’s Guide to Planning Awareness Day Activities

The following guide can help you plan for Awareness Day events, activities, and outreach.

Considerations as You Start

Before you begin your event planning, here are a few things to consider:

How does the Awareness Day fit into your overall mission?
Awareness Day events can require a significant amount of effort (such as staff time and resources). It is important to be able to describe specifically how the Awareness Day aligns with your organization’s mission and what outcomes you can achieve from an event. Whether or not your organization decides to host an event, it is useful to consider partnering with other HIV organizations and like-minded organizations beyond the HIV community.

When should you host an event vs. support another organization’s event?
You may want to host your own event if:

  • You are the lead organization for the Awareness Day.
  • The topic is a central part of your organization’s primary mission.
  • Your organization has subject-matter experts who can speak knowledgeably about the topic.
  • Your organization has existing outreach communication channels that you can leverage during the event.

You may rather support another organization’s event if:

  • The topic is not a central part of your organization’s mission.
  • Your organization does not have subject-matter experts who can speak knowledgeably about the topic.
  • Your organization does not have the fiscal resources or actively use outreach communication channels that you can leverage during the event.
  • Your communication plan requires focusing on other activities and messages during the period you would need to be planning or hosting an event.

What does success look like?
Defining success before an event is an important way to assess your outcomes. Some examples of success measures include:

  • Number of HIV tests administered
  • Increased patient visits (e.g., patient appointments made)
  • Increased visibility for your organization (e.g., social media metrics, website metrics)
  • Strengthened partner relationships (e.g., new partnerships formed, number and depth of partner collaborations)

What resources are available to help you achieve success?
These resources can include both internal resources and those available through partnerships. Examples:

  • Website(s)
  • Email lists/newsletters
  • Social media channels
  • Traditional media contacts
  • Graphics production
  • Video production
  • Social media expertise
  • Experience/expertise with event planning and evaluation
  • Notable individuals/spokespersons; board and consumer advisory board members
  • Staff, volunteers, and interns engaged in past events and special projects
  • Fiscal resources
  • Toolkit from the national lead organization(s) for the Awareness Day. See each Awareness Day page on for links to available kits.

Planning Phase

In developing your plans for your observance activities, here are some considerations:

Planning Activities

  • Identify your primary call to action. What do you want people to do? Examples include:
    • Attend an event
    • Find a testing location
    • Take an HIV test, get in care, and stay in care
    • Make an appointment
    • Share their stories
    • Show their support for your mission and for people affected by HIV/AIDS
    • Watch a video
    • Read more information
  • Check to see if there are similar or overlapping events around the same time, to avoid having to compete with other activities that might draw your target audience(s) away.
  • Consider using the national theme and communication resources rather than reinventing the wheel.
  • Choose the type of event or activity you plan to do based on the outcome you are hoping to achieve. For example, if you want people to know their status, consider holding an HIV testing event. Some ideas for events include:
    • Public forum or town hall meeting on local impact
    • Essay contest
    • News conference
    • Visit to a local HIV/AIDS service organization or open house
    • Proclamation
    • Cultural or faith-based events with speakers
    • Editorial
    • Public service announcements (PSAs) or media campaigns
    • Health fair with HIV testing
    • Award ceremony
  • Develop a project plan with goals, success measures, roles and responsibilities, and due dates.
  • Design and develop all supporting materials, which may include:
    • Website content and graphics
    • Social media content and graphics
    • Email content and graphics
    • Printed materials for distribution
    • Partner outreach materials
  • Create an editorial calendar that shows deadlines for creating and publishing all materials to keep your organization on track.
  • Draft a set of key messages and get approval from your leadership or partners if necessary. These messages will include text that you and your partners can use across various channels and communication products.
  • Logistics considerations:
    • What venues are available to your organization and your partners?
    • Book space and vendors early!
    • What equipment do you need? Who can provide equipment and when is it available?
  • Plan an HIV testing or awareness event:
    • Before planning an event, review CDC’s guidance for HIV testing in nonclinical settings.
    • Hosting an HIV testing event may require special considerations to ensure everyone follows appropriate privacy and clinical protocols.
    • If another organization is providing the testing services, you may need to book their services early and discuss clinical/privacy protocols in advance.
    • If you are offering on-site HIV testing (e.g., at a health fair), how can you increase the perceived potential value to reluctant attendees?  

Partnership Activities

  • Identify relevant partners:
    • HIV/AIDS service organizations
    • Community-based organizations
    • Local health departments
    • Local colleges
    • Digital/online partners
  • Consider involving nontraditional partners, like universities, clubs, or businesses. Your selection of partners will depend on your existing network.
  • Determine when/how to meet with partners to agree on roles and responsibilities:
    • Outreach messaging (coordinated via editorial calendar)
    • Communication channels to be used
    • Images, hashtags, and other event materials

Communication & Outreach Activities

  • Identify which channels you want to use to reach your target audience. Make sure you use data about your target audience(s) and the communication tools they use in their daily lives to inform your selection.
    • Owned Media (This is content you fully control.)
      • Website
      • Blog
      • Social media
      • Email (newsletters)
      • In-person locations and/or pre-events
    • Earned Media (This is exposure you receive via word-of-mouth marketing.)
      • Promotion by partner organizations
      • Interviews with local media and/or bloggers
      • Cross-posts of your blogs and other social media content by your partners
      • Local event calendars
    • Paid Media (This is exposure you receive through paid advertising.)
      • Search advertising
      • Social media advertising (sometimes called “campaigns” or “boosting”)

Implementation Phase

Communication and digital outreach about the Awareness Day can extend your reach to attendees, future clients, partners, and other stakeholders. Here are some communication resources that you and your partners can tap to support your event. Links to resources with additional information are included below, and a recent video provides helpful tips for social media planning.

On the day of your event, your tasks will naturally depend on the activities you have planned and the level of partner involvement. But be ready to capture the data and metrics that measure your success!

Assessment Phase

At the end of the Awareness Day, you will still have important work to do—including assessing the impact of your activities and what that means for future events. To make the most of your time and efforts, please consider the following:

Communication & Outreach Activities

  • Curate pictures, articles, and videos from the event.
  • Select and share a sampling of user-generated content to show participation by your target audience(s):
    • Tweets
    • Facebook posts
    • Instagram pics
    • Emails
    • Partner quotes
  • Share lessons learned with the broader planning team and your organization.

Evaluation Activities

  • Evaluation begins with checking with your stakeholders before planning an event/activity. You need to know whether they are interested (or could be with the right messaging!) before you expend a lot of effort developing an event or activities. Your stakeholders may no longer respond to messaging about a specific Awareness Day or only a subgroup of your audience may be very interested.  
  • Every event/activity should have an evaluation component.
  • Based on the success measures you identified in your project plan, collect quantitative and qualitative data to assess your activities. Review with your partners and determine if you achieved success and whether or not you should support the Awareness Day again in this way next year.


  • Hold a debrief discussion to develop lessons learned for the next event.
  • Discuss how well your partnerships worked, what could be improved, and agree on a schedule to begin planning for the next Awareness Day.
  • Devote time to recordkeeping. Collect and share the planning resources that you and your partners created and used so that no one has to start from scratch next year.
  • Thank your partners and your team. Let them know about the successes!