How to Start a
Where to Start
local group can be run by two or three people or very many more. Some groups
have 50 people plus but more often than not there is a hard core of up to 6
people who do all the organising and work involved in keeping the group going.
Other people, while wanting to come along to support events, may not want to
dedicate a lot of their time and effort to the group.
groups evolve as a campaigning group undertaking demonstrations, leafleting
sessions, stalls, etc. Others may want to simply provide information or evolve
as a social group visiting restaurants, going for walks, etc. with like-minded
people. Whatever you do, it is always going to be better than doing nothing so
give yourself a pat on the back for just being there. It is surprising how much
influence a social group will have. For example, regular visits to different
restaurants encourage those establishments to provide vegan food.
very first step should be to contact our Contacts Coordinator. Find out more.
Your First Step
Organise a meeting to get everyone together. An
informal meeting will help you to find out what people feel about having a new
local group without committing yourself to anything. You might find that there
are 30 people queuing up to help. On the other hand there could be only 2 or 3.
the first meeting as cheaply as you can to avoid getting into debt before you
even start e.g. postcards or posters in libraries, wholefood shops, newsagents,
schools, colleges, universities, tourist information centres, health centres, etc. If you can get some
free advertising space in the local paper or on the local radio station all the
yourself plenty of time, its best not to advertise a meeting at short notice
and remember some newspapers need a notice to be submitted several weeks in
advance so check their deadlines.
can submit an event for our Events
page (contact the office with details of the event).
could also publish an e-mail address on your
advertisements so that people can contact you if they
would like more details. If you don’t
want to publish your normal private e-mail address you can easily create a
separate e-mail account.
is worth contacting kindred groups too.
For example many environmental
groups have vegetarian or vegan members and members of local animal welfare
groups might also be interested in a veggie/vegan or vegan group.
the first meeting in a small hall, a pub, or a veggie/vegan restaurant or
hotel. It is best not to use your own home - especially if you don't know who
will be turning up or even how many! A neutral place may mean more people turn
up to the first meeting. Some people do not like visiting unfamiliar houses and
feel safer in a public place.
What to Achieve at the first Meeting
should you achieve at the first meeting? There are several areas to cover.
Firstly, try to decide amongst yourselves what sort of group you want to be.
Ask people what they would like to do as individuals. Some like fundraising,
others are happy to talk to the media or be involved with publicity work, some
can cook and others like to do secretarial work. There will be people who
thrive on campaigning and being 'up front' while others prefer to work in the
background without drawing too much attention to themselves. All these
strengths are necessary for a strong group to grow. Make a note of all that was
said at the meeting (Minutes of the Meeting), including what you want to do as
a group, and type them up so at the next meeting everyone will know what was
said and newcomers will not feel left out. You may want to leave it until the
next meeting before you decide on organising an event, or if everything is
going well and you are all enthusiastic you may want to organise something
immediately. A list of ideas on what your group can do is given later.
the very end of the meeting ask for donations (say 50p-£1 each) to cover the
cost of the hall and any advertising
you have done for the meeting. Then make a note of everyone's telephone
no/address/e-mail and organise details of the next meeting. This is very
important otherwise you may not see any of them ever again!
Is it necessary to have a Treasurer,
there are enough of you and you are organising lots of events, it is a good
idea to appoint various people to do specific jobs such as:
Treasurer: to hold the bank account
book, bank money, keep basic accounts.
Secretary: to take minutes, keep
contact details of people, organise meetings.
there are enough of you may want to create further positions such as a Publicity Officer, Campaigning Officer,
Membership Officer, Editor, Fundraising Officer or Information Officer.
Some Ideas for Group Activities
Leafleting high streets, shopping centres,
Demonstrations (leafleting with banners)
Talks to local schools, colleges, womens groups, health centres, etc.
Cookery demonstrations at other groups e.g. Guides/Scouts, yoga, WI
Food tasting evenings
Social events e.g. rambling, meals at alternate homes, vegan "cheese"
and wine tasting evenings, etc
Fundraising e.g. jumble sales, boot sales, garage sales, etc
Letter writing to local papers, magazines, etc.
Information stalls at fetes, fayres, fleamarkets, shopping centres, etc
Producing vegan guides to your area
Producing newsletters, leaflets, posters
Organising regular meetings with speakers
Catering at local events
Organising a parent/toddler group
Organising bulk/co-operative buying of food for the group
Organise something for World Vegan Month which starts on 1st November each year
Organise a regular dining club
Getting local restaurants to provide vegan meals and getting shops to supply
Media and Publicly Work
Media or Press Releases
media or press release is just a way of informing newspapers, radio stations,
TV and magazines of any events or news. There are fairly standard ways of
writing these releases and by adhering to these a few basic rules you will have
more chance of your release being published.
You must make sure you include the
following points in your press release:
Embargo (a date when it can be published)
Headline to give them an idea what it is all about
2 or 3 paragraphs detailing the event remembering to include dates, times,
Contact name and telephone number (they won't want a PO Box)
sure it is typewritten. Don't leave in mistakes. Make it neat and clear. If you
can rope in a local celebrity to help you all the better — although sadly vegan
celebrities are hard to come by!
are also a good thing to include and newspaper editors seem to favour stories where there is a quote from
someone for example
Jane Smith of X vegans who has
organized the fair says “more and more people are interested in compassionate
group website is a really good idea with so many people using the internet. There are many things you can include on your
website such as events listings and group news as well as information on where
to get vegan food and even members' favourite recipes (to show non vegans just how good
vegan food is).
Writing to Newspapers
writing is an inexpensive way of obtaining publicity in local newspapers. Items
in the news often present opportunities to put forward the vegan viewpoint.
Below is a list of points to follow when writing to the Letters Page or Editor
of your local newspaper.
Reply to letters/articles that have already been printed
Research the subject before you reply so you don't contribute inaccurate
Write clearly or type your letter
Be brief and to the point. A letter which is 5 pages long won't get printed and
may not even get read
State clearly that your letter is for publication at the top
Always include your name and address. Most newspapers do not print your full
address (only your town of city) but if are unsure or you don't want your name
and address printed at all then state 'not for publication' next to them
Writing to Companies, Schools, etc
letters to companies which produce food, footwear, clothing, toiletries and
cosmetics. Ask them for a list of their products suitable for vegans. If they
don't have any, ask them to produce some! Don't forget to define veganism -
some may not have a clear idea. Companies do take notice of their customers -
you will be surprised at the long term effect a few letters can have.
shops to buy in certain vegan foods. As well as encouraging them to sell vegan
items, don't forget to thank them if they get a new vegan line in stock.
to schools and colleges and ask them if they would like you to supply
information packs on veganism for teaching purposes. The Vegan Society produces
an educational interactive CD ROM and runs a schools speakers program.
Funding Your Group
need money to run a group (for leaflets, posters, magazines, to hold meetings
(if hiring a hall), photocopying, postage, etc). So unless you have a
particularly rich benefactor it is a job you must organise
as soon as possible.
groups charge a membership fee which goes towards the group’s costs; this may
be an annual fee or a fee per meeting.
are lots of ways of raising funds and most involve an element of hard work. You
can, however, combine fundraising with other events such as information stalls.
Some tried and tested examples of fundraising are:
Organise information stalls in the high
you want to collect money you will need to obtain a permit from your local
council and you may also need permission to distribute leaflets or hold the
stall (sometimes councils have allocated spaces for stall). It very much
depends on your local council.
Stalls at Event
stalls at local fetes, fayres, boot sales, church events, green fairs, animal
sanctuary open days, etc. As well as providing leaflets, information sheets and
recipes you can also sell things such as second hand books, books on
veganism/animal rights, vegan toiletries and cosmetics. You could also run a
cake stall and sell vegan biscuits, cakes, flapjacks, etc. that your group has
Fairs/Free Vegan Food Events
a grander scale you could organise
your own cruelty free fare or information day. Get groups along from other
local societies such local green groups, animal rights groups, hunt sabs, etc
to pay a nominal fee for a stall and/or you could make a small charge on the
door (for example adults 50p, children free). You could organise fundraising gigs, a video showing, a talk
or a cookery evening. You can have tombola and/or raffle at these events too
(you need a raffle license from you council if you are selling raffle tickets
in advance). For raffle prizes you could
off with vegan cakes, books, etc or contact vegan companies to see if they will
donate a prize.
Vegan Food Events are becoming incredibly popular and are great for getting
people to try vegan food (which is often the hard part). See the Food Fairs page for more details.
Special Note about VEGAN FOOD
note that selling tasty vegan food is very profitable and highly recommended.
The way to a human heart is nearly always via their mouth with something chocolaty!
Remember you can contact the Vegan
Society for leaflets and posters.
Local Veggie/Vegan Guides
Writing a local
veggie guide is an excellent thing to do as a common barrier to veganism is the
perception that people won’t be able to find vegan food. A local guide makes it easier for people to
join the vegan masses.
proved very popular not only with local people but also for those visiting the
area for holidays, weekends, etc. The guide can contain details of vegan
B&Bs, hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, in fact anywhere that provides or
sells vegan food and other goods. For example, you could include good
Decide what sort
of guide you want. Do you want it to be just a guide to eating out or one that
includes places to stay and where to buy toiletries, clothes, shoes, etc? Here
is a list of ideas for material to include:
restaurants, pubs, cafes, delicatessens, supermarkets, wholefood shops, etc.
• Places to buy
toiletries, cosmetics, shoes, clothes, etc.
• Details of
your group, membership
• Details of
• Basic map of
from local businesses to help you cover your costs
Advertising your finished booklet is important so
write/visit with a copy to the following places:
Societies and groups
• Local media
• Local tourist
• Local shops
such as newsagents, wholefood shops, etc.
companies where staff have shown an interest in your group
• Stalls at
animal rights events countrywide
Vegan Society Local Contacts
Why Become a Vegan Society Local Contact?
Contacts act as points of contact for those interested in veganism or the
Society. They do as much or as little as
they are able. Some work as part of a group; others work alone. They can be a
source of support for a lonely vegan who just wants a chat or they can actively
promote the vegan message by leafleting, talking to the media,
organising events, etc.
can request free literature and posters for stalls library displays etc. You will also be listed in back of the
Magazine and on our website in our Local Contacts list.
You can also request extra help from us such as help with press releases
or letter writing.
Find out more here.