One of the things people ask me from time to time is if I could help them put on a skateboarding event of some kind. Usually the request comes from a church or some youth organization that is typically looking to organize a skateboarding contest or jam to reach local kids. The ambition these folks have is great and I love that they want to hold an event that appeals to the interests of someone other than themselves. However, I obviously can’t help or even consult everyone who contacts me (especially as my ability to do things for free decreases) so I figured the next best thing to do would be to put together an article that would basically act as a free guide for putting on skateboarding events. I’ve structured this guide into three parts each covering the preparation, marketing, and execution of a skateboarding event. This is the first part in the guide.
Part 1: Goals, Resources, and a Budget
Set Some Goals
Before putting on any kind of event, it’s absolutely critical to set some realistic goals. These goals should be hard enough so you don’t “wing it” and put on a half-hearted event, but they need to be achievable as well. In the context of a skateboarding event, a common goal would be some attendance or sponsorship figures. For example, you could set your goal to get at least 300 people to attend the skate jam or you could aim to generate $5,000 in donations. Either way, a goal is important so you know what you’re working towards.
As a caveat to goals, it is important that you don’t just put on an event to exploit skateboarding to generate exposure for your organization. Skateboarders aren’t dumb and they see right through that sort of thing. If your goal is to leverage a skating event to promote yourself, you need to balance it by providing enough value for the people you’re trying to reach (i.e. prizes, promo items, free food, etc.)
What Are You Working With?
The next step is to take an honest assessment the resources you have at your disposal. I’ll never forget the time I was asked to be involved with a skating event in a small, southern Indiana town. I agreed to be involved, but when the day of the event came and I arrived at their venue, I was extremely disappointed with the discrepancy between what they told me they had in terms of resources and what I actually saw. They told me that they had acquired several ramps and a flat, smooth riding surface set aside for the event. When I arrived, I found that they had a few pieces of wood that were crudely nailed together and were a legitimate safety concern (not something I usually worry about). They had set everything up on an abandoned tennis court that had more cracks in it than a dried up lake. It really seemed like they didn’t put forth much effort and consequently, I felt a little used and that my time was wasted.
It’s not uncommon to have limited resources, I mean not every town has a world class skatepark, but it’s no excuse to misrepresent what you have at your disposal. The point is that you always need to call a spade a spade. If what you have to work with in terms of skateboarding ramps is a piece of crap, then call it a piece of crap. It’s okay! Do however, realize that the less you have in terms of good ramps, a skatepark, or a smooth, crack-free, gravel-free, riding surface, the harder it will be to put on a good event. You also have to realize that simply having someone in your church or organization build some ramps, almost always backfires. That’s because constructing skateboarding obstacles is not something that someone without years of experience with the sport can do. That leaves rentals as your other option, which can be very expensive.
How Much Money Are You Investing?
Finally, you need to make sure that your financial resources are adequate for reaching your goals.In other words, do you have a budget? Let’s say your goal is to get 500 people to attend your event and your event budget is $1,000. If you do some basic math, you’ll see that you have $2 to spend for each person. That means you have just $2 to use to promote the event to that person, provide them with a venue, feed them (if that’s part of your plan) and provide some of them with prize (if you’re doing a contest). That doesn’t include the other costs of an event like electricity, a sound system, or whatever else you might need. Generally speaking, if you aren’t able to spend at least $5 per person, you’d better have some great sponsors who can subsidize you or you should reconsider holding an event altogether.
Hopefully you’ve found part one of “How to Organize a Skateboarding Contest” to be helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to comment below. In the next part, I’ll be discussing the marketing of an event which you won’t want to miss. Stay tuned and feel free to check out some of my other articles too.