An effective rally can be as basic as several folks standing outside of their Representative's office, holding signs to show where they, as constituents, stand on an issue. Or it can be much more involved -- to include a full program of speakers, a hefty recruitment effort, and partner organizations. And it can be anything between. It depends on your goals for the rally, your group's capacity, and how much lead time you have.
This guide provides tips from Councils' experiences organizing different kinds of rallies. You'll have to figure out what makes strategic sense for your particular rally. Always check with your Field Organizer or Regional Coordinator about the specifics of your event.
If your event is targeting a member of Congress, it makes the most sense to hold your rally outside of their office. If your city has central town square, this can also be a great location. Or maybe it makes sense to pick a location that ties to the issue you're focusing on. When choosing a location, consider direct pressure on your target, accessibility, parking and visibility -- to the public and the media.
Rallies are often held during business hours (starting no earlier than 8:30 am and no later than 4:30), when we have the best chance of getting media and the attention of Congress. The lunch hour is often the best time during the business day to turn out the most people -- and it's a convenient time for reporters.
If you have an event outside of a member of Congress' office, it's a good idea to call them as soon as you've determined your date and time. It's great to ask if you can meet with their office before or after the event. If you do get a meeting, be sure to review the MoveOn District Meeting guide.
Register your event in MoveOn's online system as soon as possible. As long as it meets the criteria for a given action, and is posted by the appropriate deadline, we can send an email to active MoveOn members in your area to invite them to your event. Check with your Council Coordinator, Regional Coordinator or Field Organizer to make sure your event meets the necessary criteria to qualify for a recruitment email.
Here are a few examples of speakers it may make sense to invite:
It's very important that you prepare your speakers well. Make sure to have a prep call or meeting with everyone who is speaking at your rally.
Do you need a sound system? If you're in a large city where you've had large crowds in the past, you should arrange to have at least a basic sound system.
Do you need a permit for your event? In most communities, you don't need a permit to stand on public property -- including public sidewalks. But depending on the location of your event, you may want to check with local authorities ahead of time. Many senate offices are in federal buildings that do require permits. If you're unsure, just check with local authorities. Also, if you have a sound system, you are more likely to need to arrange a permit. If you run into any questions or problems, talk to your Regional Coordinator or Field Organizer.
What roles need to be filled? This depends on the size and details of your event, but here are some roles to consider planning for:
You'll want to make or print signs to hold at your event. Other materials you may want to have on hand include: sign-in sheets, copies of the media advisory, and notes about what you want to say. Check with your Regional Coordinator or Field Organizer to make sure you have all the materials that MoveOn campaigners have produced for the event.
Hit the phones: The most tried-and-true way we know to get people out to events is to pick up the phone and call them. Our call tool makes it easy to call active MoveOn members in your area. Click here for the MoveOn Recruitment Guide.
Emails: You can also invite people over email from your host tools page. Make sure you at least invite every Council member and everyone who recently attended a Council event! Here's how:
It's really important to get the media to cover your event - news coverage educates other constituents on the issue, and puts additional pressure on your target. Click here for the MoveOn Media Guide -- use it to invite members of the media to your event.
Walk through the event from start to finish to make sure everything is ready and everyone is clear about their role. Anyone who is speaking or playing a role should be on the call. You can also discuss any breaking political updates related to the issue.
Your registered guests should hear from you in the 24 hours leading up to the event. This is by far the best way to help ensure that people show up. You should give them a reminder call. If they listed their phone numbers, that information will show up on your host tools page. You should also log in to your host tools page to send an email to everyone who RSVPed, reminding them what time you are starting and how to get there.
Arrive at least 20 minutes early. Typically some folks will show up early, and you'll want to be there to greet them.
If your event is at a Congressional office, the first thing you should do when you arrive is to go and give the staff a heads-up that you're there. They should know that you're coming, as you will have called them, but this still makes sense as a courtesy.
Welcome people as they arrive, and ask folks to start displaying their signs.
Start as close to on-time as possible. Don't wait more than ten minutes after your advertised start-time -- especially if any reporters are there.
1. Hold a meeting to debrief your rally and to talk about next steps. Plan that gathering to take place within 10 days of your rally.
2. Follow-up with folks who attended your rally:
3. Fill out the survey you'll receive via email after the event. And email any photos from the event.
4. Celebrate, and talk to your Council Coordinator, Regional Coordinator or Field Organizer to get ready for what's next!