A group can start with two people. The important thing
is to decide from the beginning which issues you will work on. Then
choose a name for your group that reflects that focus.
Do you want to work primarily on animal rights issues or
animal welfare issues? Realistically, you won't have the time, energy,
or money to do both effectively. We recommend that you stick to animal
rights education, organizing, and lobbying and refer individual cruelty
cases to the appropriate agencies in your community who should be
equipped and trained to deal with them.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP
Before you get a group together, educate and organize yourself.
* Get an answering machine, and be sure you can change
the message. Keep a spiral notebook near the machine to record messages.
* Use a card file to keep important telephone numbers
organized and easy to find.
* Get a post office box mailing address at a local post
* Get stationery printed as soon as you have a PO box
and a telephone number. It will make you look more professional.
* Open a bank account. You'll need to keep accurate
financial records from the start, so decide on a record keeping system.
At the minimum, record the date and amount of all donations, and the
name and address of the donor. Also keep a record of how money is spent,
including the date, amount, and purpose. Save all your receipts and
write on the back of the receipt the item you bought and the date and
reason you bought it. "Display, x/xx/xx or "school talk" x/xx/xx
* Get a bulk rate mail permit. This will give you a
discounted mailing rate if you mail more than 200 pieces at once and
sort the mail according to zip codes. Your local post office can send
you instructions on how to get and use the permit.
* Prepare a form welcome letter and information pack to
send to new members. Print several hundred copies so you can respond
quickly to requests. Also print a form thank-you letter for donations
you receive and make sure you acknowledge them quickly. It is tempting
to answer inquiries with a personal letter, but you can better spend
that time reaching new people. You can add a handwritten, personalized
postscript at the bottom of the page.
* Make up a "phone tree" - a calling system so that one
person doesn't have to spend an entire evening on the telephone calling
each member. For example, when you need to make a number of calls, you
call three people who then call three others, who in turn each call
three more people, and so on.
* Prepare a media list of newspapers and TV and radio
stations with their addresses, telephone numbers, and deadlines to save
time when you need to publicize an event.
* Do some long-term planning. Set up a tabling schedule
or leafleting plan for the next three to six months.
* Organize your home office. Set up a filing system for
issues, financial records, media lists, etc. Insert reference materials
and a fact sheet under categories such as: CIRCUSES, FACTORY FARMING,
FISHING, FUR, HUNTING, RODEOS, VEGETARIANISM, ZOOS, etc.
* You may want to postpone incorporating your group as
long as your budget is small and you're not launching high-profile
* Get a computer or word processor as soon as you can
afford it, or ask businesses or members to donate one. This should be
one of your earliest priorities, because using a computer makes it so
easy to get - and stay organized.
As a small and new group, prioritize your activities.
Member newsletters, for example, should be a low priority. Your money
will be more wisely spent on educational materials, leaflets, and
Remember that newsletters relate what a group has
already done, they shouldn't be used as a replacement for action.
Go on to What You Can
Do To Protect Your Pet
Return to 3 January 1999 Issue
Return to Newsletters
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