One of the simplest events you can do as an Amnesty International chapter is to have a tabling event, where all you need is a table, a couple of volunteers, and some free resources and trinkets to give away. A tabling event is a great event to do if you need to build awareness for a chapter or a particular issue. Here’s how to set up a tabling event so you can gather signatures for a petition, recruit new members, or raise funds for Amnesty International or a similar cause:
Select a Location
Just like in real estate, it’s all about the location. You want your tabling event to take place where there’s a lot of foot traffic, but still enough room so that you’re not blocking the sidewalk or aisle. It’s also preferable if you can select a location where people sympathetic toward Amnesty International, human rights, and/or the specific issue will be, as those people will be more receptive to your message.
It’s best to have a list of three to five locations before you make your choice because you do want to ask permission to table somewhere. A location could have something else happening, and may not have room for you. A location could also not be very friendly to these types of events or toward the issue, so it’s best to learn that before you set up the event.
Set Times and Get Volunteers
After you’ve chosen your location, you then need to set times for your tabling event and get people to work the table. The times will depend on the day of the event and where you are setting up, as well as when your members are available. Weekend afternoons and weekday evenings tend to be best. You probably won’t need more than three people at a time, unless you know you’re going to receive a lot of interest and will need more.
When you set times, you don’t want to be tabling for too long, as most people don’t want to work the table for eight hours straight. Tabling for too long will make it harder to find volunteers, especially if it’s going to be hot or if it’s on a weekend. Four to five hours will suffice, and this means that everyone can work just one or two hours instead of an entire day, so it’ll be easier for people to commit time.
Have a Purpose
Why are you having a tabling event? Do you want to collect signatures for a petition? Several petitions? Do you want more people to come to your meetings and other events? Whatever the case may be, your tabling event needs to have a purpose, and it ought to be just one purpose. This makes it easier for everyone to talk to people and to engage them, as they will know the message and will be better able to prepare what to say when people ask questions. It will also make your chapter look better, as your event will be organized and it will look organized from the outside.
Once you know when you’re event it, who’s going to be working, and what the tabling event is about, you can now do the fun stuff and gather what you need to do the event. Here’s a list of what you ought to have at the event, and what you would need will depend upon your purpose:
- A sign or banner – You do want something on the table that clearly states that you are Amnesty International. It’s a great visual cue, and goes with making your chapter and your event looking organized. A banner also serves as a good cover, in case you want to hide materials and bags underneath the table.
- Table and chairs – This is obvious, but not having either screws up your whole event, so it’s worth mentioning.
- Multiple copies of your petition – If you are tabling to collect signatures, then you do want multiple copies of your petition. This is so more than one person can sign at a time and you don’t lose people because they are in a hurry and don’t want to wait just to sign something. With multiple copies, it’s also easier to engage in one-on-one conversation, versus talking to several people at once.
- An email list – If people are interested in joining your chapter, or at least attending a meeting or two, then you do want to gather contact information so they can be reminded to attend. Most people aren’t going to write anything down, and might lose a flier or leaflet with this information, so an email list is best. Getting an email also makes it easier to keep in touch with them and to have them come to a future meeting, in case they cannot attend the one coming up.
- Other free resources – This can include buttons, stickers, and pamphlets about the issues. Having something tangible for people to take with them, in case they ask, is important.