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House Meeting Guide

In this guide:

House meetings are a time-honored tactic of movement building that use a personal setting--like a home--to encourage others to join your campaign. Nearly every social movement in our nation's history utilized this tactic to build a movement for reform. This guide will walk you through the steps to planning an effective house meeting that encourages MoveOn members to join and participate in your campaign.

A house meeting is different than a monthly organizing meeting for its two distinguishing features: the setting of your home--as opposed to an office or public facility--and the central role of personal story to motivate others to join your campaign.

The process is straightforward--but read through the guide carefully to avoid common pitfalls. Be sure to print the agenda and have a copy on hand for your event.

Before your House Meeting

Step 1: Invite friends and co-workers

We will invite MoveOn members in your area to attend your event but don't depend on that to build a good crowd! The best way to invite folks is to send them an invite email and then make a follow-up phone call.

You should also call people to invite them to your house meeting. Asking personally is the single best way to get folks to attend your event. So once you’ve sent out invite emails, a follow-up call will help ensure they received and understood the email. (And of course, it’s fine to just call someone to invite them even if you don’t have an email address for them.) This is a vital step in order to have good attendance at your event.

You can also obtain a list of local MoveOn members to call. Log into the Council Page to download a list from the recruitment calling tool. This list contains the names and numbers of the most active MoveOn members in your community who have a strong interest in this campaign.

Step 2: Think through logistics

As the event host, you'll want to think through all of the logistics. Here are some things to consider:

3. Plan your Agenda

Review the suggested agenda below and make sure you and other Council leaders are ready to lead each section.

4. Create and Practice Your Story

The use of your own personal story--what motivates you to take action now--is a central element to this meeting. By telling a compelling narrative that shares your motivations, you'll encourage others to share their own and take action with you. You can use the following sentences to develop your own story.

Once you are done writing out your story, practice saying it out loud. Continue to refine your story with vivid details that evoke emotion and unearth the values that shaped your beliefs about the world. Be sure to have a solid story ready before your meeting begins.

5. Make Reminder Calls

Your guests will expect to hear from you in the 24 hours prior to the meeting. A reminder is always important to ensure attendance. You can log in to your host tools page to send an email to everyone who is signed up, reminding them what time you are starting and how to get to your house. You should also give them a reminder call. If they listed their phone numbers, that information will show up on your host tools page. Calling is a great way to check in with people who indicated in their RSVP that they can bring snacks or help out.

During your House Meeting

This section of the guide will take you step by step through the House Meeting agenda. But first, here are some quick facilitation tips:

Here is a basic agenda for the event (total time: 90 min.)

  1. Welcome, introductions and sign-in (15 min.)
  2. Share your stories (30 min.)
  3. Discuss the Other 98% Campaign and "Fight Washington Corruption" Pledge (15 min.)
  4. Explain the role of your Council and local Campaign Teams (15 min.)
  5. Next Steps and Wrap Up (15 min.)
  6. Mingle and Celebrate! (until it ends!)

1. Welcome, introductions and sign-in (15 min.)

As people arrive, you'll want them to feel welcome and comfortable. It's a good idea to have a designated "greeter"--someone who isn't dealing with any logistics or set-up, whose role for the evening is to welcome people as they arrive. A greeter asks people about themselves (e.g. "What motivated you to come tonight?") and orients them to the space (directs people to sign-in, snacks, restroom, etc.).

People can introduce themselves and talk informally as they arrive. Even if people are still trickling in, you should start the program no more than five minutes later than the start-time you advertised.

You'll want to officially introduce yourself and welcome everybody, and tell them briefly what's on the agenda for the evening. You'll want to let folks know the following:

Do a quick round of introductions, asking people to answer the below questions. (You'll want to keep this moving so that the meeting ends on time.)

Once the round is complete, dive right into the next section.

2. Share your stories (30 min.)

Before sharing yours read the following statement to your gathered participants:

Most social movements in our history began as stories--stories about the challenges we face, the choices we made, and the actions that everyday people like you and me take to create a better future for themselves, their community, and their nation. The fundamental changes we all want for America will be impossible until we end the stranglehold that big corporations and lobbyists have on our democracy. We are here today to discuss how we can build a movement to take back our democracy for the other 98% of us without corporate lobbyists. To begin, I'm going to share my own story about why I'm involved in this campaign and then encourage you to share your own story.

Share your prepared story with the gathered participants. Once you are finished, ask everyone to turn to the person next to them and share their own story of struggle and hope. If people are stuck, use these statements as prompts:

After everyone has shared their story with their partner, bring the group back together and ask one or two participants (depending on time) to share their stories with the whole group. If no one is willing to share, ask someone to share what motivated them to attend this meeting.

Close this section of the agenda with the following:

Thank you all for sharing your stories! Now that we have shared why we are here, let's talk about the Other 98% campaign and our growing movement to take our democracy back from corporate control.

3. Discuss the Other 98% Campaign and "Fight Washington Corruption" Pledge (15 min.)

Ask someone to read aloud the Other 98% campaign story.

Election 2010: Stop the Takeover

Corporate interests and their right-wing allies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to take over Congress. If they succeed, then goodbye health care and environmental laws—hello, tax cuts for the rich and Wall Street deregulation. And they're targeting progressive heroes like Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold in particular.

This fall, we need to stop corporations from defeating progressive candidates and putting the Republicans back in charge. It won’t be easy—many voters are demoralized and the Republicans are pulling out all the scare tactics they can think of. That’s why we have to organize more powerfully than ever before.

MoveOn Councils will be on the front line, leading the fight to stop the takeover. We’ll have two goals: to make sure every voter in targeted areas knows that this election is about stopping the corporate takeover of government by the Republicans, and to mobilize as many members as possible to volunteer in the crucial races.

Here’s what's ahead:

 


Ask the group: What about this campaign resonates with you? Why?

Briefly explain the member-led process that brought MoveOn members to the "Fight Washington Corruption" Pledge.

Ask someone to read aloud the "Fight Washington Corruption" Pledge. You can also find the pledge here.

Ask the group: What in this pledge resonates with you? Why?

Explain the three main goals of the Other 98% campaign:

Ask the following questions:


4. Explain the role of your Council and local Campaign Teams (15 min
)

Briefly explain how the local Other 98% campaign is being led by a local MoveOn Council.

Our campaign is organized by a local MoveOn Council--a local team of committed members who organize in the community and build leadership among MoveOn members. MoveOn Councils work together on national campaigns to push for the progressive change that our country needs. We are a strong, independent voice to keep Congress and the President honest when lobbyists and corporations stand in the way of progress. Locally, we are organizing to pressure our [insert name of local target] to sign the Fight Washington Corruption pledge. We have several teams in our Council to move this campaign forward.

Tell the participants about your Council's teams. These could include:

Ask for clarifying questions and then ask the group:

5. Next Steps and Wrap Up (10 min.)

Briefly inform everyone of the following next steps:

Take the last few minutes to thank everyone for attending and joining your local Other 98% campaign. Let everyone know about any upcoming Council events or planning meetings.

6. Mingle and Celebrate!

If people can stay longer, use this time to casually socialize and get to know each other more.

After the House Meeting

1. Fill out who attended.

You can go back to your host tools page to indicate who attended your event. If you're a MoveOn Council Coordinator, go ahead and add those attendees directly to your Council.

2. Fill out a post-event survey.

You will receive a survey in an email the night of the house meeting, and we really hope you will take the time to share your thoughts and experience with us. This is really important, because it’s the only way we get everyone’s feedback. This helps us to know what went well, and what improvements we can make for similar events in the future.


3. Thank your attendees--and send in photos from your event.

To send attendees an email, just log on to your host tools page and send your thank-you email from there. Please encourage folks to send in photos and video from the event.

Now is the time to celebrate! You’ve thrown a successful Other 98% House Meeting, and helped kick off a national campaign to rein in corporate influence in politics. Thank you for all your great work!