Congress/Symposium Organizing Committee Manual
This manual includes guidelines from former Organizing Committees (OCs) of IVSA Congresses and Symposia and has been created as an addition to the Manual on Organizing an IVSA Event, which you should also read. It is not meant as a list of rules, but aims to provide a general idea of the necessary steps to take when organizing such an event and can therefore be used as a general guideline for organizing Congresses and Symposia in combination with the Manual on Organizing an IVSA Event.
We aim to update the manual regularly with useful information and therefore ask OCs to send us any additional advice or experiences they may have after organizing their own event by contacting the Member Organization Director (MOD, email@example.com).
Congress and Symposium Basics
Purpose of Congress/Symposium
It is important to realize the main purpose of a Congress or Symposium is to enable the meeting of the General Assembly (GA). This assembly is IVSA’s highest governing body and is therefore the basis of many important decisions on the future of our association.
Of course the Congresses and Symposia also include a scientific, cultural and social program, enabling veterinary students from all over the world to meet and discuss important issues, and to learn more about each other’s countries. With so many people from so many different countries, organizing such an event can be difficult, but it is also extremely rewarding!
Timing and duration of Congress/Symposium
According to the Bylaws, the Congress should last at least 10 nights (11 days) and must be held in the period of June 15th – August 15th. The Symposium should last at least 7 nights (8 days) and must be held in the period of December 1st – February 1st. The precise dates are up to the OC, but any deviation from these stated periods should be discussed with the MOD. No other IVSA events are to be held during the dates of the Congress/Symposium.
Nomination and selection of Congress/Symposium host
The host of each Congress and Symposium is elected by the GA. If you are interested in hosting a Congress or Symposium, it is important to keep in mind that the deadline for nomination of a Symposium is the last GA Session at the Congress one and a half years before the event and that the deadline for nomination of a Congress is the last GA Session at the Symposium one and a half years before the event. You cannot nominate yourself as a host, so make sure to ask someone from a different country to nominate you before the last GA Session is over. It is also important to know you must appoint at least 3 people to your OC and submit these names to the ExCo before or at nomination!
In the case that there are no candidates to host the Congress or Symposium, the ExCo will convene a special GA to replace the GA lost due to the Congress or Symposium not being hosted. This also applies if cancellation by the OC occurs, which is allowed in case of unforeseen and unsurmountable problems at the latest 90 days before the start of the event.
Each nominated country is required to give a presentation to the GA .This presentation should include a preliminary program and information about visa and health requirements. A representative of the candidate country should give the presentation, but if none such can be present either in person or through telecommunication, the OC can name a representative to speak on their behalf.
Contract with the ExCo
Once the choice of the hosting MO has been made, the OC or its representative will have to sign a contract with the ExCo, to clarify the rights and duties of each party. If no representative of the OC can be present at the Congress/Symposium when they are elected, they will have to send by email a signed version of the contract within 30 days after the election.
Nomination, presentation and naming of at least three OC members:
- For a Congress this is the last GA Session at the Symposium one and a half years before the event
- For a Symposium this is the last GA Session at the Congress one and a half years before the event
Last possibility to appeal to the GA to increase the fee:
- At least 120 days before the start of the event (the last GA session at the Symposium/Congress half a year before the event)
Final date and total number of available places confirmed:
- At least 180 days before the start of Congress
- At least 120 days before the start of Symposium
Applications open (Applications must last at least 30 days):
- At least 120 days before the start of Congress
- At least 90 days before the start of Symposium
Last possibility to cancel:
- In case problems arise, the OC has the right to cancel the event up to 90 days before the start of the Congress or Symposium
Information on number and duration of GAs required received from ExCo:
- At least 60 days before the start of Congress or Symposium
Information on DF auctions received from DAD:
- At least 60 days before the start of Congress or Symposium
Information on EO-meeting received from MOD:
- At least 60 days before the start of Congress or Symposium
Information on pre-Congress/pre-Symposium ExCo meetings received from ExCo:
- At least 30 days before the start of Congress or Symposium
Specification of what fee covers
- At least 30 days before the start of Congress or Symposium
Preliminary financial report sent to ExCo
- Before start of Congress or Symposium
Congress/Symposium report and full financial report sent to ExCo
- 60 days after the end of Congress or Symposium
Payment of the 10% Surcharge fees to the Central fund
- 60 days after the end of Congress or Symposium
The Organizing Committee
Organizing Committee assembly
According to the Bylaws, the local IVSA Member Organization is responsible for appointing at least 3 people to be members of the OC and submitting the names of these people to the ExCo before or at nomination.
After the selection of your MO as host for the Congress or Symposium it is a good idea to get your Organizing Committee set up as quickly as possible. A good number of members to strive for is 10-20. The more members you have, the more you can divide the work load, but keep in mind that if you have more members that also might make it difficult to regularly meet up with the entire OC.
When selecting OC members, you are completely free in putting together your team. A good thing to strive for is the formation of a diversely skilled group of dedicated students. Also keep in mind that you will be working together for a long period of time on a big event, so it is important to be able to work together as equals and maintain good friendships! Include teambuilding into your preparations and start with this early on.
Suggested OC positions
Once you have your OC team assembled, it’s time to divide the tasks between you. Some positions are already described in the Event Manual. In this section you will find additional brief descriptions specific to Congresses and Symposia of OC positions. Of course these descriptions are not binding and you are free to assign tasks described to be the responsibility of one position to another if this is more suitable in your OC! Of course you are also free to add more positions where necessary!
The contact details (including email addresses) of at least 3 members of the OC must be published. The OC must check their emails regularly in order to respond to queries posed by international delegates.
If there are several local OCs, there should be as well a "central OC" whose task will be to bring togther everything that has been prepared by the local OCs: this central OC should include a president, a secretary, a treasurer, a head of itinerary and logistics, and a head of applications. Communication between the different teams should therefore be very strong and regular, and the whole OC will have to go to the different sites where the Congress/Symposium will occur to check every detail before the beginning of the Congress/Symposium.
President – It is the President’s main task to organize the OC, to keep everyone on track and to keep them motivated. It is therefore important to have a good overview of what the other OC members are doing and to keep in regular contact with all OC members. The President is the chair and coordinator during the OC meetings, making sure that opinions and ideas from all OC members are heard and discussed. He or she is also responsible for good delegation of tasks between OC members.
It will always be tempting for this person to get involved in a lot of other tasks, but in order to ensure the President can fulfill their primary task of leadership, it’s important to make sure he or she does not take on too many other tasks.
Usually, the president will be the main contact between the OC and the ExCo.
The President must also sign the Participation Certificates, together with the IVSA President.
Vice President – Similarly to the President, the Vice-President should have an overview of what the other OC members are doing and should keep in regular contact with all OC members. His or her main task will be to assist the President. The Vice-President can be made responsible for the meeting agenda’s and taking note of which OC members can and cannot attend meetings.
Secretary – The Secretary is responsible for communication and administration. This includes emails and letters, so make sure you assign someone with a good understanding of the English language. As you will receive a lot of emails from delegates with questions regarding applications, visa, etc, it can be a good idea if the Secretary delegates the task of delegate communication to someone from the Application Team. The Secretary is tasked with taking minutes during OC meetings.
Treasurer – The Treasurer is responsible for all the Congress or Symposium finances. He or she is responsible for opening and managing a special bank account to which fees and sponsorships can be transferred and from which payments can be made. The bank account will not be a personal bank account and should be an account only aimed at receiving the money for the Congress or the Symposium organized. The Treasurer, in discussion with the OC, should make a budget plan for the Congress or Symposium. It is important to calculate a standard 10% for unforeseen costs when budgeting, and to keep in mind that the delegates fees include the 10% surcharge for the IVSA Central Fund.
The Treasurer should keep track of all the finances, including proofs of delegate payments, and is in charge of the day to day expenses during the Congress/Symposium. The Treasurer is also in responsible for the security of the common purse!
The Treasurer is also responsible for the creation of a full financial report, which according to the Bylaws must be sent to the ExCo within 60 days of the end of the event and must be presented at the following GA. The Treasurer will also proceed to the transfer of the 10% surcharge to the IVSA Central Fund within 60 days following the end of the Congress/Symposium.
Subteam heads – However many subteams (see section 4) you may decide to have, make sure you always have one OC member leading each team. This subteam head can report the subteam’s progress to the OC during OC meetings. Some descriptions of subteam heads can be found in the Organizing an IVSA Event Manual.
Regular OC meetings are essential for the organization of every Congress and Symposium, as they are the moments the OC can report on their individual progress, discuss important issues, make decisions and plan ahead, and request for help.
- Pick a certain day and time in the week for your OC meetings, so everyone can always plan ahead and there aren’t as many last minute cancellations. Meeting every week is the ideal, especially during the last 6 months of preparation.
- In case the Congress/Symposium is occurring in different places, there may be OCs from different faculties and therefore regular meetings are not easy. Make sure to make weekly local meetings, and meetings online at least every 2 weeks. Besides, it is important that the 2 OCs meet at least 3-4 times in total during the last 8 months of preparation.
- Make a standard agenda for OC meetings and let members send their discussion points to the person responsible for the agenda beforehand, so he/she can plan the meeting.
- Assign someone, for instance the Secretary, the task of taking minutes and sending these out to the OC after the meetings.
- Take time at the beginning of the meeting to quickly ask how everyone is doing. Personal issues can affect the amount of work someone can or should take upon themselves and taking time to do this can give the OC a better impression of how to divide tasks at that time.
- Review everyone’s progress at the beginning of the meeting and set targets for the next meeting. This way the OC can keep an eye on each other’s work load and help each other out where needed. An easy way to keep track of targets and tasks is to add a checklist at the end of the minutes, which can be checked and updated at each meeting.
During Congress/Symposium it is a good idea to have a daily OC meeting planned, for instance before or during breakfast. This meeting ensures that everyone knows what the plan is for that day and who is in charge of what. During the event all OC members will be under a lot of stress and small irritations will no doubt arise. Plan moments during meetings to talk about how people are doing, so these irritations don’t weigh people down.
Responsibilities, rights and duties of the OC
The OC cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by international delegates during the Congress/Symposium.
The IVSA General Assembly can take any necessary action against an OC that does not follow the rules stated in the Constitution and Bylaws of IVSA, including termination of membership for the hosting MO(s). The OC should also follow the rules stated in the OC contract, which includes some extra duties not covered in the Constitution and Bylaws.
An official report on the Congress/Symposium, including the itinerary and a financial report must be written by the OC and sent to the ExCo 60 days after the event, approved by the next GA and submitted to the Archives. For more details on what should be included in this report please see section 6 – Congress/Symposium report and financial report.
The OC will proceed with the transfer of the 10% Central Fund surcharge within a maximum of 60 days following the end of the Congress/Symposium.
Once you’ve assigned positions to your OC members and have decided when and how often you are going to meet up, it’s a good idea to have a think about which subteams you would like to create, how many OC members should take place in these teams (based on workload) and which OC members should be the heads of these teams. In this section you will not only find a number of teams that have proved useful in the past, but also guidelines for these teams.
Things to consider before looking for suitable accommodation
- Before starting your search for accommodation, decide with your OC how many participants will be allowed to attend your Congress/Symposium. As the ExCo will most likely arrive a day early in order to have their meeting and the OC is obliged to provide free accommodation for ExCo members and Secretariat for one additional day and night prior to the event, keep this in mind when looking for accommodation.
- Also, budget beforehand what price you want to strive for when looking for accommodation and think about the possibility of including breakfast. We strongly recommend including breakfast, as most hotels and hostels will give you a good deal and it saves you a lot of organizing (and stress) in the morning! You can also consider trying to organize your dinners at the same location as the accommodation for the same reasons.
- Finally, decide if you would prefer to have everyone housed at one location or in multiple ones. Sometimes you have no choice in the matter, but if possible we recommend accommodating all the delegates at the same location, as it results in more integration between everyone and it makes everything more practical regarding communication to the delegates and transportation.
Looking for suitable accommodation
Start looking for accommodation early on in the organizing process. Especially summer months are travel months and places that can house the right amount of delegates may fill their reservations early. Investigate multiple locations and when you find something suitable, ask them to make you an offer. Remember that you are providing that company with a large group of people and thus security of income for the duration of your Congress/Symposium, so you’re allowed to expect a good offer in return!
After deciding on the accommodation
Once you’ve selected which accommodation to go with, make sure you make good arrangements there. It’s good to keep in contact and let them know you will pass on the definitive number of participants after the application period has closed. Keep in mind however that there is always a chance a few delegates will not show up, so make sure you communicate this beforehand and that, if possible, you only eventually pay for the amount of people that will actually be there. If you keep them updated on what you’re planning, the better chance you have of them being flexible in the case of unexpected extra needs. Go by a few times to meet with them and definitely discuss your program if you’re planning on doing activities there.
Make a room plan as soon as you have the definitive list of delegates. It’s entirely up to you how to divide people, but definitely ask delegates if they have a problem with mixed gender rooms or not!
It is also important to mix nationalities, in order to ease the contact and communication between the delegations. Both the ExCo and OC may benefit from being put together in separate rooms.
Delegates with specific religious requirements (e.g. muslims who pray 5 times a day) will often prefer to sleep in the same room.
Funding sources to consider
You will definitely need other sources of funding than just the Congress/Symposium fee income. Sponsoring is an extremely important part of organization and you should start looking as soon as you know you will be hosting the Congress/Symposium!
Sources to consider are:
- Pet food companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Other veterinary companies
- Government funding/grants
- Funding/grants from your university or faculty
- Food companies
- Hotel companies
- Anything else you can think of!
Besides financial funding, an aim of the sponsor team should be to find material sponsors. This can include funding of your t-shirts, program book, lecturers, workshops, items for the goodie bags, etc.
Approaching potential sponsors
It is important to present a professional image to companies and to deliver on sponsorship agreements! There are many ways to approach potential sponsors and the first thing you’ll have to do with your team is think about how you’re going to do this. One such way is to make a list of potential sponsors and divide them between your team members. Then you can phone them all and ask if you can send more information, after which you can send out a general letter explaining about IVSA, the Congress/Symposium, your theme, the educational value of the event, and inquiring as to potential funding. After a few weeks, start phoning your potential sponsors again to inquire if they are interested in collaborating and try to make appointments to talk face-to-face. These talks can prove to be the key, so if possible always try to get an appointment!
Keep in mind that you are organizing a huge event with a lot of outreach and therefore have a lot of exposure to offer! Be confident about your event and sell that confidence. It can be a good idea to aim for sponsoring of specific parts of the program, such as workshops or wildlife excursions, but what’s suitable differs between partners so always consider carefully what you can offer to whom!
When you and a sponsor have settled on funding, try to get your agreement stated on a signed contract, so you can always refer to that. A lot of sponsors will be forthcoming with payment, but because financing is mostly done by different departments and things can go wrong in between, you might want to contact some sponsors again if payment takes a long time. The Treasurer should keep an eye on incoming finances and if necessary the sponsor team should contact the sponsors again.
It is the OC’s responsibility to ensure the exposure you agreed on with your sponsors. Keep in mind that your event would not happen without them, so pay a good amount of attention to this!
More advice on sponsorship can be found in the Manual on Organizing an IVSA Event.
After the Congress/Symposium
After the end of your Congress/Symposium, remember to contact your sponsors to thank them and make them a report of the whole event. It may help the next OC as it is very polite and shows the professional attitude of IVSA. Most sponsors enjoy receiving a copy of the program book, so make sure you have enough copies.
Global IVSA Sponsors
Currently IVSA’s contract with Hill’s includes exposure at Congresses and Symposia. Please contact the External Relations Officer (ERO) for more information about these and any other obligations the IVSA has to sponsors of the IVSA on a global level.
Deciding on a theme, designing a logo and structuring the program
You’ll probably have decided on your theme early on, probably before giving your nominee presentation. Your theme is your program foundation and the scientific part of your program should therefore fit within it. Your logo can stick to the theme, but that is not required. When it comes to the logo you are completely free to use your creativity!
The most important thing to keep in mind when filling in your program is that you want your participants to understand how your program parts fit together and link with the theme. This can be achieved by choosing a specific structure for your lectures or by further dividing your theme into subthemes. Don’t plan your program too tight, as sometimes certain parts will take longer (especially GAs) and you might have to move things around to compensate.
At each breakfast, have one OC member tell the delegates about the day’s schedule. People like knowing what to expect, it will avoid many questions, and you can inform them of any changes to the program.
Standard IVSA program parts
Your program MUST include the following IVSA program parts:
- Pre-congress/Pre-symposium ExCo meetings
The OC must provide free accommodation for the ExCo Officers, Secretariat and Trust for the duration of their pre-Congress/pre-Symposium live meetings; the ExCo will probably arrive the day before their live meeting. The ExCo must inform the OC at least 30 days before the start of the event how many Officials will be present at this meeting and when it shall take place. The ExCo will also inform the OC of details of equipment required for meetings.
- GA sessions
The ExCo will inform the OC at least 60 days before the start of the event of the number and duration of GA sessions that must be included in the program. It is best to contact the ExCo as early as possible about this, so you can plan the rest of your program around the GAs. Schedule at least one OC member to be present during GAs, so that if changes to the program need to be made (such as adding an extra GA session), this can be communicated quickly. There must be 24 hours between the last two GA sessions, because of the voting process.
- Handover meeting
This meeting only takes place during the Congress after elections. Plan for the entire ExCo, both in- and outgoing to be absent for at least 3 hours.
- Development Fund Auctions
These include both the silent and live auctions. The Development Aid Director is responsible for communications related to the auctions and will begin communication with the OC to make suitable arrangements at least 60 days before the start of the event.
The OC shall decide on 2 OC members responsible for helping the DAD for the auctions (preparing the auctions, collecting the items, providing printing facilities, preparing the auction rooms, setting up the tables, placing in bags the items won by each delegate, collecting the money and distributing the items at the end of the Congress/Symposium).
The MOD will inform the OC of the length of this meeting and any resources required at least 60 days before the start of the event. This meeting usually takes 2 hours and will require a special room for around 30-40 persons, and videoprojector facilities. The participants to the EO meeting will be the Exchange Officers and Presidents of each MO, and if no EO or President can be present, one delegate per MO is invited to attend.
- International stands
This is where students present information about their faculties. Plan to have a table for each faculty (or, if better suited, per country) and for it to last 1-2 hours, including time for the students to set up their tables.
- Cultural evening
This is where students present food and drink from their countries. Plan to have a table for each country and access to a food preparation area (at least something to warm up food). Tell delegates in advance about the cultural evening and what they have to bring. Also give them information about the cooking facilities they will have access to so that they can plan what they will bring. It is very important to keep in mind that this evening can end up very messy and you will need time and people afterwards to clean up.
- Formal dinner
During this evening everyone will need extra time to get changed into their formal clothes, so plan it well.
The formal dinner is usually one of the last evenings of the Congress/Symposium.
It is usually during this evening that the ExCo will invite its official partners and sponsors. You can also invite the officials from your faculty and your own sponsors. Those officials, with at least some ExCo and OC members, should be placed together at the tables, and in front of the place where the different speeches will be made.
- (If requested: ExCo workshops and Standing Committee Meetings)
The ExCo and the Committees will probably request to run workshops. They will have to ask you about that at least 60 days in advance, and detail their requirements for resources. It is important to have at least one room per workshop, with videoprojector facilities.
Once you decide on the amount of lectures you would like to have and the subjects of those lectures, it’s time to look for lecturers. The thing to keep in mind here is that you can never aim too high. The worst thing that can happen is that people say no, so never be afraid to try.
A good place to start is with your faculty or national veterinary society. Networking will give you a better chance of reaching the people you want, so start on time. The President of IVSA is in contact with many international veterinary organizations and may know of people that are willing to give lectures, so it is a good idea to contact him or her as well. Some of the global IVSA Partners are willing to present lectures during our Congresses and Symposia, so the ExCo will be useful to find lecturers.
Once you start contacting people, you will be able to network through these people as well. For instance, if the lecturer you had in mind is not available, you can always ask them if they know someone else who could talk about that subject. The people you are contacting probably know more people in their specific field than you do, so use their network if possible!
Lectures are also a good incentive for sponsors. As it stands now, the contract with Hill’s states that there is to be one Hill’s sponsored speaker at the Congress and Symposium, who is supposed to open the event and provide a talk later on. Similarly, you can use lecture spots as ways to get sponsorship from other companies.
Send your lecturers a letter of confirmation two to three weeks before the Congress/Symposium to remind them of their appointment with you and make sure there is always an OC member scheduled to welcome them when they arrive. It doesn’t look good when none of the OC members attend the lectures, so make sure you schedule at least one OC member to attend every lecture! This also ensures that there is always an OC member present to give a short introduction and to hand out the thank you presents.
Prepare a present to give to each lecturer at the end of the lecture to thank them for their time, and also provide them with a certificate signed by the president of IVSA and the president of the OC.
Besides theoretical knowledge, delegates love to get some hands on experience. Same as for the lectures, your faculty can be a good place to start looking for good workshops, but there are also a lot of companies that are willing to sponsor in the form of workshops. If you find a particularly good workshop, you may want to consider doing it twice in two different rounds, so more people can participate in it. Plan different types workshops, which will therefore interest students who have different experience, who are in different years, and who have different projects in the future.
The most difficult part about workshops is ensuring the signing up is done fairly and everyone gets a chance to participate in at least one of their favored workshops. Brainstorm on ways to do this with your OC and consult with past OC’s on what works and what doesn’t.
Do the signing up only when all the delegates are present in the same place. The ideal would be during a coffee break in the GAs.
Excursions can be cultural or educational, or whatever you think appropriate. Always arrange a visit with your OC beforehand to experience every excursion and activity and avoid disappointments and complaints from the delegates. Better safe than sorry!
Always plan enough time for transportation. Delegates will be late and the buses will have to wait for various reasons. Delegates are less likely to be late if you leave at the scheduled time on the first day and tell the delegates beforehand that you will leave without them! If a bus MUST leave at 6am, tell the delegates they have to be at the bus at 5.40am at the latest, and the bus will leave at 6am. A walk to a bus or lecture hall takes significantly longer in a large group, so it is important to allow time for this. Don't hesitate to urge delegates from the beginning of the Congress/Symposium otherwise you will risk big delays and will have to cancel some parts of the programme.
It’s also wise to have an extra car or van available to drive ahead (if possible a few hours ahead) to check that everything is in order and to prepare for the arrival of buses. This extra car or van can also be used in case of emergencies, so always make sure one of the OC members is legally able to drive and that you know where the nearest hospitals, doctors, etc. are.
When planning parties, always keep in mind that people will be tired the day after, so maybe leave some room for more sleep the next morning to keep delegates from falling asleep during the rest of your program.
It is also important to keep in mind that even on nights when you haven’t planned an evening program, some delegates may wish to go out. Ideally an OC member should accompany them and advise them on places to go, so divide the ‘free’ evenings between the OC members as well.
Revision of the itinerary
Once the itinerary has been decided, the OC will present the itinerary to the MOD who will analyse and comment it with the President, the DAD and the Secretary General. The ExCo can require the OC to proceed with changes to the itinerary if necessary.
There will always be birthdays during Congresses and Symposia and it’s always nice to recognize these in some way. You can make a list of the birthdays by using your application list.
Arrival and departure of delegates
The Accommodation Team should keep a list of arrival and departure times of all delegates and with this information you should be able to make a schedule of the arrival and departure days. Really think about how many people to assign to the task of meeting delegates at the airport, based on how many arrival exits there are. Also, make sure to make yourself easily recognizable at the place you meet the delegates.
When delegates arrive, ask them to confirm their phone numbers, so you are sure your list of contact numbers is up to date.
The departure day might be a bit more difficult to plan, as you may not know yet how many other tasks you will have, such as cleaning tasks. However, you should try to plan the departure day as much as possible to ensure even this last day runs smoothly. It is important to provide help to bring the delegates to the airport or a train station on the departure day.
Scheduling, responsibility and the creation of a handbook
As mentioned numerous times, scheduling the tasks of all the OC members is an important part of planning of a Congress or Symposium. OC members should be scheduled to be present at certain places and events during the Congress/Symposium as during the Congress/Symposium everyone will be under a lot of stress and having planned beforehand who should be where can really help to take away a lot of the pressure. More pressure can be relieved by using a system in which you divide the responsibility. It gives each OC member a chance to rest and enjoy the Congress/Symposium, instead of constantly feeling responsible for everything that’s going on.
Don’t just schedule for the time of the Congress/Symposium. Make sure all OC members are available during the entire week before the event and during the event. During the week before, you really will learn to work together on a regular basis and OC members that join this process at a later stage are definitely disadvantaged! Also make a general schedule for the weeks after the Congress/Symposium, so that things such as finances and reports can be finished quickly.
During the Congress/Symposium it is very important to have a constant contact between all the OC members, which can be done through a chat application online with a group conversation with every OC Member constantly online with their mobile phone.
Consider making a handbook as an overview of scheduling and responsibility division. If thought through, it can prove extremely beneficial, especially if you always make sure one member has extra time to take care of last minute changes. An example of a page from such a manual has been included in the appendix.
During the event itself, all OC members should know what the day’s schedule looks like and be able to answer questions about the events. If the itinerary has a timed schedule, try to follow it or at least tell the delegates to add 30 minutes to every time if you expect this. Every culture views time differently.
You will definitely be happier if you can get volunteers from your Member Organization to help you out. In order to ensure enough volunteers, start promoting the Congress or Symposium in time and make it clear you are looking for volunteers. Once you have a clear picture of your program, you can define different time slots for volunteers to sign up for and assign them to help you out. It’s good to assign the task of coordinating and keeping track of your volunteers to one OC member. If there is one, you can consider asking high school students from a local international school who take the International Baccalaureate, as they are often looking for fun places to work unpaid.
Have a plan A and a plan B and possibly plan C for the schedule. Anything that can go wrong MUST have a back-up plan, including events such as transportation breaking down, as well as plans to deal with any health risk, e.g. heat stroke in hot countries, and knowing the location of nearby hospitals.
Smoking in any venue in which non-smokers are present is strongly discouraged, both because of the cultural sensitivities of delegates from countries in which this is not normal, and the possibility of causing breathing difficulties in asthmatic delegates.
Introducing the OC at the start of the event and getting all OC members to wear easily recognisable t-shirts or sweaters as a “uniform” throughout the event is recommended.
In all promotional material for an IVSA Congress or Symposium (once selected as a host), the OC should ensure that the official IVSA logo is prominently displayed.
OC email address
The OC should create its own email address, only dedicated to the Congress/Symposium. This email address will be used by the delegates to send their applications form, and to ask any question they may have. The secretary will have to check that email adress daily and answer to all inquiry within a delay of 2 to mawimum 3 days.
If your Membership Organization already has a website, this is the best place to publish all your information. You can always check the website of the Congress and Symposium before yours for ideas, but you will definitely want to post information about the OC, program, applications and sponsoring.
It’s always nice to get members from your own country involved, either as participants or as volunteers. How to do this is up to you and depends on how you normally promote events within your own MO. Keep in mind that you WILL need volunteers, so don’t underestimate the importance of promotion at your own faculty!
Also, you will want at least one delegate from your own MO, otherwise your MO will not be able to vote in the GA! The OC are not automatically delegates of the Congress or Symposium, nor is there any requirement for them to be. If an OC member wishes to be a delegate (and thus be able to vote in the GA), they must apply as any other potential delegate from their MO and would count towards the "delegate quota" for their voting entity (the OC may choose to preferentially select its own members as delegates rather than other IVSA members from their MO). The OC can choose to ask for a smaller participation fee and exclusion of accommodation and travel expenses from the fee for participants from the IVSA members of their MO. If no OC members or other IVSA members from their voting entity apply to be delegates, the OC's voting entity is not technically represented in GAs and cannot vote. OC members who are not delegates shall be guests of the GA with the right to speak but not to vote.
The OC must send all information regarding the Congress or Symposium to the ExCo. The MOD is responsible for relaying this information to the EOs and the PRC is responsible for publishing this information on the IVSA website and in the IVSA Newsletter. If you want anything extra published on the website or in the newsletter, just contact the MOD/PRC in time to inquire about deadlines.
Facebook is an extremely good way to communicate news about the Congress/Symposium to all IVSA members. It’s a good idea to assign one person to the creation and management of the Facebook page and to ask the PRC to share this page on the IVSA Facebook page.
A hardcopy program book is always given to the participants of each Congress and Symposium. It is also recommended to upload this book on the Congress/Symposium website. Things to include in this book are:
- Introduction by the IVSA President
- Introduction by the OC President
- Maps (with walking routes if necessary)
- Information on excursions and facts about your country/faculty
- ExCo reports
- For Congress only: Secretariat, Trust and Committee reports
- List of all the delegates by country
- Sponsor advertisements
Badges and T-shirts
Delegate name badges and t-shirts are provided by the OC and should therefore be budgeted for. It is especially good if they can be completely sponsored. For the t-shirts it is important to let delegates indicate their T-shirt size on the application form.
All participants should receive a goodie bag on arrival. This bag should include the program book, badge and t-shirt, but can be easily filled up with all kinds of things provided by sponsors.
At the end of the Congress or Symposium, all participants should receive a certificate of participation, signed by both the OC president and the President of the IVSA. The certificates will be provided, prepared and printed on a high quality paper by the OC.
The application period for a Congress must open at least 120 days before the start of the event. For a Symposium the application period must open at least 90 days before the start of the event. Opening up your applications earlier than this specified minimum will give you more time to arrange things and will help the people that need a visa tremendously. The application period must last at least 30 days and must be done using an electronic method.
Once you decide on the application dates, make sure to publish them as much as you can. Use both your and IVSA’s website and Facebook and (if possible) ask the PRC and MOD to include the dates in the IVSA newsletter and EO Bulletin.
After the end of the application period, send the list of applicants to the MOD so he or she can check that all applicants are members of active Member Organizations and therefore allowed to attend. Don’t send out acceptance letters before you have had your applicants approved by the MOD, because the MOD will give the ExCo's opinion and approval about the choice of delegates.
When creating your application form, you are free to decide yourself on what program to use. You can ask former OCs about what they used if you don’t have much experience with these kind of programs. Important things to add to your form are:
- Date of birth
- Country of legal residence
- Passport number
- Email address
- Telephone number
- Visa requirement (yes/no)
- Membership Organization
- Position in MO (if any)
- Position in ExCo (if any)
- Individual Supportive Member (yes/no)
- Year of study
- Faculty name and address
- Dietary requirements (vegetarian, no pork, ramadan, etc.)
- Medical requirements (allergies, medications, etc)
- Emergency contact (name, relation to delegate, email address and telephone number)
- T-shirt size
- Attendance of earlier Congresses or Symposia
- Interest in any IVSA Official positions
- Motivation letter
If you require any other information from your delegates, you are free to add it to your application form.
ExCo members, members of the Secretariat, Exchange Officers and Local Presidents have priority for positions and should be given a chance to apply before anyone else. However, even if you choose to have a priority application period before the general application period, you will still have to hold spots for ExCo members and Secretariat until you know for sure if they are coming or not. This is because applications from ExCo members and Secretariat may not be declined (this includes the President-Elect at Congress and the Post-Treasurer at Symposium)!
Number of participants required
In addition to places for the ExCo and Secretariat, and 2 reserved places for the Trust, there must be at least 2 places for each country at Congress and 1 place for each country at Symposium. This currently means there must be a minimum of around 100 places for international delegates at Congresses and 60 places at Symposia. It is very important to have the greatest possible number of countries represented in order to easily reach quorum for GAs. You are free to accept more if you wish of course, and are encouraged to do so!
For Congress and Symposium, 2 places are reserved for the Trust until the end of the application period. Once the application period is over, if the Trust have not filled these places, they shall become extra delegate places. If more than 2 Trust members apply (seek guidance from the Trust and the ExCo which will take the guaranteed places), the extra applications should be considered as normal delegate applications.
For Congress, IVSA currently reserves two delegate places per association for student representatives from other student associations who are our partners or potential future partners (in 2014, IFMSA and IPSF) (these students would be guests at the GA rather than delegates, but would otherwise be able to join in the entire Congress as any other delegate). The ExCo should inform the OC if these places are not required at least 2 months before Congress, so you can fill the places with people from the reserve list.
Also for Congress, the OC should also draft an invitation letter for IVSA’s global partners and sponsors to part of the Congress (normally the last 2-3 days), so that a maximum of 2 representatives per organization can attend the final GA(s) and the formal dinner. This should be sent to the President of IVSA, for them to edit and send out to partners and sponsors. Any extra expenses incurred to the OC as a result of the attendance of partners and sponsors will be covered by the IVSA central fund (except for lodging and travel, which is the responsibility of the partner/sponsor organization). The OC should communicate with the ExCo to ensure that this is done in a timely manner (a good target would be invitations sent out 4 months before the event and replies due at the latest by 2 months before).
Selection of delegates
When selecting participants from your pool of applicants it is important to strive for a fair selection of delegates. You have to base your selection method on a balance between multiple factors; these factors will be age, year of study, male vs. female ratio, earlier participation in IVSA events, current and past involvement in IVSA, projects regarding future involvement in IVSA, and quality of the motivation letter. Before starting the selection, you have to send the MOD your criteria of selection, so that the MOD can give their opinion on the criteria.
For a Congress at least two participants from each country applying should be selected and for a Symposium at least one participant from each country applying. Keep in mind that ExCo and Secretariat members do not count towards the “delegate quota” for their country (although unlike ExCo members, including the President-Elect and Post-Treasurer, Secretariat members are able to vote in GAs).
You must also reserve 3 Congress reduced fee places or 2 Symposium reduced fee places for delegates from disadvantaged countries (see section 5. Finances for specifics on fee calculation).
It is also wise to create a back-up list of members you can select in case anyone cancels. This will happen, so be prepared!
According to the Bylaws, the MOD is responsible for supervising that the Organizing Committee distributes the number of delegates per country for Congresses and Symposia in the most appropriate way to ensure optimal distribution of representatives of IVSA Member Organizations in the General Assemblies. So keep in touch with the MOD with regards to delegate selection; it is very important you agree with the MOD on the criteria of selection before you proceed to the selection itself.
Besides, be aware that some applicants will criticize the choice you made for the delegates, so it is very important you have very precise criteria you can present to support your choice, and it is also fundamental that the MOD has agreed on the choice of delegates before any delegate knows they are accepted.
- ExCo Officers - they are guaranteed a place in the Symposium and Congress, they are not a delegate, they do not count towards the "delegate quota" for their country, they have no vote.
- Secretaries - they are guaranteed a place in the Symposium and Congress, they do not count towards the "delegate quota" for their country, they have a vote.
- Trustees - they are guaranteed two places in the Symposium and Congress which do not count towards the “delegate quota” for their country, otherwise they are not guaranteed places, they are counted as a delegate, and they have a vote if they are certified as a delegate of an MO.
- President Elect - they are guaranteed a place in the Congress, do not count towards the "delegate quota" for their country and have no vote.
- Post Treasurer - they are guaranteed a place in the Symposium, do not count towards the "delegate quota" for their country, and have no vote.
Participants who require a visa to attend your Congress/Symposium must inform the OC when they apply about their need for visa. The OC is required to do everything in their ability to help participants to obtain a visa. Invitation letters are often needed and need to detail the purpose for the trip, dates, location, that food and accommodation will be provided by the OC, an address for accommodation and contact details. An example of such a letter has been included in the appendix. A letter of recognition of the Congress or Symposium by the IVSA President can be requested from the ExCo.
It may also help to register the event to your government if possible or to ring the embassy in their country that is in charge of processing the visa. We do not encourage group visas or group applications, as if one person cannot attend this may affect the application of the entire group.
From past experience, students who require visas which have found it difficult to make bank transfers may be reluctant to pay fees without knowing if they will get a visa. It is important not to exclude individuals trying to arrange visas and to help them as much as possible, but it is also important that you do not experience any problems yourselves. So always weigh the possibilities and set deadlines you think are appropriate for both parties, especially regarding the payment of the fees.
Once your final selection is done, you can send out official acceptance letters. Participants should be discouraged from transferring fees or booking tickets before they receive this letter. Ensure the following details are either included in the acceptance letter or sent to the participants at a later stage:
- Payment information – State what the fee is and what it covers. Include all necessary bank details and a deadline for payment. Clearly state that if you do not receive at least a proof of payment before the deadline they might lose their placement. Make sure that applicants also know they have to cover the entirety of the extra bank fees and that once they have paid they cannot claim their money back.
- Flight and transport details – Provide delegates with the exact airports (including the airport code) and all other transportation information they will need in order to plan their way to the Congress/Symposium location. Ask delegates to send you their flight details as soon as they have booked. Be clear about pick up and drop off times, so that delegates can plan accordingly. It is not fun for the OC to have to make unnecessary trips to the airport and it’s not fair to ask delegates to pay for transportation if it can be avoided by offering all the information they need.
- Medical/travel insurance – Clearly state that all delegates MUST have medical and travel insurance.
- Letter of invitation/visa details – Remind delegates to let you know if they require a letter of invitation for their visa application and to email you their visa details as soon as they know.
- Housing – Have delegates let you know if they are not OK with being housed in a mixed gender room or if they have any specific requirements with regard to housing.
- Post-Congress/Post-Symposium details – Let them know if there is a Post-Congress or Post-Symposium before they purchase their tickets and provide information on costs, program, etc. It is NOT mandatory to provide a Post-Event.
- Additional information – Are there any regulations at customs that delegates should know about? What currency is used in your country? What voltage is used in your country? Etc.
What to bring
Make sure to send out a list of what to bring a few weeks before the start of Congress/Symposium. You can ask former OCs for their lists to get a good idea of what to put on this list. Things to include are:
- Appropriate clothes for the activities planned
- Special clothes delegates might need for workshops or excursions
- Formal dinner clothes
- Passport/ID Card and copy of this (if delegates lose their passport, it’s easier to get a new one when you have a photocopy)
- Visa (if they require one)
- International Student ID Card (ISIC)
- Travel insurance and medical insurance details
- Any personal medication
- Cell phone/camera/chargers/adaptor
- Items for the DF auctions
- Items for International stands
- Items for Cultural evening
- Country flag
- Bedding (if necessary)
Don’t underestimate this part of the organization, as it isn’t a small job! Budget is very important. Always look for the best prices and try to get as many food items, such as snacks, sponsored. Alteration is key for good catering, as people get bored of eating the same thing every day, no matter the quality. Also be aware that you will always receive complaints about the food due to cultural differences. The most important thing is to make sure you can stand behind your food based on your own culture.
Snacks are often appreciated by delegates, especially when there is a large gap between mealtimes.
Food is a very important point for delegates and can become a huge subject of complaint from the delegates.
It is very important to plan enough food regarding quantity and diversity of the food.
When it comes to special diets, pay a lot of attention to catering. Your caterer might forget the amount and specifics of allergies, so make sure to ask every day if they have brought what you need! If you have Ramadan participants attending your Congress, talk to them about your plan for accommodating their food requirements and make sure you both know what to expect.
Keep a separate list with all the special diets and pay attention that at each meal there is appropriate food for them. To be sure the food is appropriate for them, ask those delegates in advance of the event about what they can and what they cannot eat.
Organizing a post-event is not mandatory, but if you decide to, make sure you make a good budget and program. Advertise on time, if possible before the application period, so people can sign up right away and transfer the money at the same time. If possible, make sure at least one OC member accompanies the participants.
According to the Bylaws the maximum Congress and Symposium fees shall be decided upon annually by the General Assembly. This is done at the event one year before - a representative of the OC will be expected to present a preliminary budget for the event to justify the proposed maximum fee, but the decision is ultimately up to the GA. Past budgets and past fees are a good guide to an appropriate fee to set. In the case of unforeseen and unsurmountable problems, the OC may appeal to the GA at least 120 days before the start of the event to increase the fee.
The fee should cover as a minimum: accommodation and food during the whole event as well as access to the venues of the General Assembly sessions. However it is recommended that a majority of the activities and transportation are included, even if you can schedule 1 or 2 optional activities for which delegates have to pay in addition. The OC will specify one month before the start of the event what other activities this fee includes. The fee amount must be finalized before the start of the application period. Up until that point the fee is subject to change.
The OC can choose to ask a smaller participation fee from their own local IVSA members.
All delegates, except members of the ExCo, Secretariat, Trust and the delegates from the United Nations least developed countries list, will pay an extra 10% on top of the Congress/Symposium fee which goes to the IVSA Central Fund. The OC must therefore charge the application fee plus 10% of that fee.
For each Congress there must be a total of three places reserved and for each Symposium two places reserved for delegates from Member Organizations in the GDP <10% bracket according to the Membership fee calculations in the Bylaws. The fee for these places shall be 50% of the regular fee and shall not include the 10% surcharge for the Central Fund.
ExCo and Secretariat members also do not pay the 10% surcharge. ExCo members only pay 50% of the fee at Symposium or Congress, whereas Secretariat members only pay 50% of the fee at Congress only. Trust members pay full fees, but do not pay the 10% surcharge. The other 50% of the fee for members of the Secretariat at Congress, and for the President-Elect at Congress and the Post-Treasurer at Symposium, is covered from the IVSA central fund. The other 50% of ExCo fees is not covered (is covered by the Organizing Committee).
If there are any problems with understanding this then please contact the MOD or Treasurer from the ExCo.
Payment of fees
It is up to the OC to decide how the fee is payable. The money must be deposited into an IVSA or Faculty account, not a personal account. Any transfer fees incurred are at the expense of the delegates, NOT at the expense of the OC.
To avoid incurring large additional transfer fees for the delegates paying their fees, the OC should investigate the possibilities of low-cost online payment methods, such as paypal, as alternatives to bank transfers. The OC should always search for the method of collecting payments that most minimizes the fees delegates have to pay.
Preliminary Financial Report
A preliminary financial report must be sent to the IVSA ExCo before the start of the event.
Final Financial Report
A final financial report must be sent to the IVSA ExCo 60 days after the end of the event.
Congress/Symposium Report and Financial Report
60 days after the end of the event the OC is required to send a report of the event to the IVSA ExCo, which is to be approved at the following GA. This report should include:
- Information regarding when the country was selected to host the event
- A full list of OC members, with President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer specified
- Application period dates, total amount of applications and complete list of participants
- Final itinerary
- A short report of the proceedings
- A short report of sponsorships and finances
- Final financial report
- Dates and number of participants of post-event
- Recommendations by OC for future OC’s
- Results of delegate evaluation, if known
Besides this full report, the OC should include a summary of the report.
In addition to that, the OC will have to pay the 10% surcharge to the IVSA Central Fund, which is included in the delegate fees. The transfer of the fees must be done within 60 days following the end of the Congress or Symposium.
Congress report template
To the members of the ExCo 2013-2014,
On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the 62nd IVSA Congress, I present to you the report of the most recent IVSA Congress, which took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands between the 28th of July and the 7th of August 2013.
Selection of Utrecht as congress host
Please state when your Membership Organization was selected to host the event.
Please list all members of the OC. Indicate which members were President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. Also state which University the OC members are from.
Applications and final amount of participants
Please include details about the application period, number of applications, selection process, number of selected applicants and final number of participants. If possible, please include a complete list of participants that attended, including countries, with this letter.
Please include the final version of the itinerary, if possible including changes made during the event itself.
Please write a short report on the organization process, including mention of the theme, sub-teams and any partnerships with professional organizations.
Sponsorships and finances
Please describe how the height of the fee was decided upon and add any explanatory comments for the financial report. The financial report should be added to this letter.
Please state the dates between which post-event was held, how many participants took part and how many of these were OC members.
Results of OC evaluation
Please add any tips you as OC have for future OC’s.
If results of the delegate questionnaire are in, please discuss any valuable results here.
We hope you find this report informative and that it has met the requirements stated in the Constitution and Bylaws of the IVSA. If you have any questions or remarks concerning this report, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Hannah van Velzen
Organizing Committee Secretary
IVSA Congress the Netherlands Foundation
Budget and Financial Report template
Example of OC Handbook
Example of Certificate of Participation
Please note that contrary to the information displayed in this certificate, IVSA was established in 1953.
Example of visa invitation letter
Utrecht, the Netherlands
April 11, 2013
To whom it may concern,
The International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) is an international organization run by and for veterinary students from all over the world. Currently, the IVSA consists of over 60 active Member Organizations, located in over 40 different countries. Our organization strives to benefit the animals and humans of the world by harnessing the potential and dedication of veterinary students to promote the international application of veterinary skills, education and knowledge.
Each year the IVSA organizes a veterinary congress for her members in order to bring together the General Assembly. During this event, participants also take part in cultural events, various lectures and workshops. Moreover, students receive the opportunity to network among other veterinary students. The knowledge and experiences which are shared during such events, are inevitably brought back to a student’s own country when he or she returns and therefore benefit veterinary medicine on a global scale.
The year, the 62nd IVSA Congress will be held from July 28 to August 7 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Mr. Pim Polak, a member of the local organization Utrecht - the Netherlands, is invited to attend the 62nd IVSA Congress. His presence at this congress is of great importance to the IVSA, seeing as attendance of a member is required for any Member Organization to be able to vote during the General Assembly meetings.
Therefore, we kindly ask you to facilitate the necessary documents for Mr. Pim Polak, to be able to enter the Netherlands. His passport number is A 1234567.
During the period of the congress, all costs for accommodation, excursions and meals will be covered by the Organizing Committee. The delegates only need to pay their own flight ticket.
The address of the location Mr. Pim Polak will be staying at is: StayOkay Utrecht – Bunnik, Rhijnauwenselaan 14b, 3981 HH Bunnik, the Netherlands.
Thanking you in advance for your kind cooperation,
Mrs. Niza Nijmeijer
President of the Organizing Committee for the 62nd IVSA Congress
Foundation IVSA congress the Netherlands
Adriaen van Ostadelaan 89bis
1111 AA Utrecht
[Add scan of passport]