Events

Wombat events

Wombat Creative manages events that work towards achieving sustainability goals. We work on natural resource management, conservation, agriculture and community events to ensure that our clients have the impact they actually need. We’re not event managers pitching for rural and conservation work, we’re committed natural resource management and conservation workers who genuinely want to help you raise awareness and engage the right audience.

We’ve built quite a reputation in coordinating events in far-flung places – shipping in tent cities, sweeping out stud cattle arenas and managing multiple catering companies – all to get hundreds of delegates to events in regional and remote towns.

Can we help you? Contact mel@wombatcreative.com.au for more information about our work.

 

 

Rainforest and Reef Conservation Stories

Ninney Rise, Mission Beach | 3 – 5 July 2014

Overlooking the Great Barrier Reef, Ninney Rise is the heritage listed base from which John Busst organised Save The Reef and rainforest campaigns in the 1960s and 70s. It was a meeting place for campaigners, artists and scientists working to protect the Great Barrier Reef from oil drilling and other threats and for nominating large areas of rainforest to be protected as National Parks.

Friends of Ninney Rise are opening up this historic property for a special conference which celebrates the conservation stories of the region’s reefs and rainforests.

With speakers spanning decades of action and a unique mix of scientists, artists and campaigners, Rainforest and Reef Conservation Stories will run Thursday 3 through Saturday 5 July and numbers must be capped at 90.

A draft registration package is attached, along with a preliminary program. We’d love to welcome you to Ninney Rise in July and more information is available by contacting me at sam@wombatcreative.com.au.

Follow Friends of Ninney Rise on Facebook and Twitter.

Download the registration package and preliminary program here: Reef Rainforest Conservation Stories PROGRAM v1.0

 

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More free grant writing workshops | Mareeba, Georgetown, Normanton

Wombat Creative is bringing its grant writing workshops to Mareeba, Georgetown and Normanton thanks to the support of local organisations and grant funding. The workshops are highly interactive and delivered in plain English with one goal: to give you the confidence to write more grants and win more funds.

Mareeba, Monday 25 November, 8.30am – 1.30pm

Georgetown, Tuesday 26 November, 8.30am – 1.30pm

Normanton, Wednesday 27 November, 8.30am – 1.30pm

RSVP is essential. Light refreshments provided. Supported by Gambling Community Benefit Fund, Landcare Queensland and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group.

Participants should come armed with project ideas, specific grant funding application forms and guidelines or past applications written. This workshop is interactive – please come prepared to throw yourself into grant writing with gusto.

RSVP and more information: sam@wombatcreative.com.au.

 

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FREE grant writing workshops | Weipa and Cooktown

Wombat Creative is bringing its grant writing workshops to Weipa and Cooktown thanks to the support of local organisations and grant funding. The workshops are highly interactive and delivered in plain English with one goal: to give you the confidence to write more grants and win more funds.

Weipa, Tuesday 19 November, 8.30am – 1.30pm

Cooktown, Thursday 21 November, 8.30am – 1.30pm

RSVP is essential. Light refreshments provided. Supported by Gambling Community Benefit Fund, Landcare Queensland, Cook Shire Council, Cape York NRM and the Regional Landcare Facilitator.

Participants should come armed with project ideas, specific grant funding application forms and guidelines or past applications written. This workshop is interactive – please come prepared to throw yourself into grant writing with gusto.

RSVP and more information: sam@wombatcreative.com.au.

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Grow your Money

Our top 10 tips for running planet friendly events

 

So, you work in the environment or community development sector and you run events to help spread the message. But at the end of the day you’re standing in a room or a field and you’re looking at the waste – leftover food, piles of papers and plastic.

How do you reduce your footprint when running events? We’ve put together our top 10 tips.

 

  1. Choose a transport-friendly venue – that is, choose a venue that is centrally located to the largest number of delegates. Sometimes there’s a need to hold an event in rural and regional locations – in that case, explore ways to encourage carpooling and offer alternatives to flying.
  2. Consider alternative technology instead of flying speakers in from interstate or overseas. With webinars, skype and holographic performances becoming so popular, you don’t really need an expert in the flesh.
  3. Choose a venue that makes the most of natural lighting and passive heating / cooling. Ceiling fans are much more energy efficient than air conditioners and sometimes just being able to open windows and doors allows enough airflow to cool a room.
  4. Avoid printing promotional material and encourage your sponsors and partners to do the same.
  5. Do not offer disposable items – that means no plastic cups, no plastic cutlery or plates. Make sure you let the venue or caterers know too. If you have caterers who insist on disposables, put your foot down and make it a requirement that all disposable items be compostable
  6. Avoid plastic for packaging and food service – that includes plastic wrap. Plastic often crops up where you least expect it. We ordered 500 pens for an environment conference and they came in individual plastic sleeves. We were very embarrassed.
  7. Do not offer bottled water. Ask for jugs of water and glasses. If you’re running an outdoor event consider large water coolers and either asking people to bring their own cup (most people bring a water bottle to outdoor events anyway) or provide your delegates with a souvenir cup.
  8. Consider ticketing your social events so that you know exactly how many people are coming. When you charge a separate fee and people need to register for those events, you know exactly how many people to cater for, meaning less waste.
  9. While on the topic of catering, try to incorporate as much local produce as possible – often this will come down to your caterers, so be sure to let them know when you ask for quotes that this is your preference. Some people will stipulate a certain proportion of local or organic food across the meals catered.
  10. Compost and manually sort recycling wherever possible. There are permaculture groups and city farms who will take organic matter off your hands if you give them enough notice.

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2013 Queensland Landcare Conference

This annual event takes place in Warwick, 27 – 29 September, with the theme healthy habitats – profitable production. With 300 landcarers expected to descend on the southern Downs town, you can expect all sorts of landcarey goodness. Seven keynote speakers, including Australia’s first ever soil health advocate, Major General Michael Jeffery AO, along with more than 30 concurrent sessions, field trips, social functions and plenty of networking opportunities.

Wombat Creative is working with the hosts, Condamine Headwaters Landcare Group, to coordinate marketing and communication – ensuring they meet their registration goals, and to manage sponsorship.

Early bird registrations close 15 July and more information is available at www.tinyurl.com/qlc13 or by visiting the Facebook page: Queensland Landcare Conference.

 

 

 

Simple event management (on a shoestring)

Landcare, conservation and other community groups run a variety of events. From small weed removal activities for half a dozen volunteers through to field days for many dozen or large conventions for several hundred! But despite the variety of events, there are some basic event management guidelines that will help you piece it all together and perhaps delay the onset of grey hair. Perhaps!

In a nut-shell

There are basically two things you need to run a successful event.

  •  The first thing is a clear idea about the event or activity itself. For a conference this means capable speakers, good themes and strong content. For an on-ground activity this means a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve and the tools available for you to achieve it. This is what will make people come. And no amount of good marketing will convince them if you haven’t thought about the content of your event.
  • The second thing you need to run a successful event is the people. That means you need to think about your target audience and market accordingly.

Many groups get bogged down on the detail of events before they’ve even thought about what it is they want to do (take for example a landcare conference steering committee who discussed for 20 minutes the colour of the napkins for the gala dinner before they’d even decided on keynote speakers). These general tips will set you on the right path and hopefully ensure you get the important stuff right before focussing on the optional extras.

The basics

a)      Understand the purpose of your event

What is it that you’re trying to do? is it a PR activity? is it a genuine restoration effort? Do you really need volunteers and if so how many? What makes your event special – what sets it apart from other events?

Once you have clearly articulated the above you’ll be in a much better position to choose a location or venue, select speakers or activities, and market to the right people. Always remember to design your event with the right people in mind – that is, the people that you want to turn up.

b)      Early planning

Generally speaking, a conference for 250 people or more needs a good six to twelve months lead-in time and sometimes more. A field trip held locally and targeted at group members in a district will require at least eight weeks lead-in and preferably 12 to 16 weeks for effective planning and implementation. Some other general tips about early planning:

  • Develop a budget. Ask as many people as possible to cast their eyes over it to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Identify which products and services you need to access and work to have them donated locally. People are more likely to donate goods and services than they are to donate money.
  • Keep it simple and modest. If you haven’t run many events before, take things easy the first few times around. It’s easy for committees to come up with big, brassy ideas, but the reality is if you don’t have a well thought out event plan, with the appropriate resources then your event will likely fail.  Be conservative in your attendance estimates and income figures (if at all).
  • Keep your organising committee only as big as it needs to be. Allocate tasks / job areas and set concrete timelines, particularly in terms of logistics and promotion. Send regular reminders to committee members about what they’ve committed to achieve by certain dates. If timelines are followed for events, it usually means everything falls into place nicely.
  • Consider public liability insurance implications. At the very least, make sure your event is covered by existing policies and that those attending are covered as well.

c)       Location and risk assessment

Choosing a location for an on-ground project is easy – it’s right where the issue is occurring. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a people-friendly site. So be sure to undertake a risk assessment before the day – check for potential hazards, clearly sign-post emergency exits or meetings points and erect fencing if necessary.

Choosing a location or venue for an indoor event can be a little trickier. You need to realistically think about how many people will turn up and choose a venue with a realistic capacity. If you’ve never run a workshop in your small regional town before, setting your goal at 500 attendees and booking the town hall is probably unnecessary. It’s better to run a booked-out event for 20 people than to have 20 people rattling around in a massive venue.

Some other tips:

  • Notify neighbours of your event and when it finishes and give them a phone number to call if they have any issues.
  • Consider marking out areas for parking if people will be arriving by car and remember to fence of environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Before you finalise your venue or project site, consider whether you need any permits or licences to hold an event there or to undertake work on that particular site.
  • Also remember for onground projects you often need to consult with local Traditional Owners about the work being undertaken.
  • Consider the provision of amenities such as shade, shelter, drinking water and toilets. If you are expecting any attendees with disabilities or special physical requirements, talk to them before you choose a venue so you can ensure their needs are met.
  • Always, always have a plan B in case of inclement weather or medical emergencies.
  • Consider what special clothing and equipment participants need to bring with them for your particular site or venue and let them know in your promotional material.

d)      Content and run-sheet

The hardest thing about running a big event is getting everything to happen on time and as per the schedule. For onground events this is fairly easy – you need to have a clear start and end time and a general run sheet that tells you who needs to be where when. Consider who will greet people when they arrive? What time will people start to arrive? Who will brief them about the activities being undertaken? What time will meals or refreshments be served? Who will say a few words and wrap things up at the end of the day?

For larger events, developing content and your final run sheet can be quite complicated, particularly if you’re holding a conference with concurrent sessions. As a guide, for larger events, it is important to follow the above points – that is, have a clear idea of what it is you’re trying to achieve and who your target audience is. Then consider what speakers / topics will cater to that audience.

Also consider:

  • Who will MC and Chair sessions?
  • Do you need entertainment at social events?
  • Who will take care of catering? What catering facilities are available onsite?
  • Who will take care of handling waste and removing it from the site?
  • Contacting Traditional Owners regarding a welcome to Country
  • Responsible service of alcohol at social events
  • Will speaker presentations be available to attendees or will you record their talks?
  • Give people appropriate breaks and quality food. If you’re expecting people to sit indoors all day feed them low calorie, nutritious food. If they’re out in the field working, feed them food that will keep them going for the afternoon. As a rule, 30 minutes is needed for morning or afternoon tea breaks. If you want people to genuinely network consider 90 minutes for lunch.

Of course, if you are running a large event it is worth considering the engagement of a professional event manager. A dedicated event manager can save you much heartache in the long run, and might even save you money if they’re also responsible for seeking sponsorship or support.

e)      Timing

Before you commit to a time and date for your event, check for date clashes with similar events or even vastly different events taking place same location. Once you know your target audience you will be able to build a picture of suitable timing. If your audience is cane growers, it would be astute to hold your event at a time when growers are neither harvesting or planting. Similarly, if your target audience is Gen Y, it’s best to hold an event that doesn’t clash with exams or significant holidays or youth events (like music festivals).

f)       Marketing and promotion

Ensure all of your promotional material has consistent information about date, time, location and contact details. And that it includes information about the highlights of your event, clearly spelling out why someone would want to come along and what makes your event unique.

  • Tell everyone you know and ask them to tell others. Use all of your mailing lists, member details, friends and neighbouring groups. Use other community networks.
  • Develop a basic media strategy. Remember the media will be looking for a news angle. They don’t want to know that you’re having a field trip, but they do want to know that John Smith and his wife Beryl are opening up their property to 50 strangers this Saturday – pick an angle for each news release and follow up by offering photos and interviews.
  • Consider letterbox-dropping neighbours and asking local businesses to put up posters. And ensure that all of this promotional material contains the crucial details of date, time, location and a contact number or email address.

g)      On the day

We can’t stress enough the importance of being prepared with a comprehensive run-sheet that lets people know where they have to be and what they should be doing at any given time during your event. If you have a team of volunteers, it is crucial that they know what’s expected of them. Here are some other tips:

  • Prepare a contact list before the event and include all staff, emergency services and contractors who will be delivering or servicing your event during the day.  Include keynote speakers, volunteers and anyone else who is crucial to your event. Make sure the list is complete and make sure everyone who needs one gets a copy.
  • Ensure someone is in charge of meeting and greeting VIPs, keynote speakers, politicians or other significant attendees.
  • Make sure sponsors or funders are acknowledged appropriate onsite.
  • Delegate a photographer who captures significant elements of your event, or special people.
  • Before your guests arrive take a walk around the site or venue and make sure you know where everything is: lightswitches, toilets, exits and entry points, registration desks and telephone access.
  • Nominate a first aid officer and make sure they know how to contact emergency services.
  • Plan ahead for evaluation and how you will ask participants if your event has been worthwhile.
  • Test all of your equipment (especially electronic equipment, PAs and speakers) before participants arrive. If you’re delivering a powerpoint presentation, make sure it works before anyone shows up.
  • Offering gifts to speakers or special guests is appropriate, however gifts of alcohol are not (15% of Australians are considered ‘at risk’ drinkers). Try and source locally made gifts – they’ll be warmly accepted and are much more personal than a bottle of wine.
  • You may need to register attendees to be covered by insurance. Make sure you’ve checked and have the necessary paperwork.

h)      After your event

We’re usually so busy remembering how to relax after events that we forget there’s still work to be done. If you’ve done your planning, you can prepare for these tasks before your event finishes. But they are important, so plan ahead and everyone will be happy (and wonder how you got it all done).

  • Set aside some time to review the evaluations completed by attendees and to make recommendations for future events. (Bear in mind that comments like “there was too much to choose from” aren’t really criticisms at all).
  • Consider compiling a list of all media mentions of your event or activity and copying media clippings. This will be useful for engaging future sponsors or supporters or for reporting to funding bodies
  • Send thank you notes or acknowledgements to all speakers, sponsors, volunteers and others who helped make your event possible. Do it straight away (you could even have your thank you notes ready before your event takes place) as once your event is over these things often get overlooked.
  • Finalise your budget and make sure all outstanding invoices or debts are taken care of.

Talkin’ Soil Health in the WA Wheatbelt

Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management Inc is an independent community-based organisation leading natural resource management (NRM), endeavours within the Avon River Basin in WA.  Over the past six months we have been helping them to organise the Talkin’ Soil Health Conference to highlight innovations in soil management in the Wheatbelt.  The conference held over two days (26 and 27 March) in York was a huge success with over 200 participants from around the region, neighbouring regions and interstate.

As part of the event management we ensured that the right speakers were engaged, the marketing was in the right place at the right time with the right message, the intricate bits and pieces were taken care of and that all tasks were organised.  Wheatbelt NRM were stoked with the outcome and the feedback was fantastic.

We can’t take all the credit of course, Wheatbelt NRM were celebrating some fabulous programs that have engaged landholders in innovative soil management practices and having these landholders featured at the conference amongst key leading scientists built strong links between research and practice.

Our flare for keeping things as practical and hands-on as possible was reflected in the second day of workshops and with Melanie at the helm the two days ran very smoothly.  Contact us if you would like to talk about how you can make your next conference a huge success.

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Running a conference? 3 things you MUST get right

Delegates at gala dinner, 2011 Queensland Landcare Conference, Ayr.

I first got into event management because I’m one of those people who doesn’t learn at conferences. I just can’t. Network, yes. But learn, no. Some people can. They come away with reams and reams of notes and lots of ideas and inspiration for the year ahead. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people. So, I figured I may as well make myself useful and lend a helping hand at those events where I’d usually be sitting in the back of a lecture theatre trying to stay awake. And that’s how I started running events.

Since then, I’ve been involved in the event management process for maybe 20 major conferences and scores of smaller forums and workshop type functions. Usually, when we’re engaged as an event management (the industry would call us a PCO – professional conference organiser, but I don’t like that term), we report to a steering committee of some kind. That’s often what people get wrong from the beginning. They have a committee of people with all sorts of ideas about how they’ll be involved and no clear terms of reference for what they actually need to be doing.

In my experience, there are three things you MUST get right to run a successful conference. I’ll say now, that most of the events I run are related to land management, agriculture and conservation and very rarely happen in a capital city.

Set a realistic price for your audience
Many of the events we run are targeted at either not for profit community groups or people living and working in farming communities. That means registration price is crucial to actually getting good attendance. We’ve managed to run three day, all inclusive (yes, with three evening functions and field trip) events with a registration fee of $300 AUD. But if you don’t know what your ideal registration price is, it’s hard to build a realistic budget. Knowing exactly how much people will pay to attend your conference is important. Past pricing (if your event is an annual one) will give you an indication. So too will talking to your audience – and this is where your committee comes in. Ideally, your committee will be well connected to the audience you want to attract to this event. Your committee should be able to offer guidance here.  Once you have a realistic price set, you know exactly how much you have to raise in sponsorship and exactly how much you have available to pay speakers and special guests.   

Develop a program that meets your audience needs
Having an attractive program does not mean you need celebrities or high profile speakers. Both of which often cost a pretty penny to get to your event. However, when you know your audience, you know what they want to hear about. And that’s where an attractive program comes from. This is another role for your committee. Over the past 10 years, every committee I have worked for has suggested Tim Flannery as a keynote speaker. Tim Flannery will not necessarily bring our target audience to an event. So firstly, you must know who your target audience is. Secondly, you need to think very smartly about what will bring them to an event. What are the topical, controversial, poignant issues getting coverage through that audience? Who is doing innovative work in that space?

When you ask people what they most enjoy about conferences, many of them talk about the networking opportunities. So if you know that this is what your audience are after, make sure you acknowledge that in your programming. Having 45 minute lunch breaks where 300 people need to eat, drink and pee is not conducive to strong networking opportunities.

With the agriculture-related events we run, we find that most people involved in farming really like to hear from others involved in farming. If you haven’t allocated plenty of time for these sorts of presentations, you’ll miss out on that audience. But you know your audience better than anyone else. And you need to plan ahead for how you’ll pull your program together.

Communicate effectively about your event
There is no point having a low registration fee and an excellent program if you haven’t put thought into how you’ll tell people about your event. Your committee might be able to help a little here, but chances are, you might need external help. Even a professional conference organiser won’t help you reach your target audience (unless, like us, they’re connected to a specific industry). So, build your mailing lists early, form partnerships with like-minded organisations early and have a documented plan of attack for how you are going to communicate.

Of course, there are many other steps to running a smooth, successful event. But these three are the most critical. We’ve worked with committees who want to discuss theming for the conference dinner before we’ve talked about a keynote speaker. If you get your priorities right, the rest tends to fall into place.

Wombat Creative can assist with event planning or by providing a full event management service. We can also facilitate your own staff so that they learn how to manage events themselves and document an event management plan for them to roll out. You can contact us at sam@wombatcreative.com.au for more information about our work.

Coordinating Wildlife Queensland’s 50th anniversary celebrations

Wildlife Queensland is a genuine grassroots group, with a long and powerful history. We were honoured to be chosen as the consultant to help them plan for and manage their 50th anniversary celebrations throughout 2012. With a tiny budget, but lots of ideas, we worked with their staff, volunteers and board to plan long in advance of the anniversary.

We edited their 50th anniversary publication, coordinated a launch by the Governor of Queensland and brought together 200 of Queensland’s most passionate wildlife workers and researchers for a celebratory forum and dinner. We coordinated sponsorship, managed programming, arranged media, documented outcomes, coordinated reporting, managed committees and had lots of fun along the way. We wish we lived in a world that didn’t need organisations like Wildlife Queensland. And we genuinely hope the next 50 years brings more wildlife wins and worries.

If you’re planning similar celebrations and need a hand to get your thoughts together, find partners and deliver a meaningful event, you probably want to talk to us.