Trans Lifeline Host Manual

Table of Contents

Click on chapter titles to skip down to each section.

  1. Tips for Hosting Successful Events
  2. Event Ideas
  3. Event Planning and Timeline Tool
  4. Accessibility Checklist
  6. Additional Resources We Love

1. Tips for Hosting a Successful Event

Play to your strengths— You know your friends and community best. The most successful and fun events will make use of your unique interests, skills, and connections.

Plan far in advance— The larger the event, the further ahead of time you want to get all of your core logistics figured out (Who you’re inviting, What you’re hosting, and Where it will be hosted). Planning ahead reduces stress and expense, so do yourself a favor.

Get others involved— You don’t want to be the only one who attends the event, so why be the only one organizing it? You be less stressed out if people can share the responsibilities and tasks. At the same time you will likely have a better turn out because there will be more people to get the word out. In fact, if you can collaborate with people from communities or organizations other than your own, then the event will likely be more successful.

Ask businesses for in-kind donations— Reducing the cost of the event increases the amount of money that can go towards helping transgender people in crisis. If you want food, then ask local restaurant owners. If you are having a raffle, you can often ask businesses to donate tickets, products, or services.

Personally reach out to people— We all get a lot of impersonal invites to events both on Facebook and through other means. If you take the time to call or text someone, they are more likely to respond.

Don’t pick culturally appropriative themes— We strive to ensure that everyone feels respected by Trans Lifeline. If you do not belong to a cultural group, you should not host a party that involves dressing up or pretending to be another culture (ie. Chinese New Years, Cinco de Mayo, etc). If you are uncertain if the theme is offensive, then you should probably avoid it. If you’d like to understand more about cultural appropriation, check out these articles [links].

Make a direct ask— At the point in the event when you have most of the attendees in the room and they are having a good, it’s time to make an ask. Many people find it difficult to ask for money. However, direct asks always raise more than passive ones. People came to your event to support you and Trans Lifeline, so they are primed. If you are struggling, then check out these resources on asking for money [link].

2. Event Ideas

Crowd Funding

This may seem like the easiest, but it's definitely a case where you get out of it what you put into it. A good crowd funding campaign starts a couple months ahead of time. You need to get as many people involved in organizing it as possible. Then plan out how long it should be (probably 2-4 week), and come up with a social media campaign that will keep people engaged. Help each other out by prewriting posts, email templates, and creating social media content (photos, memes, videos, etc.) ahead of time. Don't forget that in-person methods will make you even more successful (making announcements at events, handing out flyers, talking to friends, etc.). When the campaign date comes, everyone involved should post and talk to people daily. Contact us ahead of time if you are hosting a crowdfunding campaign so that we can use our 501c3 status to get a better deal on the financial transaction fees. We do a lot of online fundraising so we can also help you with language on the campaign and some strategy,

Dance Party

Dance parties are a time tested method of raising money for LGBTQ people. If you have a larger organizing group (more than 4) or if you have connections to entertainers already, then try to get a private space that's not a bar so that you can host your own bar. Charging people less to get in but then hosting your own bar will ensure you raise a lot of money if your event is successful. On the other hand, there are legalities involved, and if no one comes to your event, then you will lose the money you spent on alcohol.

If you are a small group, then hosting a party at a bar will be much easier. You can usually make a deal with the bar to get proceeds from the entrance fee, and if you are a good negotiator, you can ask for a portion of the proceeds from the bar (10% is good). Bars host benefits all the time, so you may want to check out what they are already hosting to find a bar that has a history of being LGBTQ-friendly.

Both events will need the following: A door person who takes money, a sound system, a DJ (multiple is preferable), a performer (optional but it ads a flare and if that performer has a following then you have a broader audience), decorations (optional), drinks (don't forget people who don't drink), food (optional but at least something to snack on is ideal)

Trivia Tournament

Pick a night and host a tournament for teams to compete in. Get people you know to sign up to head the teams. Depending on who you are maybe these will be leaders from other student organizations, community groups, or departments. Charge an entrance fee for competitor, as well as admission for the audience. You can make up your own rules for the event, but it will need some structure.

Ask yourself: How many rounds should we have? How many students should there be per team? What topics will the trivia cover? How will students answer the questions? Who will write the questions? How will the questions be recited? There’s tons of flexibility with how you run your tournament. Make it more strategy-based by having team members compete in different categories. Or, keep the categories secret and have the teammates work in unison to answer.

Depending on the size of the tournament, you might need to do qualifying and preliminary rounds in the weeks leading up the main event, reserving that day for something like the quarters through the finals. Get rewards donated for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Artists Auction

If you know artist, make an auction consisting of work donated by them. It can be virtual or in person. If you do it virtually, calculate in the cost of shipping! Large, award, heavy, or fragile pieces will be expensive to ship or may be damage (or both). The benefit of an in person event is always that there's socializing and you can have a bar. which will help raise money. The event will foster relationships between local artists, showcase new talents, and teach the public about what’s happening right in their backyards. You may even be able to team up with a local arts non profit, gallery, or DIY venue.

Curate the event and display the pieces like you would any new exhibit. Invite members of the community. Artists can even help promote the auction themselves. At the auction itself, highlight the artists’ stories when discussing each piece of art. People will be more inclined to bid if they feel connected to the work. Have people from your group on hand to offer advice and thoughtful discussion of the work on display. You want the evening to appeal to people who are familiar with art and those who aren't.

Casino Night

Gambling for good. It has a nice ring to it. This is option works better if your audience has more disposable income. The night itself can consist of: a catered dinner, blackjack tables, poker tables, rented slot machines, an auction (live or silent, gambler’s choice), and/or a raffle. Make sure that every ticket holder gets a set amount of chips, and then sell extra hips in exchange for donations throughout the night. Secure a small group of prizes for the attendees with the biggest winnings for the night.

The night can be formal or casual depending on the attendees that you want to attract. If this fundraiser needs to draw money from higher level donor, you can go black tie. However, if you want this to largely be a social fundraiser, then keep it casual and go with a quirky theme instead. Make sure you know people who are well verse in these games to deal or you can even hire professional dealers for your card tables. Find the financial balance that works for your audience (see having a budget).

3. Event Planning & Timeline Tool

Because every event is different, not all of these steps will not fit every event. However, they are intended to help you think through steps that will enhance your event at each stage and be more organized about how you approach it. Also, note that the timeline really depend on how much time you want to put into it. As always, take what makes sense for you and leave what doesn’t.

High Level Planning (3-4 month)*

  • Establish event goals and objectives
  • Select date
  • Identify venue and negotiate details
  • Develop Event Master Plan
  • Get cost estimates (e.g., room rental, food & beverages, equipment, speaker fees, travel, etc.) and create a budget
  • Recruit event committee, event manager or chair and establish sub-committee chairs
  • Create and launch publicity plan & brand your event (ensure staff and/or volunteers are identified to manage specific tasks – e.g., media relations, VIP coordination, printed material design & printing coordination, signage, online /social media, etc.)
  • Identify and confirm speakers/presenters/entertainers
  • Identify and contact sponsors/partners

*start your planning as early as possible.

2-3 Months Ahead of Event


  • Get bio information, photo
  • Travel & accommodation arrangements
  • Have contracts signed if appropriate, etc.


  • Set up/enable online registration
  • Follow up with potential sponsors
  • Identify items to be donated


  • Investigate need for any special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
  • Determine and arrange all details re menu, A/V equipment, registration set-up, parking, signage, etc.
  • Review security needs/plan for the event with venue manager


  • Develop draft program
  • Create draft event script (e.g., MC, speaker introductions, thanks, closing, etc.)
  • Develop publicity pieces to spread the word. You can often get in the paper’s calendar of events for free. To get a broader audience, consider press release, newsletter articles, ads, radio spots, print, blog posts, op-eds about related topics mentioning the event, etc.
  • Request logos from corporate sponsors for online and printed materials
  • Develop and produce invitations, programs, posters, tickets, etc.
  • Develop media list & prepare News Release, Media Advisory, Backgrounder and all media kit materials (e.g., speaker info, photos, etc.)
  • Make Facebook event and/or Eventbrite and share it with the Trans Lifeline!
  • Develop a promo video and post on YouTube and your Facebook page
  • Register your event on a variety of online event calendars
  • Create some buzz on your blog or member forums
  • If there is going to be a VIP section, figure out what makes it special (special access to entertainers, free gifts, special food, etc.)

2 months prior to event

  • Send reminders to contact list if people have RSVP’d
  • Sponsorship: Follow up to confirm sponsorships and underwriting


  • Release press announcements about keynote speakers, celebrities, VIPs attending, honourees, etc.
  • Post your initial event news release on Facebook and circulate to all partners, affiliated organizations, etc.

1 week ahead

  • Event Organizers will meet and confirm all details against Master Plan – and ensure back-up plans are developed for any situation (e.g., back-up volunteers as VIP greeters, additional volunteers for registration or set-up, etc.)
  • Finalize event script
  • Brief any/all hosts, greeters, volunteers about their event duties and timelines
  • Final seating plan, place cards, etc.
  • Provide final registration numbers to caterers
  • Make print and online copies of any speeches, videos, presentations, etc.
  • Final registration check, name badges & registration list
  • Determine photo op and interview opportunities with any presenters, VIPs etc. and confirm details with interviewee and media

1 day ahead

  • Confirm media attending
  • Ensure all signage is in place
  • Ensure registration and media tables are prepared and stocked with necessary items (e.g., blank name badges, paper, pens, tape, stapler, etc.)
  • Ensure all promo items, gifts, posters, banners, etc. are on-site

Event day

  • Ensure you have copies of all instructions, directions, phone numbers, keys, extra parking permits for VIP guests, seating charts and guest lists with you
  • Check-in with all volunteers
  • Event Organizers ensure the event is on track
  • Have Fun!

Immediately following event

  • Financial status: Figure out how much you raised. Gather all receipts and pay anyone out who needs to be reimbursed. Send us the final totals! We will send you back details on how to get us the money and .make an announcement on Facebook. After we get the money, we'll send you out shirts for the organizing team (up to 4 for free and at cost for any additional ones) and swag.
  • Follow up communication: Send us the contact info of the people who attended your event! We want to make contact with them within a week and invite them into our community of supporters.
  • Send thank-you’s and acknowledgement letters to people who helped make this possible:
    • Sponsors
    • Volunteers
    • Entertainers
    • Donors
    • the Media

your thank-you notes, be sure to remind the recipients of the event’s success – and how they contributed (e.g., dollars raised, awareness - number of participants, etc.).

4. Accessibility Checklist

We strive to make our events as inclusive as possible. We understand that not all of these suggestions are an option for every event. This list is to help you gauge how accessible your event is and to strategize about how to help people feel included.


  • ____ Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
  • ____ If the venue is wheelchair accessible, then have we noted that on Facebook events and flyers?
  • ____ If the venue is NOT, then have we noted that on Facebook events and flyers?
  • ____ Does the event planning team have people represented from the various communities we hope will come to the event?
  • ____ Have we listed contact information so that people with accessibility concerns can reach us?
  • ____ Does our venue have gender neutral bathrooms?
  • ____ If not, then can we change the bathrooms to be gender neutral during the event?
  • ____ Are people of all ages allowed at the venue?
  • ____ If the event is age restricted (ie. 21+), then have we noted that on Facebook events and flyers?

Performances & Programs

  • ____ Is there American Sign Language, Spanish, or other translation available?
  • ____ Can people sit who need to?
  • ____ Are the performers representative of the broader community?
  • ____ Are there options for sliding scale donations in case people can’t afford the whole price?


  • ____ Have I advertised in more than one way (ie. Emails, Texts, Facebook, and making an announcement in person at an event)?
  • ____ If it is a public event, have I reached out to people beyond my immediate friend circle (ie. posting flyers, posting event in Facebook groups that are thematically relevant, announcing your event at another event, etc.)?


6. Additional Resources We Love