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Planning Guide

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Planning an event at Stanford can be an involved process. There are several requirements to be aware of before planning can begin.

Who can plan events at Stanford

Only officially recognized Stanford departments and organizations may plan and host events at Stanford.

Stanford Event Organizers must be one of the following:

  • Stanford academic departmentsschools and institutes
  • Administrative offices within and operating on behalf of the university
  • Non-academic departments recognized by the President's Office, such as Athletics
  • University student groups registered with and approved by Office of Student Engagement

Stanford Event Organizer cannot be:

  • Individual members of the Stanford community: faculty, staff or student body acting as individuals in providing their name to a group simply so that they can plan an event and use campus facilities
  • University individuals who wish to use of space for private events not related to university business
  • Individuals, groups or organizations (commercial or non-profit) who are unaffiliated with the university

Read the Stanford Event Organizer Requirements policy for more information.

General event planning steps

Step one - develop a plan

Goals and objectives

The goals and objectives of the event must align with the university's mission and relate directly to the educational goals of the organizing department. 


Budgeting is a critical part of the event planning process. It is important to develop an effective budget on which you can rely so appropriate decisions and adjustments, if necessary, can be made.

Before making a commitment to hold the event, examine the financial elements involved, considering all expense estimates and the funds you have on hand for this event. If there is a shortage of funds, revisit your expectations and determine whether you wish to scale down or change the overall approach. You may also wish to consider whether financial assistance can be obtained from other sources (e.g., ticketing or registration fees, and co-sponsorships with other Stanford departments).

Proposed budgets should also be submitted to your department chair and/or school dean, or director for initial review and approval before planning begins. To insure that the event can remain within budget, create a tool/spreadsheet for tracking all estimated costs.


It is important to consider the academic calendar when selecting the date. Events should not occur the week before or week of university final exams and Big 5 events or during university holidays and winter closure. Review the Limited Event Dates policy for specifics. 


Review the Event Policy Guide page for any policies that may apply to your event. Be sure to read and understand the relevant policies and contact our office if you have questions.

Step two - reserve a venue

Review the Venue Reservation page for information about how to reserve space on campus. If you are looking for a venue, our Venue Guide provides a listing of the most frequently requested venues with details about the space and reservation information. Also consider how current/future construction on campus may impact your venue choices. Please note: The Office of Special Events & Protocol (OSEP) does not reserve campus venues. 

Step three - submit work requests

Review the Venue Preparation and Clean-Up page for general information about work requests for custodial, PSSI, Grounds and Event Services.

Step four - event logistics and details

Review the following pages on our website for general information about each of the different aspects of event planning.

Planning tools and documents

Keeping organized is a critical part of event planning.  There are many tools and documents available that will help you with planning and staying on track for a successful event. If you have questions or need additional guidance, please contact our office.

Event planning checklist, task sheet, or production schedule

These types of planning documents are somewhat interchangable based on the size and complexity of the event. They may have a similar function and that is to identify the all of the tasks that need to be completed, who is responsible for each of them and their targeted completion dates. These tools are especially helpful if you have many varied elements, such as multiple venues, catering, parking, audio/visual, etc.

Event sheets and briefing documents

An event sheet is a complete story outlining every detail of the event include the planning, the resources, and the day of assignments. You'll include details like contact information for staff, volunteers and vendors, venue layout and information, ticketing and reserved seating details, security and parking/transportation, catering, staffing and more. It is more or less all of the relevant details for your event put into one place. An event briefing is more of a high level summary of your event. Briefing documents are generally prepared for sponsor(s) to share the purpose of the event, what you hope to accomplish and what resources are available. It may also include details about the marketing strategy, the target audience, various projections, background information and photos of participants and desired results.

Timelines and scripts

Timelines are a minute-by-minute guide for the actual event that is particularly helpful for participants, staff and technicians supporting the event. Scripts are a detailed document provided to speakers and/or performers to articulate their specific role in the event. It can include a speaker’s introductory remarks, event details of when and where the speaker needs to be, bios of other guests and where and with whom they are seated.

Maps and diagrams

Maps and diagrams provide information about items such as room set up, equipment placement, reserved seating, staff placement, sign placement, etc. These can be from a variety of available options such as an event services diagram created on Social Tables, a venue operations diagrams, Maps and Records provided resources or a diagram that you create on your computer. When planning an event first ask for existing diagrams and or maps for a particular venue and go from there.