By Seth VanHorn, president of Toccoa Falls for Life in Georgia.
Creating events that people actually want to participate in can be one of the most daunting components of running a pro-life group. Creativity is vital, yet can be very difficult to harness when exploring different ways to attract people to your events.
This challenge was something that I focused on this year as my club sought to find effective ways to reach our community. We were constantly asking ourselves how to best get our peers involved in the pro-life movement, even if the movement wasn’t their particular passion.
We tried a several events and began to understand an important concept: you have to understand the culture and audience. The importance of catering to the uniqueness of your community is crucial for successful outreach. One of the specific solutions we found to answer this question became one of my favorite events that our club has hosted.
Open Mic Night
Last semester, we patterned with our local pregnancy resource center to help them with their need for diapers. We decided to attempt a traditional campus-wide diaper drive. When this failed miserably, we decided we needed some way to attract students to participate in our event.
Our signup sheets filled up rapidly. We found a local park with an outdoor amphitheater that turned out to be the perfect venue. The unique setting (including Christmas lights hung around the stage) and sound equipment provided by student government gave the event a legit, concert-like feel.
The results of the night greatly exceeded my expectations. The combination of free coffee & good music for an important cause brought out a vast number of students.
Compared to our first attempt at a diaper drive, this open mic night was a grand slam. Thousands of diapers were donated, food and coffee was enjoyed, music was played, and most importantly, students learned about practical ways through which they could make a difference for the pro-life movement in our community.
Our next Open Mic Night to benefit pregnant students and our local pregnancy center is happening at the end of this month and I can’t wait.
Know Your Own Campus
This event helped me understand the importance of understanding culture when planning events. For my own club, the answer to a successful event was an open mic night.
However, for your campus, the solution might be totally different. Every school is going to have a unique community, and your club will be most effective at reaching others when you understand the things that make your school distinct.
If you want to reach your student body, find out what makes your school unique, what do students like, etc. and use that knowledge as you plan events.