Your Activism Event: From Start to Finish

Congratulations! Your YAL chapter is ready to host an activism event on or off campus. You've got a great idea, and your members are excited to spread the message of liberty. what?

Now you read this page, and follow each and every step to ensure that your event is successful. All the enthusiasm and love of liberty in the world won't make your activism project as awesome as you want it to be if you aren't willing to put in the work required for success. Keep reading to learn what to do before, during, and after every activism event to effectively grow your chapter and advance our cause.

A. Pre-Event Preparation

Use this list to lay the groundwork for a successful event:
  1. Reserve space. Even if you haven't decided what exactly what your project will be, call your Student Activities Office TODAY and start the process of reserving meeting space and tabling spots. Cold weather will make indoor tabling space scarce. If your campus is in a warmer climate, try to put your display outside so it can be easily viewed from a distance — think big.

  2. Get the word out. Make sure your whole chapter is aware of your project and ready to participate. Use the "mass message" feature in the members management tool on your chapter page on the YAL website to contact your whole list at once.

  3. Get in touch with your State Chair and Regional Director. Find your Leadership Team representatives here and contact them today. New leaders join the team all the time, so be sure your contacts are up to date. Your Leadership Team reps can help you fine-tune your existing plans or even coordinate your activism with other nearby chapters.

  4. Organize an informational meeting. Before you start your activism, host a members-only meeting to plan your project and assign activism responsibilities to your current members.
  5. Assign an Events Director. If possible, assign an Events Director to head up this project and all your future events. This person should be in charge of making everything run smoothly, especially tabling. The Events Director can learn more about tabling technique here.
The more of this preparation you can do in advance of your event, the more smoothly and effectively your activism will go. You should be able to organize everything in the above list in just a few hours, all from the comfort of your computer chair.

B. Successful Tabling How-to

Here are the basics of pulling off any tabling project:

  1. Reserve tabling space with your Student Government Association.  Try to get a high traffic area during peak hours.
  2. Saturate your campus with flyers, posters, and chalked notices. Make your message unmissable.

  3. Send press release to local papers and campus newspaper. Click here to learn how to get media attention and write a good press release.
  4. Get professors on your side. Many professors and department heads (especially in political science, economics, and other social sciences) will be excited to learn that you're hosting a political event, even if they don't share your pro-liberty perspective. Ask them to help you out by allowing you to announce the event in class or assign extra credit to their classes for students who attend your follow-up event. Learn how to work with faculty to your advantage here.
  5. Don't forget to print out plenty of YAL sign-up sheets!  Download a sign-up sheet template here. Quick tip: Completely fill out the first two lines on every sign up sheet. No one wants to be the first to sign up, and if you completely fill out every field, it is more likely a student will do the same.
  6. Make sure you have a clean presentation and don't forget to bring candy and other other free stuff to give to interested students. Your table should always look professional and inviting. Try to view it with an outsider's eye.

  7. Run your display! Always keep a few chapter members on site who are friendly and ready to answer questions. 
  8. Always promote your follow-up event to anyone who stops by your table. Ask them to commit to attending. 
Your tabling project will make a big splash on campus, but it's not the main event! As you table, your goal is to get as many students as possible interested in your follow-up event.

C. Plan a Follow-up Event

Your tabling project will make a big splash on campus, but it's not the main event! As you table, your goal is to get as many students as possible interested in your follow-up event. Here are a few ideas to consider as you plan your follow-up event, which is designed to educate attendees in greater depth about the political issue which inspired your activism:
Idea 1: Host a Speaker
Bringing speakers to your campus, if done properly, can attract large numbers of students and increase interest in your chapter. Don't be afraid to think big, and consider a wide range of speaker options. For example, you might host a local businessman for Tax Day activism. Or you could bring in an expert from one of YAL's Strategic Partner Organizations. Or you might be able to get in touch with local or state politicians who support liberty. Or there may even be a professor right on campus with an interesting perspective.

Click here to learn how to host a speaker successfully, and get in touch with your Leadership Team representatives if you have difficulty selecting or contacting a speaker.
Idea 2: Screen a Movie
Want to educate students on political issues? A movie screening may be the way to go. Find a good documentary or even a feature film which raises serious questions about your topic of choice. Depending on the movie you select, you may wish to hold a brief discussion session afterwards to ensure that the message got through. 
Idea 3: Organize a Debate
Instead of hosting just one speaker, consider having three or more! Organize a debate on campus between representatives of at least three political perspectives—conservative, libertarian, and liberal—and have them talk about your activism's issue focus. 

D. Document Your Activism

After your event, share your story on the YAL blog. We want all the details! Post your story here. If you have any trouble posting to the YAL blog as a Chapter Officer, email YAL Director of Communications Matthew Boyer at Also, don't forget to upload your new recruits' info to your chapter page.

E. Follow up with Your New Recruits

After your event is over, you're not done yet. Now is the time to turn your newly educated sign-ups and event attendees into dedicated YAL members.
Get in Touch
New recruits should hear from you the same day they sign up. Text or call the most promising new recruits that night. Tell them how excited you are and personally invite them to your first chapter meeting. Additionally, be sure to upload all your members and new recruits to your chapter page by using the Members Management tool on your chapter page at This tool is an easy way to manage membership lists and mass message them through the website.
Have a Meeting
After communicating with your new contacts, your goal is to get them to attend an informational chapter meeting, giving you about 30 minutes to make the case for joining YAL. This is your chance to make a good impression and sustain your chapter's membership growth.Click here to learn how to run an effective and persuasive informational meeting.