CHAPTER 4. IMPROVING YOUR COMMITTEES EFFECTIVENESS:
14. Events and Activities
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare they are difficult.” — Seneca
Once you have the basic structure of YALDA set up, the next thing to do is hold meetings, plan projects, and get active. It is important not to wait until you have a large membership to start holding these events and embarking on the activities; some people are attracted to organizations that they see are actually doing something to engage them rather than just holding information sessions. These events and activities can also be a way to help increase your membership, but most importantly keep them enthused with YALDA.
YALDA sponsored events and activities are the lifeblood of the organization. These events and activities are meant to help each branch carry out the YALDA mission and purpose. When you plan an event or an activity, the following goals and objectives (taken from the YALDA 2006 Conference Proposal) could help you plan accordingly:
- To raise awareness of young people’s critical role in African development
- To create a forum where students and youth can come together with leading professionals from a multitude of fields and sectors—who also serve as positive role models—to engage in productive dialogue around their common interests and related issues around development
- To facilitate learning by giving students the opportunity to share their personal perspectives on development, as well as listen to and get feedback from their peers and professionals
- To foster respect, appreciation and a spirit of collaboration between young people of diverse backgrounds.
- To generate inspiration, perspective, and manpower for the innovative projects and diverse career goals of the young generation
- To raise the level of debate and action around Africa’s development crisis particularly around the role of the youth
- To create an understanding, by showcasing youth projects and other endeavors, showing that there can be solutions to the crisis
- To facilitate, develop, and train young leaders to improve their positive leadership skills
- To equip youth with practical skills and necessary resources that will aid them in their future endeavors – be it starting their own project or improving their entrepreneurial skills
- To empower youth and give them the guidance necessary to effectively share the trainings, information, knowledge and skills they acquire with other youth in their respective schools, countries and communities.
- To develop and plan ground-breaking solutions to trenchant development problems, through partnerships between youth, their peers and professionals
- Increasing knowledge on Africa and African Development Increasing members knowledge on the different African countries history, politics, culture and socio-economic status (especially those countries where there are currently YALDA branches). Helping members acquire the relevant information on what development means to different people (Professors, students, governments etc), Africa’s development problems and proposed solutions, particularly focusing on youth and the African Youth Charter. YALDA Monthly Webinars YALDA Harvard hosts monthly webinars with the assistance of all other branches. Branches have been working on securing renowned speakers from around the world in though-provoking and focused monthly International WebConferences. These conferences enable discussions on pertinent African development issues and topics. Some of these have included reasons for the failure of International in African Development and Narcotics Trafficking and its Role in Fueling Terrorism and Instability in Africa. Not only do these webinars serve as a forum to discuss challenges and solutions for Africa but participants are also able to hear expert opinions and ask questions.
- Facilitating the Brain Gain (through Career and Volunteer Opportunities) Encouraging and providing members with information through networking sessions, info-sessions, workshops etc on the different volunteering and job opportunities on the continent (including introducing them to the relevant career guidance officers on campus, companies and NGOs etc). Actively engaging in and introducing members to prominent and leading professionals who will guide them and act as their positive role models.
- Gaining Critical Leadership Skills Ensuring that members gain and improve their leadership and problem-solving skills, by hosting various leadership and entrepreneurial training workshops, including motivational and inspirational ones.
- Building a Strong and Committed YALDA Community Promoting YALDA solidarity by creating noticeable YALDA team-spirit and passionate and motivated individuals, through various team-building events and activities, such as through games, socials, etc.
- Keeping your target area(s) and goals and objectives in mind, you must decide what kind of event it will be (see suggestions below). You could even have a combination of the ideas below at one event, and then prepare the logistics:
- workshops and info sessions (done by YALDA or other organizations that you invite to come and present to or train your members)
- networking socials and similar events: cocktails, braai/barbeque, picnics, parties, catered dinners, snacks (wine and cheese) or banquets
- speaker series: one speaker or a panel of speakers throughout the year or only sometimes with a variety of speakers (conference style)
- documentary film screenings: on issues pertinent to African development and have a discussion afterwards, if with producer that would be great. Some screening have included Half the Sky and Poverty INC which is very popular and a must see for all YALDA members
- discussions: on a central question or theme where everyone gets a chance to speak their mind
- questions and answers: with your members asking experts or other youth
- teach in: conducted by YALDA, experts or other organizations
- cultural/talent showcases: showcasing diversity in Africa
- fundraising events: planned in conjunction with Fundraising Committee
- field trips: to sites of innovative development projects, visits to organizations and companies in different locations or to meet professional affiliates at their workplaces etc.
- Decide on the topics and/or theme for the event and decide speakers you want to contact and start contacting them. (See Appendix F for templates of letters).
- Prepare the logistics of the event:
- Booking a room on campus or another space
- Booking projectors and other technical equipment that your invited guests may need, if the equipment is available on your campus
- Advertising - Find out who to contact about the different advertising boards on campus and if you need to get permission to advertise or get your material stamped by the appropriate administrators so you can poster
- Where you can order other materials for the event, including snacks and food, or on or off-campus catering.
- Decide on the publicity for the event with the Publications and Publicity Committee:
- Posters (how many, where to print them, how much)
- Flyers (how many, where to print them, cost and distribution days)
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Instagram etc)
- Email lists
- Website postings
- Radio, Television or Newspapers (on or off-campus or both)
- Before the event start by delegating tasks (some suggestions, though depends on the type of event) to your committee members or volunteers and have a clear schedule for everyone:
- Designate a person to ensure that all committee members/volunteers are present.
- Make sure all technical equipment is there and accounted for
- Make sure food is there and ready
- Ensure room, speaker room (if needed), guests and audience are ready
- Have escorts, ushers and an MC (as needed)
- Have a person or two specifically to take care of all the speakers needs
- Designate a person to take minutes for the newsletter at the event
- Designate someone to blog and blast social media on occurrences
- Designate a photographer
- Decide whether or not to record the event on video, and if so by whom
- Invite media on and/or off-campus to the event if you want
- At the Event
- Make sure there are people on standby if anything comes up
- Make sure there is note sender (to MC, to speakers if they are going over allocated time—do not interrupt them vocally).
- Post event:
- Write an article about the event for your records, publicity and for YALDA international; include photos, publicity materials, etc.
- Write a report on the event including SWOT analysis
- Make sure to Thank ALL guest speakers (and any co-sponsors of the event) in a way that is appropriate in your country, some people like to receive hand-written Thank You cards maybe even little gifts.
INITIAL PLANNING STAGES
There are several kinds of events and activities (not including your general meetings) that you may wish to hold on your campus or in other locations. Events and activities can be as serious and/or as fun, as big and/or as small as you want them to be. It is important to always strike a balance between the two and always to keep the goals and objectives of the event in mind (please see above). It is also important when brainstorming ideas for events to also think about other groups that have similar goals and objectives on your campus or in your area that might be able to co-sponsor the event—depending on the nature of the event. YALDA also encourages that your branch also make itself available to co-sponsor events being held by other groups holding events that are inline with the YALDA’s goals and objectives.
You may choose to have one big annual or bi-annual event eg. a YALDA week once or twice a year, with different events everyday that address the YALDA target areas. You may also choose to have these events co-sponsored with other groups as mentioned earlier. You may want to call it, for example, “African Development Week” on your campus, and have it known as the YALDA event making sure it is highly publicized.. We recommend that even if you choose to have one major event, to keep on having other events during the year to keep your members active and engaged all the time.
SPECIFIC TARGET AREAS FOR EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
Below are the four themes or major target areas you should focus on when planning your events. You may choose to focus on one or more specific target area for the year or the semester, and how you choose to approach this is completely up to you.
However, YALDA requires that your events (even if you are focusing on a specific target area) cover all these identified target areas at least once in one school semester. You may also have an event that combines some of the target areas. For example you may choose to have a workshop on Gaining Critical Leadership Skills for Work in African Development; which would cover target area A. and C simultaneously.
PLANNING YOUR ACTUAL EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
Once you have clearly identified the target area, the goals and objectives for your event, it is now time to start brainstorming ideas and outlining a plan of action in order to make the event a reality. YALDA events could be members only, open to the greater student body, or the general population. Professional affiliates and partner organizations should also be invited to attend these events. As mentioned earlier, for all the events you plan, see if there are other groups on campus or in the community that would be excited at the prospect of co-sponsoring the event with you, this helps reduce your branch expenses and offers you more person-power. Following, are some ideas on different types of events and how to think about planning them. One of the first events you plan, however, should be the YALDA Launch Event; this may be planned accordingly at your university.