AR 2004: “Running A Local Group”

By Danielle Marino

(outline to supplement talk, not necessarily to stand alone)


Are you sure running a group is for you?


1.      Out of all of your options, starting a group will benefit the animals the most.


A.  Successful groups have professional looking websites and a logo, 501©3 Status, charity status to accept 100% of donations online, a list serve.


B.  Successful activists don’t necessarily need any of the above.



1.      Work for another group.

2.      Pursue a profession (preferably one that makes a good salary) and donate to effective groups.

3.      Pursue another career (where you help animals/ the movement) and do individual outreach. (Ex: leafleting, library displays, literature stands)


YES!  We need a group in our area.  I am good at mobilizing others and figuring out how to jump over red tape so I am starting a group!





A.  Win real, immediate, concrete goals for animals.  What you see as most effective at doing that.


·        1st Win – Give out free food and people tell you as they eat “I’m going vegetarian!”  <1-3 people needed>


·        2nd Win – Erect library display on factory farming and survey viewers.

 <1 person needed>


·        3rd Win – Convince a cafeteria / restaurant to add a vegan option each day.

<1 person needed>


B.     Scalable Outreach –

Outreach that one person can do and can be expanded to allow many to do it.  Your small wins can get bigger easily.



1.      Leafleting

2.      Veg Stands

3.      Library Displays


C.     Weekly Events-

Avoiding the trap of too many potlucks and meetings that are discussion oriented and preaching to the choir instead focus on ACTION.


D.     Backwards Planning-

Utilize backwards planning for all events.



      June 1:              Get food donation requests sent out

      June 15:            Order banner that has website and says “Free Food”.

      July 15:             Write press release

      July 30: Food bought and prepared, Send press release

      July 31: EVENT: Food Giveaway


E.      Evaluation / Introspection

Every week, month, 6 months, 1 year, Ask Yourself:

- “Was this event effective?”

- “How many animals did we save?”

- “Are there other events out there that other groups are now doing that save more animals?”


F.      Keep and Refine what works, throw out what doesn’t.


1.  We found displaying products while giving classroom presentations and library displays REALLY helps the audience overcome the “vegetarianism is just too hard and too expensive” barrier.  By showing products from their local grocery store, becoming vegetarian became realistic.  So, we keep this and are now adding it elsewhere.


2.  We’ve found that too many meetings can be detrimental to us.

-         Our “leaders” tend to depend on meetings to distribute labor and are often unsuccessful.

-         We spend a good deal of time learning how to run an effective meeting and preparing for them when they don’t result in any more action than we had already planned for.  So, we cut down weekly meeting to monthly ones.


Good outreach opportunities will likely lead to recruiting others!!










1.      Create very specific volunteer job descriptions and post your opportunities everywhere!  (

         1 – Online

         2 – Your list serve

         3 – Colleges

2.      Recruit to an activity NOT to a meeting if you recruit to a meeting, have letter writing or letter to the editor writing activity.


3.      Understand and appeal to self-interest.


People volunteer because:

1.      Class Credit (high school)

2.      Resume Builder (college)

3.      Looking to meet people.

4.      To feel they have given back <guilt?>


      Then you must find out when you first interview / get to know them / what they will get out of their experience and help them get that out of it.



                           -If they want to meet people have them only volunteer at group events.

                     -If they want to give back / help animals, make it clear exactly how their      volunteering will help the animals.


4.      Maintain Regular Communication (have social time too) with all volunteers.


            - We must see volunteers as people and treat them with dignity and respect.

1.      When’s their birthday?

2.      What’s new in their life?


5.      Allow members to feel connection and ownership <be involved in decision making process>


- However small a decision, ask for a new volunteer to make it – then be prepared to stick with whatever they decide.



Books to Read: 


1.      Guerilla Marketing

2.      Organizing for Social Change  (from the Midwest academy)