How to Plan a Service Event

1. Be Intentional

Take some time to discuss with your group and determine what sort of project would be most meaningful. Here is helpful form for being intentional about your service.

  • What is the mission of your organization?
  • Why do you want to participate in service?
    • Is service an integral part of your organization’s mission? Is it because it is part of Marquette’s mission? Teambuilding? Getting to know Milwaukee? Personal interest?
  • Any areas of particular interest?
    • We love it when your organization can find links between your mission and a community issue. Is there a certain population that you would like to work with, such as immigrants or senior citizens? Is there an issue that are you are passionate about, such as food access or environmental issues?

      For example, if you’re a music group, why not advocate for arts education? If you care about the environment, how about volunteering at a park? If you are a group of all women, how about reaching out to a women’s center?
  • Realistically, how much time can we commit?
    • We are advocates for ongoing service because it offers a chance to build a relationship with the community, offer a greater impact, and is often a more meaningful experience.  However, be honest about what you can commit! Building relationships with agencies requires trust, and falling short of promises can damage trust.
  • Reflect on why or why not you should serve in a particular way (i.e. one-time service, long-term service, advocacy, and philanthropy)
    • Can your group provide volunteers weekly, even if each individual member only serves once a month?
  • Are you looking for a project you can complete on your own time? (Such as a supply drive, letter-writing campaign, assembling care packages, etc.)
  • Consider advocacy and indirect service- these fill important needs in our community! Even if you’re not working with clients directly, you can often arrange to learn about the agency or hear the perspective of clients.
  • Are there any other groups on campus that you could to partner with? Groups on other campuses?

2. Brainstorm options and contact agencies

Once you have some ideas about what you’re interested in, its time to find a partner! There are a few ways to search:

  • Use your own contacts. Has anyone in your group served at a local agency before? Ask around for suggestions.
  • Use the United Way's website to browse agencies and opportunities
  • Read our bi-weekly newsletter! Sign up by emailing
  • Sign up for a one-on-one Peer Advising appointment

Questions to discuss with the agency:

  • Length of event – One-time or ongoing?
  • Number of Volunteers – How many volunteers do you expect to participate in the event? Does the agency have a minimum and/or maximum volunteer capacity?
  • Tasks – what sort of work would you be doing? (Make sure to be safe!)
  • Requirements - Sometimes when working with vulnerable populations, like youth, you will have to complete a background check.
  • Date and Time – Select a date and time that the event will take place.
  • Transportation  - How will volunteers get to the site? Will you walk to the site, take the city bus, or carpool?

Be Flexible! Volunteer Coordinators tend to be very busy and have to juggle multiple constituencies. Try to start by asking them what sorts of needs they have at the moment.  Although you should feel free to make suggestions, don’t be discouraged if your ideas aren’t a good fit. Work together with the agency to find a fit that works for both of you.


3. Plan

Create a Planning Timeline

Now that you have selected a service project, it is time to start planning for the event! Some projects may involve little planning while others may involve months of planning. Decide who will tackle each task and when it will be completed by.

Here are some factors to consider in your planning timeline:

  • Register your event on Marquee.
  • Promote your event: Will you send e-mails or distribute handouts? Post flyers? Promote the service event to members of your student organization or the entire campus community?
  • Register volunteers: How will volunteer register for the event? Try using the Form option on Marquette Involvement Link!
  • Arrange Transportation
  • Gather Materials: Obtain materials and complete necessary paperwork before the event. If there are any materials that you need for your service projects, such as tools or art supplies, be sure to obtain the supplies prior to the day of the event. Double-check that you’ve completed all forms that the agency requires.
  • Waivers: Registering your event on Marquette Involvement Link will trigger the creation of waivers, if necessary. Watch your email! Your site may also require additional waivers.

Create a Reflection Plan

Reflection is an important part of the service experience.  It helps participants process and learn from their experience. In addition, it gives us an opportunity to discuss how our service experiences have transformed our perspectives and will impact future actions. Develop a plan for reflection that includes both before and after serving.

Check out our guide to reflection


4. Engage in service and implement your reflection plan.

Take photos! (When/If it is appropriate)  If you’d like to include community members in photos, be sure to get permission, especially from parents of minors.


5. Share your service story!

Take to share your service experience with your advisor, the Office of Student Development, or the CCS PAs. We would love to hear about your experiences!

Need Help Planning Your Event? Contact the Center for Community Service Program Assistants.