Teaching Event Planning at the University of Iowa

Within our work in the event planning industry, one of the things that we are passionate about at Soirée is giving back to the community. Whether we’re donating some fresh flowers to a nursing home or going the extra mile for a client, it all makes what we do every day worth it. Here is a note from owner, Emily McMahon, about her work as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Iowa teaching in the Event Planning Certificate program.

“Event planning is one of those skills that can help someone in a ton of different industries and careers. I simply love being able to share my stories & experiences from the past nine years of event planning with others to help them with their journey. As a reflective exercise, I spent some time tonight quantifying some of the impact that I’ve had working with students the past few semesters at the University of Iowa. I pulled the numbers from past events such as attendance, funds raised, and ticket sales. It is really awesome to look back and see the impact the students had on the organizations and the community. Check out what the students were able to accomplish!”


Fall 2016 – Event Planning Workshop (2 events)

  • Take A Kid Outdoors held the first the “Jingle Bell Trot” – a 5K fun run to raise awareness and fundraise for the organization. Judy and the student event planners put together the event which had around 150 attendees and they raised $3,139 before expenses (netting $1,479 in profit). The decor, DJ music, trail luminaries, cookie decorating, letter writing to Santa, and photos with a live Santa Claus were a huge hit with families. The organization has continued this event for this winter as well.
  • The Friends of the Animal Center Foundation held fundraiser at Cedar Ridge Winery called “Whiskers, Wine, and Whiskey“. The goals of the event were to fundraise for the organization. The client, Christina, and her student group raised about $5,060 before expenses. This was $1750 in sponsorship funds, $2,500 in ticket sales, and $810 in raffle tickets. There were about 100 guests in attendance and overall the event was considered a big success.

Spring 2017 – Event Planning Workshop (6 events)

  • 4-H Family Fun Night was an event held at the YMCA in Marion, IA. Their goal was to have at least 30-40 people attend, and the event drew well over 100 people. With a beachy theme, they had family-friendly activities, food, and music for their guests to enjoy.
  • 4-H also worked with us for this first ever 3D Archery Tournament. The goals of the event were to generate funds for 4-H and raise awareness of their programming. The event raised $800 and was well attended despite a rainy and cold day.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association: East Central Iowa Chapter worked well with our group of student event planners to do the Why We Walk – Iowa City Walk to End Alzheimer’s Dinner at the American Legion in Iowa City. Their event goals included raising awareness of the walk itself and had a secondary goal of fundraising. They blew away their goals by netting over $1,300 in funds through sponsors, ticket sales, and night-of donations. It was super successful, and I’m particularly proud of how well this group worked together.
  • The student event planners worked with the non-profit Siblings Empowered for their organization’s kick-off event which was to generate awareness of the mission to help the siblings of those children affected by life’s adversities such as cancer. “Sunset Yoga” was held at City Park in Iowa City, and had about 30-40 attendees. They had about 10 in-kind sponsors.
  • Buddy’s Bowl, a start up company hoping for awareness & investors in their dog-food truck, worked with student event planners to put on “Yappy Hour: Let’s Paw-ty“. The company’s launch event drew a ton of attendees who either came for the specific event or were just enjoying the wonderful weather at the off-leash dog park in Iowa City. They raised about $200 after paying all expenses and the clients were quite happy with the overall event.
  • The Arc of Southeast Iowa held a 60th Birthday Party to celebrate the organization’s 60 years of being in existence. The goal of the event was to raise awareness of the non-profit and drum up new donors. There were about 50 people in attendance over the course of the event, and they raised about $500.

Fall 2017 – Private Event Planning (3 events) 

These events are coming up soon, so I’ll update this post as they happen!