Step 1: Create goals and objectives. Get a few of your friends together to plan. It's always helpful to have a team! Think about the goals of the event - do you want to bring together people to advocate for a specific bill, or just general science research? Do you want to call Congress, your state government, city officials? Figure out exactly what your outcomes are, as it will make planning much easier.
Step 2: Set a time, place, and date. Contact any allies you have at the institution you wish to host the event. Come to them with a plan, and work with them to secure a date, time, and room. It doesn't need to be fancy, just make sure it has cell phone reception, and chairs and tables!
Step 3: Build a coalition. Use your network to learn about any groups of people and entities that can partner up with your event. Especially if you already have a plan in place, it's much easier to get other groups on board. They will be able to reach swaths of people you otherwise cannot reach. Include organizations like ASBMB, FASEB, and Research!America that already do great work. (Contact R!A's Policy and Advocacy Associate Rachel Weissman - firstname.lastname@example.org). They will also contain many resources. You MUST call your institution's government affairs office. Include them in your coalition. Go over the exact plan with them, send them all of your materials so they can give you the okay.
Step 4: Figure logistics. It's time to determine exactly how the event will play out. The flexibility of Eat and Advocate for attendees is its biggest asset, but can be tricky for you as organizers. Train a small team of volunteers to individually help out attendees that come. Set up your food (if applicable - $100 can feed 50 people!)
Read our "EA Logistics File" to get a feel of how we did ours. Everything should be straightforward and informal so attendees don't feel intimidated! Prepare twitter, email, and phone call templates for your messaging.
Step 5: Advertise. First, create an RSVP tool via Eventbrite to monitor interest. Now it's time to utilize your network to spread the word! We created a simple flyer (below). Send out a simple email urging for volunteers, include the RSVP link. This email should go out at least 1 week before the event! Don't forget to contact your internal and external media sources that may want to cover the event. You never know who will say yes!
Step 6: Host a mock call session. With your volunteers, host a quick mock session and experience calling, tweeting, and emailing for yourself. Work out the kinks then. Figure out which numbers work, what emails bounce, and which legislative aide is the most responsive. This can be done minutes before the event.
Step 7: Host the Event! Take a deep breath, and get excited! As people come in, welcome them and introduce them to a volunteer. During the event, it was fun for attendees to be vocal about their calls, who they called, etc. Make it fun for all! We gave out stickers to attendees. Make sure people sign in (sign in sheet below).
Step 8: Debrief and summarize. Congratulations! It's done! Wasn't that hard, right? Utilize the sign-in sheet to sum up the effect your event had. Now for the most important part - what went well? What could be improved for later? You have now created a community of advocates. Be sure to email them soon after the event, detailing the impact of your event. Leave open the possibility of reactivating this new coalition for future advocacy events!
Step 9: Tell us about it! Once your event is complete, please contact us about it. We are looking to build a national network of grassroots efforts in science advocacy. Just a reminder, these steps can easily be adapted to advocate for just about anything. Also feel free to email me with any questions or comments.