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This page has notes on organising a CiviCon based on things that have worked well in the past and are key to a successful conference.

If you are involved in organizing a conference, please read feedback from previous conferences available at (when logged in with appropriate permissions) to ensure that we incorporate the many good improvements that people have suggested. Feel free to merge feedback from that form into appropriate conference organising guidance on this page.

Organising team

Some key characteristics / requirements of the organising team

  1. someone to act as co-ordinator, i.e. someone who can convene online meetings on a regular basis (once a month while it is far off, and once a week as we draw closer) have the overview, chase people on their areas, etc., and liaise with the core team. This probably adds up to a 1.5 to 2 week commitment between now and the conference
  2. clearly defined roles for organising the conference (we are pretty clear on what these are by now) so we can spread out work amongst people
  3. committed people in these roles (who get stuff done without being chased by the co-ordinator, etc.)
  4. an even spread of work amongst people who are organising the conference

The roles that I we need to fill are as follows (and please feel free to add or revise this based on previous civicon organising experience)

  • co-ordinator (1 person) - convene online meetings on a regular basis (once a month while it is far off, and once a week as we draw closer) have the overview, chase people on their areas, etc., and liaise with the core team. Also does venue liaison.
  • marketing (2 people)
    • website content - work with sessions and sponsors people to ensure website is full of compelling content / reasons to come to civicon, e.g. session teasers, testimonials from last year, etc.)
    • already familiar audience - produce series of marketing emails (can/should be based on website content) encourage people on our mailing list to come to CiviCon
    • wider / unfamiliar audience - send out suitable messages to wider audience like, local non profit media, local wordpress, joomla, drupal media, local tech media, etc. (again, this can/should be based on website content)
  • sessions (3 or 4 people)
    • session gathering - creates a solid framework (tracks etc.) for sessions, and ensures that we gather enough sessions from local users, implementers and developers
    • timetabling - puts sessions into a timetable
    • program handout w/ sponsor logos
    • speaker liason - ensures that speakers are well informed about the conference, have properly prepared their slides, have access to the resources they need to prepare
  • lightning talk co-ordinator (1 person) someone who is in charge of getting lightning talks together for the day 1 lightning talk session.
  • sponsorship (2 people)
    • two people to set appropriate sponsorship levels, find sponsors and look after sponsors
  • swag and on-site branding  (1 person) - ensure that we have appropriate onsite branding and swag for the conference (e.g. sponsor banner, name badges, tshirts, bags, stickers, badges, buttons, etc.)
  • sprint (2 people) - organise a venue for the post conference sprint
  • training (2 person) - prepare and deliver a training before the conference
  • party / reception (1 person) - venue, possibly snacks and drinks etc.
  • AV (1 person) - ensure that the AV needs are met, that we have people to record and process the sessions

On the day roles

On the days of the conference we also need

  • registration people
  • signage (programs for each room, directions to rooms if needed, conference banner(s), whiteboard for BOFs)
  • monitors for each room
  • video recording team
  • sponsor 'greeting' / make sure sponsor area is set up nicely
  • help desk 'staff' (maybe just during lunch / BOF slot)


The earlier we have things in place the better, since it allows more time for publicity, marketing and getting more people to the conference.

First thing to do it to assign roles and work out the timetable with deadlines, etc.  Exact times depend on how much time you have to organise the conference. Here are some guidelines.

Securing a venue is the first thing to do.  From experience this is hard to do less than 8 to 12 months in advance.

Getting the website and registration up and running early on is key since a lot of things depend on that.  It doesn't need to be finished in terms of content (we can / should add more as we go) but it does need to have 'stubs' for sessions, etc.

Once the site is up, the highest priorities are session gathering and marketing. Getting sessions (and session teasers before sessions are finalised) up and published on the website as early as possible is vital in getting attendees.

Sponsorship doesn't have such a huge deadline, though obviously good to get this fixed early.  We typically set the deadline for sponsors as 30 days before the conference in order to give us enough time to get swag and on-site branding.

Organising the training and sprints can happen largely independently of the conference, however, they should be included and marketed as part of the conference.

Suggested 2 day format

Day 1

  • keynote
  • 3 sessions in parallel
  • 3 sessions in parallel
  • lunch
  • lightning talks
  • 3 sessions in parallel
  • 3 sessions in parallel

Day 2

  • state of the project
  • 3 sessions in parallel
  • 3 sessions in parallel
  • lunch
  • BOF and closing session
  • 3 sessions in parallel
  • 3 sessions in parallel

A half-day partner's meeting the afternoon before or the morning after the conference is recommended.

A social event the evening before the first day is recommended.

A somewhat organized and announced area for people to go out to a set of restaurants / pubs is nice to have in the evening of Day 1.

Two day User and Admin training, and Dev training sessions have been scheduled generally before the CiviCon. 2017 experimented with having it after the CiviCon and overlapping with the sprint. This reduced the cost a bit, prevented trainers from participating in the sprint as fully, and allowed additional people to provide some of the training. On the whole, it's likely a good innovation to keep moving forward.

Registration and conference pack

We should have a printed conference schedule that includes a map of the facilities so people know where the rooms are and a brief outline of all the sessions. Should also include details of extra events, like the conference afterparty

We should also have name badges ready to go, though there is no need for them to completely assembled (since this takes a minute for each person to do, but a long time if one person has to do all of them!

Lightning talks

*** detail needed here ***

Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions

At the start of the conference there should be a board where people can write BOF session ideas that they would be preparerd to lead / facilitate.  It is important to make it clear that we want people who will lead these sessions since otherwise the board just turns into a brainstorming board we don't have any facilitators for the session.

After party

Details of which should appear in the conference pack and on the website.

Closing session

Topics include: How do we carry on the discussion / keep up the engagement, after the conference.


See this blog post:

conference packs:

 Venue requirements

See CiviCon Venue Requirements


We need signage for

  • All of the rooms
  • Welcome to the conference
  • Vendor area
  • Registration


Speakers need to be prepped so they are clear on the requirements to present high quality sessions.

  • Aucun

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