ of bars and nightclubs.

If you need to raise money to rent out a building, use this as an opportunity to get some free publicity, grab a bucket and collect some change. If you do it in fancy dress you’ll kickstart discussion about the event nice and early.

If your idea is too crazy for a legitimate venue it makes sense to run it as some kind of house party. A good house party will give you just as much organisational experience but will remain friendly and intimate (and will of course waive the hiring fee making it a lot cheaper).


Try not to clash with anything else - before committing to a date try to ask a diverse range of people if they have the date free to establish if it could be clashing with any sports or important cultural events.

Don’t be put off if a bigger event supersedes your one; keep making an effort so your event looks like a good alternative. Even if your happening is regarded as second best this could work in your favour, as there is no such thing as an event that everyone wants to take part in.

Relish being a comfortable target for rejects; you could even organise a theme that relates to the events you’re competing with! The effort you put in could give your event a friendly, thrown together aesthetic that could develop into a cult status.

Next time - promotion, health and safety - and the event itself!

More: How to...get into experiential marketing

How to... set up your own experiential agency

Comment below to let us know what you think.

For more in-depth and print-only features, showcases and interviews with world-leading brands, don't miss the next issue of Event magazine by subscribing here.

Have your say

Only registered users may comment. Sign in now or register for free.

Follow us

Latest Event Jobs

Venue Search

close this