How To Organise A Gathering

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We've run a number of in-person gatherings. If you decide to take on the task of organising a gathering you're doing an amazing thing for our network and we salute you!

Bringing your or your co-ops personality to the event makes it special for everyone, so you should do things the way you want. But this page collects our "best practice" wisdom based on what we've learnt from the past.

Can I organise a gathering?

Yes! You should feel empowered to organise a gathering and invite CoTech (and external) members to attend. We aim to have a gathering every 6 months.

You don't need to run a proposal to get consent, but it'll be your responsibility to communicate the event and manage the finances (we list some ways to help with that below) - so we recommend communicating your intentions to the community in advance to get help and work out the right place and time to hold the gathering.


Organising a gathering takes time and money. We've found it works best to charge attendees for tickets and then augment this base level of funding with grants and/or the CoTech fund.


We recommend selling tickets in advance for the gathering. This ensures that you have an idea of who will attend and how much budget you have to work with. Knowing how many people will attend is the biggest challenge in making the event work financially and selling tickets up front is the best way we've found to decrease the risk.

For the Glasgow gathering in 2022 we sold tickets in advance using Eventbrite (but you can chose whichever platform you prefer). We had three tiers of tickets

  • Student/unwaged/subsidised (£36)
  • Normal (£72)
  • Solidarity (£110)

The "solidarity" tickets were aimed at co-ops who could afford to pay and were used to cross-subsidise the cheapest tier. The price of the "Normal" tickets was set to be the estimated "at-cost" price of running the event.

We recommend only allowing refunds up to a week before the event. This means that last minute calculations don't impact already agreed costs (e.g. catering).


For Glasgow we applied for a grant from (TODO) to help cover some costs.

CoTech Fund

We've used the CoTech fund in various ways in the past to support the costs of a gathering. We recommend trying to make the event self-sufficient through ticket sales and grants, but a proposal (such as the one for Newcastle) can be made to cover some costs.

Remember, CoTech Fund proposals need to run for at least 7 days, and can be rejected by members of the fund. We recommend making the proposal early, justifying the expected cost based on your planning and explaining what the fund will be used for. In general using the fund for food/drink is less encouraged, but venue hire and cross-subsidisation of cheaper tickets is suitable. We prefer not to use a large amount of the CoTech fund just to cover alcohol, so please bear this in mind when developing your proposal.


We've tried to use co-operatively run or like-minded venues in the past. Ideally the venue should have at least 2 spaces in it. And make sure it has wifi!


It works well when attendees don't have to leave the venue during the event. We recommend providing tea/coffee/pastries on arrival and a working lunch (veggie/vegan sandwiches/buffet) for lunch. Consider a gluten free option too.

Buffet lunch at the Glasgow gathering in 2022

If an evening event is planned for the first evening, this can start at e.g. 7.30pm to allow attendees to have some dinner between the days event and the evening.


We recommend running a networking/drinks event on the first evening of a 2-day gathering. Factoring in a small bar/food tab into the budget (or putting any surplus from ticket sales) behind the bar is a nice thing to do, especially if external folks are invited to the evening event. You want the session on the second day to be productive so go easy on the booze :).

Developing an agenda

It's not your responsibility to fill the whole agenda - everyone has a role to play in this. It's a good idea to ask people sooner rather than later what they would like to contribute to the gathering (for example, delivering a talk about a technology they use, or working on improvements to the website).

Usually we have two spaces, or tracks, at a gathering:

  1. Timetabled sessions
    • Usually last around an hour
    • Often focus on skill sharing, or a show-and tell about a project
    • Can be programmed before the event, or decided spontaneously on the day
    • Sometimes these are open to external people too, invited in advance
  2. Working groups
    • Could last for the whole gathering
    • Involve proactively working in small groups on an issue that is valuable to CoTech (improving the website, developing new policies and processes, etc)
    • Work best if a few people have done some prep before the gathering (such as rallying people to join in on the day, seeing whether there is relevant work that's been done in the past). People will drop in and out of these through the gathering, but it's good to have a few people with a bit of a plan and a drive to deliver work.
    • Sometimes the outputs of a working group might need to be passed as a proposal at the end of the day

You can use the Wiki to create an agenda for the day ahead of the gathering, and write it up on a big piece of paper on the day for people to see and fill in gaps.

Suggested Organiser Checklist

In our experience, organising these events can take longer than you expect, so it's good to get started as early as possible!

3 months in advance

- Start a thread on the CoTech Discourse forum to tell people about the gathering - you ask people for help and support if you need

- Identify venues and check for costs and availability

- Choose a date

- Speak to someone who has organised a CoTech Gathering in advance to check if they have any pearls of wisdom (update this page!)

2 months in advance

- Book the venue/s (sometimes we have 2 venues: 1 for work in the daytime, 1 for social in the evening)

- Work out other costs such as catering

- Work out what ticket costs need to be (we usually hope for about 30 people at a gathering, with some tiered pricing)

- Set up an event on a ticketing platform of your choice

- Start telephoning co-ops to tell them about the gathering and get them to buy tickets. Also ask them to start thinking about what they want to work on or sessions they would like to deliver

6 weeks in advance

- Book catering and any other equipment

- Keep telephoning and contacting co-ops to check that they are coming (this task can be broken down and you can get other people to call co-ops so you don't have to do it all, bit you should maintain an oversight that every co-op has been contacted directly and knows about the gathering!)

- Ask CoTech members to really take ownership of and plan the working groups in advance, by contacting other members to drum up enthusiasm, and/or starting a Discourse thread.

- Create social media content if you like, this would be particularly relevant if there are public sessions at the gathering

- Invite any key stakeholders - e.g. we've had local mayors or city councillors attend sometimes in the past to her and see more about what CoTech is

4 weeks in advance and counting...

- Check people have bought their tickets and booked their travel and accommodation

- Double check everything is sorted with the venue

- Order anything we might need on the day (post-its, pens, tea etc)

- Organise some music or playlists if we're having a social


We usually use the following channels:

- Discourse for building enthusiasm, delegating tasks, general chats

- Wiki for compiling the agenda and storing key info

- Telephone for contacting any co-ops who don't engage actively with the Discourse forum (we've found it works better than email!). You can find a contact list on the Nextcloud server.