As past conveners can attest, it has been an honor to host a conference in one’s home city and minister to Unitarian Universalist women by offering this annual event. As most past conference committee members have spent many years enjoying the annual conference for themselves, the opportunity to ‘give back’ to SWUUW, and to give to their local community of women by bringing a conference to their home town has been a shared, rewarding experience. In addition, a majority of the profits from the conference are donated directly to the local charity of your choice. So, not only do you have the opportunity to minister to women in our communities, but also give service dollars to local charities in need.
How much work will this be?
Of course, this is often the first question, particularly for those that have never hosted a conference before. The SWUUW board’s very existence is in helping to guide and mentor each local Convener’s conference committee so that they are enabled to draw on a rich history of decades of conference planning. The local committee will have a wealth of resource and knowledge available to them through the SWUUW board. The chairperson (Convener) of the local conference committee will attend a monthly SWUUW conference call board meeting on Sunday evenings to answer any questions and help in the guidance of the conference planning.
What’s the timeline?
There is a flurry of activity early in the process. About 7-9 months prior to the event, your local team will decide upon a Keynote speaker, musical entertainment, date, theme, and location venue. Once the menu for the venue is discussed with the venue planners, and numbers of rooms needed are agreed upon, then contracts are to be sent to the Keynote speaker, musical entertainment, and a contract signed with the location venue. After the key elements are decided upon, a brief “save the date” flyer can be distributed and put on the SWUUW website. Then, the group can take a breather!
About six months prior to the date, letters go out to possible vendors and workshop leaders in your local area and the host committee begins to collect these proposals on workshops and a variety of vendor applications. The remaining slots available can then be filled in by vendors and workshop leaders from past conferences. Tee-shirt logos are created, a maiden program is discussed, and once all the information is gathered, a brochure is created for distribution. Then, the group can take another breather!
Although small issues to deal with will arise, the majority of the work will actually take place that last month prior to the conference. But by taking the load in segments, distributing it out amongst your local committee, and leaning on the SWUUW board for guidance, the job of Conference Convener is pain free!