Getting Started

Getting Started

What is a PASS SQLSaturday?

PASS SQLSaturday is a one-day free training event for a technical audience interested in the Microsoft Data Platform and SQL Server. The event is usually held on a Saturday because many IT professionals have difficulty taking time off from work for training. You are not required to host the event on a Saturday, it can be held on any day of the week you feel would work best for your local community.

The event format takes on a mini conference style, usually with two or more tracks comprised of four to six sessions of about one hour in duration. The number of tracks, sessions, duration and speakers vary from event to event. Sessions are conducted by members of the community, sharing news, tips, tricks, and techniques. Speakers are volunteers and are not paid, but most events choose to organize a speaker dinner and/or provide a small gift for the speakers, if they have the budget for it.

Why organize a PASS SQLSaturday?

Organizing a PASS SQLSaturday is a great way to give back to the Microsoft Data Platform and SQL Server community. SQLSaturday events have also proven to increase membership for local groups and can even sometimes help raise funds for user groups.

What is involved in organizing a PASS SQLSaturday?

There are six key items to keep in mind for organizing a SQLSaturday event:

Event Venue. At a minimum, you will need one room for each track and a common hallway area or room for check-in and sponsors. Finding a venue and locking in a date 4-8 months in the future is the first step in building your event. This is often the most difficult part of planning a SQLSaturday. If possible, try to find a free venue. Good options are schools, colleges and universities. Make sure you have enough rooms for all your tracks, a speaker room, and a general area for registration and sponsors.

Finances. Free events still cost money. How much it costs depends on what you want to offer, and in turn, what you offer often depends on how much money you have. Options for funding include: sponsor support, charging a maximum lunch fee of $15 USD (or equivalent in your local currency), or a combination of the two. PASS does also offer some financial support for SQLSaturday events (currently $250 USD per event). Raising money takes effort, so it is important that you or someone on your team is comfortable with this task.

Speakers. The ideal number is to have each speaker present one session per SQLSaturday, but some speakers are fine with presenting two or more sessions. If you have two tracks with six sessions per track, you will ideally want 12 speakers, but 6-9 speakers can work just as well. The event organizer will have to agree with each speaker on the number of sessions. You are able to send out a worldwide “Call-for-Speakers” email when you have access to your event portal, however you should feel confident that you can sign up enough speakers based on your existing contacts before committing to organizing a SQLSaturday event. Generally, SQLSaturdays have at least two tracks, with a series of speakers focussed on a distinct subject area.

Marketing. It will help if you think of this as a very small business venture. Your main marketing vehicle will consist of emailing your contacts and local user group. You should also expend effort to have other user groups and websites help share your event message. It doesn’t have to be clever, just direct, informative, and consistent.

Volunteers. The SQLSaturday website provided to you allows attendees to indicate if they want to volunteer. As the event organizer, we suggest you set up several event tasks / projects tasks that can be matched up with volunteers. Using volunteers helps spread out the workload and allows those volunteer individuals to become vested in the success of the event.

Logistics. Even though the event is free, attendees will expect a well-executed event, which requires planning and communication. You must pay attention to the details.

What support is provided by PASS?

PASS provides a standard set of tools, processes and coaching to help you create the most successful SQLSaturday event possible:

  • SQLSaturday Event Website. PASS provides an event specific website on that includes attendee registration, online submission of session abstracts, sponsor registration, and more.
  • Admin tools. PASS supplies a web-based set of tools to help you manage registrations, manage sponsors, build the event schedule, print attendee name badges, view reports and more.
  • Mentoring. PASS provides documentation that can be used as the basis for planning your SQLSaturday event and a PASS Headquarters person will be available for mentoring calls as needed to help you as best as we can.
  • Finance. PASS provides a sponsorship payment to each event, however, you will likely need to seek additional sponsorship to make your event successful. 

What are the event organizer responsibilities?

Simply put, you own the event and you are responsible for the finances, planning, delegating, and executing the event. PASS will do everything we can to help, but success is only attainable if you maintain responsibility to run the event and make it yours.

What are the core rules for a PASS SQLSaturday event?

  • The event website must be hosted on the domain.
  • Admission must be free. A lunch fee of up to $15 USD can be charged covering both food and drink (no administrative costs allowed).
  • Preference should be given to local and new speakers when finalizing the schedule.
  • All local financial transactions and contracts, including the complexities of taxes and laws, must be handled by the event organizer.
  • The event organizer is responsible for finding sponsors and raising sponsorship funds.
  • PASS owns the SQLSaturday brand and will establish a licensing agreement with the event organizer. A signed license agreement must be sent to PASS before the event website can go live.
  • PASS reserves the right to cancel a SQLSaturday event if the required updates or core event tasks are not taking place in a timely manner.

Am I eligible to host a PASS SQLSaturday?

Before you begin organizing your first SQLSaturday event, PASS requires a 30-minute phone call to review your request. It is important to understand that we want you to have a successful SQLSaturday event and we make the decision to go ahead based on the following criteria:

  • Event organizer must be willing and able to commit 2 hours per week over 4-6 months, and at least one full work day in the days prior to the event.
  • Your event must be scheduled at least 4 months in advance.
  • You must be in contact with at least 50 individuals in the data community within 30 minutes of the proposed event location.
  • An event location with an active PASS Local Group.

If we agree to move forward, the first step is to find a venue and lock in a date. At that point we’ll set up the event site on and give you access to the admin tools and additional planning documentation.

What is the Initial Call and do I need one?

An Initial Call is required for all first-time SQLSaturday organizers, or if there have been significant changes in how your event will be run compared to previous years. The call will last around 30-minutes, and will cover:

  • Event Details (date, location, venue, attendance goal etc.)
  • License Agreement (AHP vs. Non-AHP)
  • Sponsorship Plan and Sponsors
  • Session Categories and Session Tracks
  • Speakers
  • Budget and Finances
  • Marketing
  • Food and Drinks
  • Next Steps

This call should happen before you begin organizing anything for your event, and ensures that you're familiar with what it takes to organize a SQLSaturday, and that you're prepared for the work ahead of you.

E-mail the PASS Community Team with your name and contact information and we will schedule a call as soon as we can, typically within 1-2 days.

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