How to Host a House Meeting

Want to tell your family, friends, and neighbors about paycheck fairness, violence against women, another policy issue, or just AAUW in general? It’s time to throw a house meeting! And we’re here to help. Consider us your resource and sounding board. If you’re not already in touch with us, please e-mail us at advocacy@aauw.org.

What Is a House Meeting?

A house meeting is a foundational organizing tool. It is a meeting where you invite your personal network to come learn about an issue and what they can do to help. Putting together a house meeting is a key organizing skill — and once you’ve done one, you can do 1,000! We are here to help you every step of the way.

Does It Have to Be at a House?

Absolutely not! A house meeting is a type of organizing meeting, not necessarily a meeting at a house. While your house is often the easiest location, a house meeting can also take place at a coffee shop, library, community center, college campus, or any other meeting place you like.

What Are the Steps to Planning a House Meeting?

Below is a sample step-by-step process for planning and executing your house meeting.

  1. If you want, buddy up with another AAUW member to co-host the meeting.
  2. Determine where you want to have your house meeting.
  3. If the meeting will not be at your house, research other locations and find out about any restrictions or costs.
  4. Determine what activity (movie, speaker, etc.) you want at your meeting.
  5. Set the date and time of your house meeting.
  6. Send out the invites.
  7. Make sure you have all the necessary materials (AAUW one-pagers, public policy brochures, Action Network sign-up sheets, etc.).
  8. Make reminder calls two to three days before your meeting to everyone who sent their RSVP.
  9. If the meeting is not at your house, call and reconfirm the location.
  10. Make another round of RSVP calls the day before or day of your meeting.
  11. On the day of, set up your house meeting location.
  12. Hold the house meeting.
  13. Report back to us on your house meeting by filling out this form.
  14. Make follow-up calls to each of the attendees thanking them for coming and reminding them of how to get more involved.
  15. Alert the attendees to follow-up actions as appropriate.

Whom Should I Invite?

The simplest way to create your invite list is to go through your contact list on your phone, e-mail account, Facebook, or other networking tools. Each connection you have in your immediate area — e.g. family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, branch members — should be invited. We can also provide you with a list of AAUW members in your area. Don’t worry about inviting too many people. Less than half of those you invite will say yes, and only about half of those who say yes will actually show up on the day of. The more people you invite, the better your chances of a full meeting!

Invites

Generally, multiple layers of invites work best. You can send an e-mail to those you have e-mail addresses for, print a flier for your neighbors, post the event on Facebook, and then follow up with phone calls. You can designate someone to help you with the invite process. However, since you are inviting your personal network, you will likely find that the invite process is easy and doesn’t take as much time as you imagine.

Attendance Goal

You should aim to have 20 people actually attend. Keep in mind that less than half of those you invite will say yes, and only about half of those yeses will actually attend.

What Do I Need?

The needs for a house meeting are quite basic and boil down to what you want to have. Aside from the necessary AAUW materials (one-pagers, public policy and/or membership brochures, etc.), an invite of some sort (can be just a typed e-mail) and some food (you can have attendees bring food to share with everyone) are really all you need. Below is a list of some items you might want for your house meeting:

  • Sign-in sheet (for collecting contact info from all attendees for follow-up purposes)
  • Name tags
  • Appropriate issue one-pagers (with extra copies so attendees can take a stack with them)
  • Public policy brochures
  • Membership brochures
  • Camera (for taking pictures of your meeting)
  • AAUW signs (for staging the area where the meeting will happen. Signs are available for order from ShopAAUW.)
  • Directional signs (in case finding the meeting location will be difficult)
  • Pens and markers
  • Food and drinks

Build Off Other Events

An easy way to structure a house meeting is to build off other events. If you already have a monthly poker game, book club, knitting club, etc., you can add the house meeting onto that event.

Get Creative and Fun

People are more likely to attend an event that they think will be fun and interesting. Make it a potluck dinner, wine tasting, barbecue, debate watch party, movie party, or anything else you can think of. The options are endless!

Sample Agenda

A possible agenda for your house meeting is as follows:

6:30 p.m. Guests arrive and grab food
6:45 p.m. Welcome (tell a story of self, us, and now) and introductions
7:00 p.m. Background on AAUW and the chosen meeting topic
7:15 p.m. Activity (watch movie, listen to speaker, etc.)
7:30 p.m. Q&A (if appropriate)
7:45 p.m. Make the ask(s)
7:50 p.m. Advocacy action (e.g. write letters to the editor, plan a lobby day)
8:30 p.m. Guests leave

The Ask

It is absolutely critical that you always make an ask of the attendees. Potential asks include

Sample Timeline

Below is a potential timeline for pre- and post- house meeting:

5–10 days before meeting
Start sending out invites2–3 days before meeting
Make reminder calls to RSVPsDay of meeting
Make another round of reminder calls to RSVPs1–2 days after meeting
Make follow-up calls to attendees (get feedback on what they thought of the meeting, follow up on the commitments they made, get them engaged as leaders, ask if they can host a house meeting, etc.)

Meeting Set-up

  • While you can set up and stage your meeting location however you best see fit, here are a few tips that may be helpful:
  • Put up directional signs so attendees know where to park, what room to go to, etc.
  • Set up a greeter and a sign-in table near an entrance so you can greet attendees as they enter, take their coats, point out the restrooms and food, and collect their contact info.
  • Have AAUW public policy one-pagers available at the sign-in table and throughout the room.
  • Put up AAUW signs around the room.
  • Make sure you have enough places for people to sit and arrange chairs in such a way that everyone will be able to see the presentation.
  • Lay out the food and drinks in an easily accessible area where it won’t create a log jam and also won’t be a distraction during the presentation.

Resources

Don’t worry, we will provide you with assistance throughout your entire planning process — just e-mail us. Some of what we can assist you with includes

  • Any and all handouts (one-pagers, brochures, etc.)
  • Invite flier template and call script
  • Distribution of the invitation via Action Network
  • Assistance with setting up an event on Facebook
  • Suggestions on places to hold a house meeting
  • Training materials on how to have an effective one-on-one invite conversation
  • Training materials on making an effective and successful ask
  • Coaching on the overall planning and execution of your meeting

Report Back

Don’t forget to let us know how your house meeting went by filling out this form.

 

Related Resources

Advocacy How-to Guides

Resources to guide activists in advocacy efforts.

How to Hold a Meeting with Your Elected Officials

Connect with your elected officials about AAUW issues in a face-to-face meeting.

How to Work with the Media

Build relationships and draw attention to AAUW priority issues and events you are planning.