Planning good programs is one of the biggest challenges of any Hillel, but for Soref campuses, successful programs are extremely important. A great program can help you raise funds, gain visibility on campus, and inspire new members into sticking around. While there are lots of programs on the Small and Mighty website, as well as the main Hillel website, the bulk of the programs you plan this year will be ones you and your board designed all by yourselves. The experts here at Soref have put together a guide of Programming Pointers to help you create programs that are both innovative and successful.
Start Small: Not every program has to be a major blowout event; in fact, some of the best programs are those that are low-key and simple. Shabbat dinners are an example of an easy program without a lot of complicated parts, all you need is a challah, some grape juice and candles and you’ve got a night everyone will love. Once you’ve got the basics down, and then start adding your own touches to make the event unique to your campus.
Helpful Holidays: The Jewish holidays can be the perfect inspiration for Hillel events. Use familiar observances such as a Break-the-Fast dinner after Yom Kippur or a Chanukah party to bring Jewish students back to their roots. Holiday events can range from religiously charged to entirely social or a balanced mix of both according to your preference.
Team Up: Today’s Jewish students are more involved than ever in social causes that are important not only to the Jewish world, but to the global community. Get the word out about the causes that are important to you and your Hillel by planning programs in cooperation with other on-Campus and off-Campus organizations that are interested in the same things.
Divide and Conquer: One person can’t do it all so try and incorporate as many people into the planning process as you can and then give them leadership roles accordingly. Put one person in charge of the shopping, another in charge of the setup team, and another in charge of printing flyers and other publicity. Not only does it take the pressure off of any one Hillel leader, but it helps keep members involved.
Spread the Word: What’s the point of planning a great event if no one even knows to show up?! The difference between amazing programs and just so-so programs can often be traced back to publicity. Good publicity doesn’t mean it has to be expensive either, taking the time to paint a poster or print out flyers and put them up in a visible part of campus can be just the thing to attract people to your events.
Quality, Not Quantity: Resist the tendency to plan a major program every week, and limit yourself to just the amount of programs you can reasonably plan and implement. It’s easy to find yourself burnt out by an overly demanding schedule and having less programs often seems counterintuitive to the goal of an expanding Hillel. In reality, having a few great programs can be even more effective than having lots of little ones.
Have Fun: Once you get a great program idea in your head, it can be exhilarating to see that idea go from your imagination to an actual event. Enjoy the process, and share your successes with your fellow Soref campus leaders by posting your programs on the “Small and Mighty” Facebook group and the Mighty Blog.