You don’t have to form a group to accomplish something. There is so much that individuals can do on their own or with a friend or two. Setting up an information table in a busy area of town or at a festival or concert is a great way to reach a large number of people.
Selecting a Location
Choose a spot with a lot of pedestrian traffic. Find out where other groups in your community set up tables, and look online for a list of festivals, fairs, or concerts where there are sure to be lots of people.
Once you’ve chosen a good location for a table, call the Mayor’s Office, the City Manager’s Office, or your local police station to find out about the regulations that you may need to follow. Ask the following questions:
- Do I need a permit? (Permits are usually easy to apply for but may take two or three weeks to process.)
- How often can I use this spot?
- Are there any restrictions on the types of equipment that can be set up?
- Are there any regulations on selling items, such as buttons and bumper stickers, at a table? (If so, you can ask for donations instead of charging for the merchandise.)
- Ask for several copies of the application form to save for future use.
Setting Up Your Table
To set up the most successful table that you can, you’ll need the following items:
- One or two card tables or a folding display table
- A folding chair (or two if you have a friend helping)
- Posters—some mounted on foam board or another sturdy material
- An easel or other support for the posters
- A plain tablecloth
- A donation can
- Sign-up sheets (so that you can contact activists for future events)
- A sign or a banner with your group’s name on it
- A plastic drop cloth (in case of rain)
- Lots of clear paperweights—small but heavy
Arrange your table neatly and attractively. Remove rubber bands from pamphlets so that people can easily pick them up. Keep an eye on your donation can; don’t let anyone walk off with it. Leave a $5 bill and some change in the can to encourage people’s generosity!
If visitors to your table seem interested, ask them to leave a telephone number and e-mail address. Thank them and let them know that you’ll keep them posted on local events or issues that they may be interested in. Encourage them to help by contacting their congressional representatives about a particular bill or company executives about a particular issue that you are targeting.
Don’t spend so much time with one person that you miss contact with others who may be interested. Be especially sure not to waste time and attention on someone who disagrees with you; you may alienate people who overhear the argument. Instead, clarify your position briefly, express regret at your disagreement, and turn to someone else as quickly as possible. You may feel as if you’re “backing down,” but arguing at a table is a waste of time and can cause you to miss potential supporters.
Bring chairs to take breaks, but stand up when people approach the table. Standing up behind or beside the table makes it appear more inviting and brings you to people’s eye level, making conversations more comfortable for all.
Above all, remember to smile. Be friendly and patient. You, too, were once unaware of animal abuse. Let others know that your background is much like theirs but that you decided to take action once you learned about animal suffering. Lifestyles and attitudes are easy to change—you’re living proof! And you can show others how to be more compassionate too!