Tabling: Tips and Tricks for Creating AAUW Visibility
Tabling is a great way to increase visibility for AAUW and spread the word about AAUW’s work. But there’s more to it than sitting at a table with brochures. Read the guide below to learn how to plan a tabling event that recruits new members and engages your community on AAUW issues. If you’re not already in touch with AAUW’s public policy and government relations staff, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
What Is Tabling?
Tabling can help you raise awareness and garner support for an issue, advertise for events, and recruit new members. Set up a table with information and sign-up forms and then engage with passersby to recruit them as members, inform them about AAUW policy issues, and ask them to take action.
Before the Event
Choose a location. Set up your table in a high-traffic area with good visibility. If people can’t see your table from far away, they will be less likely to stop by. For branches, this might be at a conference, farmers market, community center, college, or university. For student organizations tabling on campus, this could be outside the student center or in front of the dining hall.
Choose a focus. AAUW does a lot of good work, but it can be overwhelming if it’s all displayed on one table. Instead, choose a specific issue or program to focus on (such as equal pay or women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) during your tabling event. Choose an issue that will be relevant to the specific audience. For example, if you are tabling on a college campus in the fall before an election, you may want to have AAUW’s get-out-the-vote information available.
Plan an ask or two. Tabling should do more than just inform people about an issue. You also want them to take action! Once you select an issue or program to focus on, choose a specific way you’ll ask them to get involved. Ask them to attend an upcoming event, join our Action Network, or sign your most recent petition. If your tabling location has internet access and electrical outlets available, you may be able to set up a laptop for people to take action immediately at the table. If you’re tabling on a college campus that is a college/university partner, make sure you’re signing students up to become free e-student affiliates.
Recruit and train volunteers. Tabling is an easy way for new and seasoned members alike to contribute to the branch’s work. Encourage all your members to be a part of your tabling activities, and build their skills and confidence by providing training ahead of time. Fill them in on your focus, asks, and the tabling best practices shared in this resource. Then have them role-play engaging passersby and give them feedback.
Advertise your event. Put up flyers, post on social media, and send e-mails announcing when and where you will be tabling. The more people know about your table in advance, the more people will stop by.
Gather materials. Print copies of your petition, pledge, or sign-up forms. You can order a 3-by-5-foot AAUW banner, sign, or tablecloth from ShopAAUW if you don’t already have one. Make sure you have the advocacy materials and membership and program brochures and postcards you need.
Consider tabling with a video. Video is a fantastic tool to help you engage with future AAUW members and show the world what AAUW does on behalf of women and girls. Use a laptop to play the video continuously when you table; it will attract attention and add a visual element to your ask. To avoid having to rely on Wi-Fi or internet access, e-mail email@example.com or call 800.326.2289 for the appropriate video file. Before the event, find the closest power outlet, figure out whether you will need an extension cord, and practice running the video.
During the Event
Approach passersby. Make sure to have at least one AAUW member standing in front of the table who can approach people as they walk by instead of waiting for people to come to them. It helps to develop a good “stopper” line — something you can say to grab their attention and draw them toward the table. For example, lines such as “Are you worth 21 percent less?” or “Sign here for paid sick days!” may intrigue passersby enough that they stop to learn more about your work.
Make your ask. Ask them to get involved, and wait for a definitive answer. Also make sure to get their contact information so that you can keep them informed about your group’s work.
Have a giveaway. People are enticed by freebies and are more likely to stop by your table if they get something for doing so. Have AAUW-branded giveaways such as pens, highlighters, or even mints! AAUW also has plenty of stickers on different public policy issues, which you can request on our event form.
After the Event
Follow up. Get in touch with the people who took action at your table. E-mail will work, although a phone call can be more personal. The follow-up conversation is an opportunity to confirm their attendance at your upcoming event or make another ask, such as coming to a future branch meeting. After your event, don’t forget to fill out the report-back form to let us know how it went.
This post was written by AAUW Grassroots Advocacy Manager Elizabeth Holden.
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