Organizing an Event

Purpose of event

By hosting an event or activity during Victims and Survivors of Crime Week you can:

  • Give a more effective voice to victims and survivors of crime and their families
  • Raise awareness about the important role victims and survivors of crime have in the criminal justice system
  • Call attention to the services and assistance available to victims and survivors of crime and their families in your community
  • Encourage idea-sharing and networking within your community and among victim support services
  • Celebrate and recognize those who support victims and survivors of crime and their families
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Raise funds for organizations that serve victims and survivors of crime

Types of events

First, determine your primary audience – who the event or activity is intended for. Next, decide what kind of event you want to organize and what its goals will be based on the Victims and Survivors of Crime Week theme. Some suggested events are below.

Support victims and survivors of crime

  • Host a candlelight vigil or march. Bring the community together with a memorial vigil for victims who have lost their lives and for family members of victims. Invite victims and survivors of crime when possible, their friends and families, the local community, dignitaries, politicians, victim service providers, and other community workers. Ask people to speak about their experiences.
  • Host a flag presentation. Present your organization's flag to the city or town, or present it (or the municipal, provincial, or Canadian flag) to families of those who have been victimized or have lost their lives to crime in the past year.
  • Dedicate an object or public space to victims and survivors of crime in your community. Create a memorial garden or dedicate new trees to victims and survivors of crime. The same can be done with a park bench or local landmark. If there is a new local building going up, propose dedicating its atrium or a design feature in the building to a victim or survivor of crime in your community.
  • Have a ceremony where a flag is flown at half-staff. On the first day of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, or on the day of the Week's most significant event, have your municipal government offices and local businesses fly their flags at half-staff in honour of victims and survivors.
  • Hold a moment of silence in schools or workplaces.
  • Set up a booth in a local mall, library or community centre where people tend to gather or pass by, and offer information about your organization and the services or resources you have available for victims and survivors of crime.

Recognize service providers and support networks

  • Host an appreciation event. Recognize individuals who support victims and survivors of crime with a pancake breakfast, potluck lunch or dinner, or in another meaningful way.
  • Hold an awards ceremony and present awards or letters of recognition to acknowledge efforts of long-serving volunteers and staff.
  • Host a training event for staff and/or volunteers.
  • Recognize staff or volunteers and their success stories of hard work in your weekly or monthly newsletter.

Raise awareness in your community

  • Develop a city or town proclamation to officially recognize Victims and Survivors of Crime Week. Request that municipal officials formally proclaim the Week through a launch event. Invite media, local personalities and politicians, police, businesses and organizations, members of the community, and victims, survivors and their families. See the sample proclamation.
  • Distribute small lapel ribbons to local businesses and organizations to hand out to the community. Tie commemorative ribbons to city lampposts, flagpoles, and trees (ensuring in advance that there are no regulations against this activity).
  • Organize a fundraiser for a new project. Pick a particular need for your organization or victims and survivors of crime in your area and use the Week to promote the need for funds to support it.
  • Have a petition blitz. Gain support for victim issues in your community or province by circulating petitions calling for improvements to legislation and to services for victims, survivors of crime and their families.
  • Ask local businesses to help you collect used cell phones. Donate them to local women's or youth shelters for use as emergency help lines.
  • Organize a campaign to recruit volunteers. Encourage people to join your organization, or ask them to refer victims and survivors of crime for service and assistance. Volunteers can be an important source of personal support for victims and survivors of crime.
  • Identify possible tie-in events, such as school, community and church fairs or conferences, and contact organizers about providing a speaker or an informational booth.
  • Organize an open house and invite local personalities and politicians, as well as the general public. Held in conjunction with a speaker or workshop presentation, this can be a valuable way to demonstrate the need for victim services.
  • Hold workshops. Provide free workshops for the community addressing victim issues that are particularly important to your region.
  • Conduct training during roll call. For those working within police services, roll call is a great opportunity to provide brief, daily training on victim issues. Deliver at least one training session focused on victim issues during Victims and Survivors of Crime Week.
  • Contact a local radio or television station about setting up an interview or a panel discussion on victim issues, possibly in a call-in format. Before contacting the station, speak to local victims and survivors of crime, victim service providers, politicians, or well-known community members who may want to participate in the interview or panel discussion. Once you confirm a list of people that are willing to participate, provide the list of suggested interviewees to the station.

Tips for a successful event

  • Start today. There is little time to spare when it comes to planning your Victims and Survivors of Crime Week event.
  • Recognize your organization's limits (time, money, energy) and plan an event that works in those limits.
  • Be mindful of the feelings of victims and their friends and families. Ensure participants feel comfortable with the events and the topics to be discussed. Set up panels and discussion groups thoughtfully. For example, some victims and survivors of crime may feel comfortable and confident in speaking with an offender on the same panel, while others may not. Take the time to ask for participants' input.
  • Delegate. Use the strengths of your committee, staff and volunteer base to build a strong team for your event.
  • Create an event budget and stick to it. Seek support from local businesses and consider working with other organizations on a similar event.
  • Ask guests to RSVP. If they don't respond, call to follow up.
  • Invite local reporters. Call your local TV and radio stations and newspapers to invite them to attend. List your event's important details (when, where, what time, who will attend, a contact name and number, and a few lines about your organization) in a media advisory and e-mail it to reporters who are interested. A sample media advisory is available here.
  • Make your event accessible to everyone in the community. Choose venues that are situated on the first floor or have ramps and accessible bathrooms.  Make your event interactive to encourage guests to participate. It is wonderful to have a large audience, but it is even better if you can get them involved in discussions, workshops, and other activities.
  • Understand your audience. A group of elementary-school children will require different activities than a group of adults. Use interactive visuals with younger people, but don't forget adults like to be engaged as well.

Planning your event

Every successful event requires detailed planning and careful organization. When tasks are broken down into simple steps, planning a successful event can become manageable for even the smallest community or organization.

Establish a planning committee

You should develop a planning committee, or join an existing committee to coordinate your event. It helps to compile a list of individuals and groups who might be interested in joining you. Once you have a group of people dedicated to the success of running an event, the rest of the planning should fall into place.


Broad-based partnerships are the best way to increase public awareness. Associate with other events and appropriate initiatives in your community, city, region or province as much as possible. There are numerous ways that two initiatives can complement one another. For instance, you may be able to focus on specific areas of concern that you share with other initiatives, such as dating violence, family violence or victimization of seniors.

Use local resources

There is a wealth of resources and volunteers in every community. The list may include groups and community members such as:

  • Victims and survivors of crime and their families
  • Representatives of the local police, and provincial and federal agencies involved in the criminal justice system
  • Local politicians
  • Victim services providers, health professionals, business and community associations
  • Places of worship and their communities
  • Local community groups, organizations and clubs
  • Restorative justice organizations or committees
  • Elementary and high schools, colleges and universities
  • Local chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Crime Stoppers, Neighbourhood Watch, and other groups with similar mandates
  • Correctional agencies in the area
  • Reporters and members of the news media
  • Local media outlets (television, radio, newspaper)

Try to include victims and survivors of crime or members of the community who have been personally affected by crime. Ask them for ideas on planning an event or invite them to participate on your organizing committee. For example, if your committee decides to develop a speakers' panel as one of its activities, ask if victims and survivors of crime would be willing to relate their experiences. Please note that matters before the courts should not be discussed by witnesses involved in the case. You may also contact local citizens who have written about crime and victim issues.

Tap into existing volunteer resources from community groups and organizations or religious networks. You could also contact the people who run local restorative justice, alternative justice or community justice programs in your community.

Crime often has a devastating effect on local businesses, so it is a good idea to focus some recruitment efforts at the business community. Meet with members of your local Chamber of Commerce and business improvement associations and encourage them to participate in your event. Offer to supply materials for their websites or newsletters, and invite them to share their perspectives on the economic impacts of crime.

Students in many provinces must perform a minimum number of hours of community service to graduate from high school. Consider recruiting students to develop, plan and organize events in their schools, or seek their input into potential community events.

Promoting your event

Another key to a successful event is getting the word out. Below are some ideas for promoting your event.

Social media and the Web

  • If you are not currently using social media, set up a personal account to increase your comfort level. Or contact another local organization that uses social media and ask them to promote your event. More information on using social media is available here.
  • Post information about Victims and Survivors of Crime Week and your event on your website, or contact community groups to promote Victims and Survivors of Crime Week and your event on their websites. Consider posting links to the Victims and Survivors of Crime Week website and to provincial/territorial victim services.

Traditional media

  • Market your event using local media, including television, radio and newspapers. See Working with the Media for more ideas on how to engage your local media.

Promotional Items

  • Display posters in public areas such as in front of the local police station, in community centres, at local stores, libraries or other public places. Create a poster or download one from the Promotional Materials.
  • Create flyers. Mail or hand them out in your local community. You can also give them to local businesses to give to customers and employees about Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, related events, and services available to victims and survivors of crime. These can also be used to recruit volunteers.
  • Create a unique promotional item. One community promoted their event by manufacturing placemats, which they distributed to local restaurants. The placemats contained information for adults on one side and child-friendly awareness-raising activities on the other side.
  • Work with local businesses to print messages related to the Week on their packaging. For example, one small community arranged to have contact information for victim services and facts about victimization printed on pizza boxes and distributed during the Week.

Sample timeline

Here is a sample timeline for planning your Victims and Survivors of Crime Week event. It can be used for any type of event you choose. It is always best to start as early as possible. Start today!

As soon as possible

  • Establish a planning committee.
  • Identify the goal of your event (e.g. to raise awareness or to recognize support workers).
  • Determine your primary audience.
  • Decide the theme of your event.
  • Identify the resources you have available (budget, volunteers, time).
  • Choose the kind of event you want to plan.
  • Choose the date and time for your event. It is important to consider when your primary audience would most like­ly be available to attend your event.
  • Decide on the number of people you will invite, and create an invitation list. This list should include special guests, speakers and the media as well as attendees.
  • Identify the location and book a facility if needed.
  • Book a caterer and decide on a menu (or assign food preparation and purchasing tasks to member(s) of your committee), if applicable.

Four weeks before

  • Order any materials, books or audiovisual and sound equipment you might require.
  • Prepare information kits for the media and special guests. These may include a formal invitation or a letter from your organizing committee, a request for the invitee to speak or a request for media coverage and the event's itinerary. For media kits, include logos your organization uses and short public service announcements to be used in print or on the air.
  • Print and distribute invitations, posters, flyers, pamphlets and other promotional items.
  • Recruit volunteers to help with miscellaneous items and to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Three weeks before

  • Follow up with speakers or local personalities to confirm participation.
  • Follow up with invitees to confirm attendance.
  • Confirm the event schedule with the organizing committee and volunteers.
  • Solicit local businesses to sponsor your event (e.g. by donating funds or prizes or by providing food for a meal). Some sponsorship items may also be used as certificates of recognition to thank speakers, outstanding victim support services workers, and community members.
  • Develop resources (e.g. a questionnaire or survey) to evaluate your event, where appropriate.

Two weeks before

  • Confirm schedule with the facility, caterer and any other businesses you have employed.
  • Provide speakers and participants with a final detailed itinerary.
  • Plan the physical layout for your event. Ensure the facility has whatever equipment you need to successfully host your event, such as chairs, a microphone and a podium. If the facility cannot provide them, look into getting them from a local business or rental company.
  • Collect awards and materials that have been offered by sponsors.

One week before

  • Confirm media attendance.
  • Assemble media kits and information packages to distribute on the day of the event.
  • Confirm all reservations, bookings, rentals, catering, etc. Be sure you have contact numbers for all of these businesses in case problems arise.
  • Delegate duties to volunteers and committee members for the day of the event.
  • Send out a media advisory to ensure that the media are aware of your event. A sample media advisory is available here.

One day before

  • If possible, set up the area that you have chosen for your event.
  • Confirm the duties of volunteers and committee members (what time they are to arrive, what they are to do, the responsibilities of each task, etc.).

On the day of your event

  • Arrive early to ensure everything is set up properly and that volunteers and committee members are prepared.
  • Greet speakers, guests and the media. If you are not able to do this yourself, assign the task to another person, but be sure to stop by and thank them for coming.
  • Brief all speakers on the agenda and any last-minute changes.
  • Send out a press release and/or a letter to the editor to ensure that the media are aware of your event, even if they choose not to attend. A sample press release is available here.
  • At this time, organizers may choose to hand out evaluation forms to participants in order to evaluate the success of the event and make suggestions for improvement of next year's events.

After your event

  • Be sure to send your guests, participants, sponsors and the media a thank-you note for their contribution.
  • Meet with the organizing committee to evaluate what went well and what should be changed for next time.
  • Depending on the type and/or size of your event, you may also want to ask participants to evaluate the event. Disseminate these evaluations and make changes to the process.
  • Start planning for the next Victims and Survivors of Crime Week event!

Conduct an evaluation once your event is finished. Determine what worked and what did not. Document your findings and share them with other groups that held events. Use the findings to begin to identify strategies and plan next year's events and activities.

Sample Proclamation

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week has attracted the attention of many municipal governments. Having a municipality proclaim the week to be "(Name of municipality) Victims and Survivors of Crime Week" will help promote awareness and raise the profile of the Week in your local community, regionally and nationally. Adapting this sample proclamation to your specific community and reflecting local victim issues and services will help gain attention from government officials, from the media, and from the general public. You can request that the proclamation be printed onto municipal letterhead. Most jurisdictions will already have standard proclamation formatting and language.

Sample Proclamation

WHEREAS, when a crime occurs, it doesn't affect just one person, but their family members and the entire community; and

WHEREAS, victims and survivors of crime and their families deserve support from their community; and

WHEREAS, many victim service providers, police officers, and professionals working in the criminal justice system provide assistance to victims and survivors of crime and their families; and

WHEREAS, victims and survivors of crime need to know that they have a voice in our criminal justice system and that there are laws in place to help them; and

WHEREAS, Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, May 28 to June 3, 2017 offers an opportunity to raise awareness about victim issues, and about the services and laws in place to help victims, survivors and their families; and

WHEREAS, the theme for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week - Empowering Resilience - will help to promote greater understanding of victim issues; and

WHEREAS, an increased awareness of issues faced by victims and survivors of crime will encourage citizens to discuss the impact of crime; and

WHEREAS, public demonstrations of support for victims and survivors of crime help to build a community's capacity for compassion to assist them and their families and the community as a whole; and

WHEREAS, addressing victim and survivor issues requires the support and dedication of the whole community; and

WHEREAS, the support of __________ [name of council or municipal body] will encourage a greater number of citizens to participate in Victims and Survivors of Crime Week; therefore be it

RESOLVED THAT I, __________ , [title] of the [municipality] of __________ , do hereby proclaim May 28 to June 3, 2017 as Victims and Survivors of Crime Week in the [municipality] of __________ ;

RESOLVED THAT during Victims and Survivors of Crime Week and throughout the year, [municipality] will recognize victims and survivors of crime and those who assist them and be it further

RESOLVED THAT [municipality] will remain committed to addressing and advancing the issues faced by victims and survivors of crime.

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