there are a lot of things to consider before just taking off for an action. when you are at an action the stress levels are already high, but if you take care of some of these things before you leave your hometown, you will find that you can focus on why you are at the action.
there are lots of tasks that need to be done just to make the trip possible. but they don't have to be done by the same activists who are going on the trip. these activities are opportunities for activists who don't want to or can't go on the trip to have important roles. as you plan each of these activities, think about folks who may need to be at home with children, who can't get off from work, elders, people who are injured or ill... these people may have just the kind of time and resources to do important at home tasks, such as telephoning, media analysis & outreach, research, etc.
we usually divide into working groups (same as the categories below) to handle a lot of the standard logistics. each of these groups refers regularly to the websites of those bodies organizing the mobilization. some of these websites are listed on the introduction page.
you may want to check out the timeline for getting organized
this page includes:
are you panicking already? do you have very little time or very few people. read just the essentials!
we've separated out some other crucial logistics activities onto their own pages:
who?/when?/transportation/communications equipment: commitment...sometimes we have such a hard time with it. this working group functions to get people to commit on some level to going to the action. it's best of the who/when people are the same as the transportation team so they can match up spots in cars with numbers of people. since this working group has the difficult job of scheduling, our community often allows this group a lot of authority in making recommendations and decisions. it's best if one or two people are contact folks for people who want to go. they keep track of:
our group has rarely used airplanes to get to an action because it raises the costs beyond most people's reach. we drive all night cramped into cars and by the time we get there, we've gotten to know each other, are comfortable in close proximity with one another, and most importantly, we've learned to laugh at ourselves and each other already.
when recruiting vehicles, here are some things to keep in mind: is the vehicle owner ok with other people driving the car? (they need to be) if the car breaks down, how will repair be paid for? (split between owner and users?) who will be responsible for parking tickets?
it's best to think of the vehicle pool separate from the drivers, and to encourage the car owners to see them likewise. they may not always be in their own car.
sometimes cars can be rented very cheaply, and this provides more reliable vehicles. however, there are some other drawbacks to rental cars, such as that drivers must 25, adding extra drivers (even over 25) results in rapidly increased costs, and renting requires use of a credit card which puts a lot of liability on to that person. while it's very hard to think through how your group might handle thousands of dollars of liability charges, you might at least try to get a sense if people in the group will share responsibility in case of a problem.
housing: when a call to action goes out, the hope is to get people to travel to a destination in order to parcipate in the actions. generally, there will be people who are willing to put travelers up while they are in the cities for the protest.
trainings: generally before we go we try to host a series of trainings. these have the result of constantly increasing the skills of our community, among activists who are going to the action and those who are staying home alike. here are some of the trainings (click the topic for more infomore information about out how to host these):
if you manage to arrive a few days before actions start, there are almost always these trainings and more held repeatedly in the days leading up. check the organizing website before you get there and the convergence/welcome center when you get there for more information on times and locations of trainings.
fundraising/fund-abating: our very best fundraising strategy is to avoid spending. using borrowed or rented cars and staying in houses, we have been able to do these trips for $100 or less per person. in order to subsidize the costs to make it more affordable, we've raised most of our money just passing the hat at teach-ins, other educational outreach, and report-backs after the event. we also approach local people who support us and they pretty regularly give $25 or $50. then we divide this money evenly among everyone who wants some subsidy. another way to raise money pretty quickly is to have a great party and ask everybody to pay $5 at the door towards this important activist endeavor. (make sure you don't spend much on the party!) the global fund for women has some good ideas for small-scale fundraising.
Often the most grueling part of planning any action is raising money. Whether you are sending 15 people to a mass acton in another state, planning a local action, creating handouts, or any other action all take money. The scale of the activity (renting a van to get people to a mass action vs. printing handouts to advertise your event) will determine how much money you will need, and of course how much money you need wll determine which strategy you will use to get money.
There are a lot of ways to get money. The easiest way is to throw a party and invite all of your friends. IF each person kicks a couple of bucks, you can raise some money. Be forwarned that not everyone will contribute and they will still drink your booze (it is a party after all), so it is important to do a cost benefit analysis. If you spend 80 bucks on booze and only make 85 dollars, you had a great party, but not a great fundraising event.
Another simple way to raise money is to throw a benefit show. Benefit shows are great because they can cover a wide range of media. Activists always seem to have friends in bands, friends who make movies, friends who write poetry, and friends who different all kinds of different art. Often these friends do not have any money to contribute, but their talents go a long way in helping an organization raise money. Find a venue that can host these talented people, organize the talent, and then the work begins. Advertising is the key to making money at benefit shows. If people do not know about your event , they cannot support you. Organize your community to pass out handbllls, put posters up around your city, do whatever you think will draw attention to your event. Benefit shows are also good because they allow your organization and other organizations a place to table. For this reason, benefit shows can be educational as well.
If you are a student or have students that you work with, sympathetic professors often are more than wiling to offer some financial support. One way to garner this support is to write a letter explaining what you are doing and why your organization thinks it is important to get people involved. We have found that the KISS rule applies to these letters (keep it simple stupid). A letter that is too long will lose the professors attention and potentially you some money. Handing the letter directly to the professor and explaining it will allow them to ask questions and hash out details that may be important to them. The letter serves more as reminder. THis strategy is useful because it often builds connections with professors that you may not normally work with. Professors are of course a great source of information, which makes them wonderful allies.
Being part of a student organization allows you to ask your university for money. This is a tricky process, and therefore it is important that you understand how your university works. But do keep it in mind as a resource for money. This applies to other groups that organize in your community as well.
Being arty is a really useful skill when it comes to raising money. If you know how to silk-screen, you can make shirts and sell them at you benefit show or elsewhere. If you can knit really well, you could make a bunch of scarves that have your message on them. If you can draw, make stickers and sell them. Use whatever skills you have, being creative makes the arduous task of raising money a little more entertaining.