Tips for Increasing Attendance at LGBTQ Events

by Nicky Rohrkemper and Jess McDonald
Updated: August 2021

It’s time to recruit. At the beginning of the year, you want to gain momentum. Attracting new members and creating visibility on campus are very important.



Get creative with advertising. Explore policies on posting flyers, chalking sidewalks, and adding your event information to your college’s online calendar. Find out if you can hang banners around campus. Pass out candy along with information about meeting times. Consider using table tents in dining halls to reach a broader audience.  You interest more people by using wording about needing the support of both LGBT and allied students.

Utilize email reminders. Build a contact list by having a table at orientation or another well-attended event early in the school year. Consider getting in touch with other political activism groups and progressive groups on campus (Amnesty International, Young Democrats, Women’s/Gender Studies Department) to see if they will send an email out for you.

Think about the name of your group. There are pros and cons associated with how LGBTQ student groups are named. Whatever your organization is called, advertise to increase name recognition. The “Lambda Club” doesn’t bring an image to most people’s minds (although this can sometimes be an advantage when dealing with preconceived notions!) They have to associate it with something!

Create and maintain a Facebook and Twitter, and/or Instagram pages. Make sure you update them regularly and include the web addresses on your fliers, signs, mailings, etc. Also try to get URLs that are easy to remember or find.

Set up a table wherever your campus allows (on the quad, in the cafeteria, the lobby of classroom buildings, during the Welcome Fest or Student Organization Fair, etc.) and pass out pins or ribbons. They are cheap to make and many people, LGBTQ or straight, can feel comfortable wearing this small token of support around campus.


Partner with other organizations. This is one of the easiest ways to increase your attendance! Find common ground and plan an event such as a voting drive with a political organization or a panel on the experiences of queer people of color with the Black Student Union or similar group. Reach out to community groups such as PFLAG to pool your resources and reach a broader audience when hosting speakers or other events. You can also plan social outings or service days with other organizations to create new connections.

Reconsider meeting times. The folks at the Auburn University of Montgomery increased the attendance at their weekly meetings by changing the time they met. They changed the time from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 and got more people. You could also alternate the times of the meetings, 3:00 p.m. one week and 7:00 p.m. the next – it might get complicated, but different times work for different people.

Speak with your Dean of Student Affairs or other officials to feel them out on the issues. You may find unexpected support. These people often decades of experience on college campuses, so tap their knowledge of what has worked in the past. For example, see if they remember any memorable awareness-raising “stunts” on any of the campuses they have worked on! Find out where you will get support/what you are up against in the upper echelons of administration at your college!

Ideas for Events

Hold a Drag Ball, Show or Contest. Both LGBTQ and allied students get into this one! The “contest” aspect and/or prizes give people an excuse to dress up. Some students get involved in amateur Drag King and Queen competitions and really know how to pull this kind of thing off, and some schools even invite professional drag performers!

Do charity work with traditionally LGBTQ related causes AND NON-LGBTQ related charities. Show you care about all the members of your community, and human rights for all people, not just LGBTQ rights.

Organize a show of support on campus, such as rainbow pins, wear purple day, etc – something visible. This may work better later in a term when people are more secure and have had contact with the group to feel supported enough to be open/out in this manner.

Hold a Film Festival! You can show serious dramas or campy classics, or even both! However, each campus has different rules and regulations about showing films on campus – be sure you don’t violate copyright laws! Check with your campus activities office. Some groups have weekly film nights in a member’s residence hall room, and others work with faculty to show films in classroom and educational settings. Organizing a film festival is one way of raising money for your group or for a local charity.

Select a topic in advance of each meeting and have a structured discussion. Make an informative introduction to the topic and then they open it up for a sharing of personal experiences, discussion, etc. Also, when you post an agenda beforehand, you show people that you know what you’re doing! People want to get involved with well-organized groups.


Source: Nicky Rohrkemper (Alma College Pride, Alma Michigan) and Jess McDonald, Campus Pride, 2012.

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.