Best Practices

Below are some Best Practices from our member SANs. We welcome the opportunity to learn from one another to make our organizations better. If you have a best practice you’d like to submit, please send an email to admin@cuusan.org and answer the following questions:

  1. What is the Best Practice Activity?
  2. How did you do it?
  3. How did it go?
  4. What would you do differently?

 

From Randy Block, MSW, Director, Michigan UU Social Justice Network:

So far, my Network has organized four Justice Parties that followed the same general format. An example of this format and some examinations of the process are laid out below. For further reference, please download the Outline of Plans for our Justice Party (.docx) at the Birmingham Unitarian Church and the program we distributed for that party (pdf).

The Best Practice Activity

A fundraiser held at a UU church that invited people who paid $50 per person to attend an event that included educational speakers, entertainment (e.g., music, theater) and food that matched the interests of the host congregation and were broadly consistent with the SAN issue priorities.  Actual dollar amounts may vary but keep in mind this is a fundraiser, not just a party. The $50 was viewed as a minimum.

How did you do it?

Identify 3-5 people at a congregation who are willing to help with planning and execution of the party at their congregation. Identify a date, time, key speakers, entertainment, refreshment plans and develop a Party agenda.  Mail professional looking invitations (with reservation cards enclosed) to people identified by the planning committee as having an interest in justice and who can afford to pay the $50.  This can include people from several churches within driving distance of the home church.  Lots of publicity, including putting information in church newsletters.  Aim to collect majority of funds in advance but expect walk-ins. Thank all who helped with program, refreshments, publicity, etc. Allow at least four months planning time.

How did it go?

All of the Justice Parties have exceeded their fund raising goals, e.g., between $2,000 and $3,000. In one church, where the minister was opposed the higher priced fundraiser,  we had a panel presentation on the topic of Challenging Racism, we charged only $20/person and $25 at the door but still managed to draw a big crowd and raised $2,400.  Having quality entertainment and well known speakers or elected officials were draws.  People enjoyed themselves and were willing to be generous for a second chance to give to our UUSAN when the plate was circulated after the main program and before the evenings end. We worked with local church volunteers to plan and executive the party. That drew us closer to people in the host church.  Also, contact information for people who contributed was recorded on Excel spread sheets so we could send thank you cards. There were variations on how these parties were done based on creativity of the planning group.  Two of the host churches had memberships of about 150.  Two others were larger:  450 and 550 members.  Wine was a big hit at two of our parties! We were able to persuade people to donate the wine.

What would you do differently?

Our fundraising team will be contacting people they know at several prospective congregations to host a Justice Party in 2017.  The ideas of individuals who agree to be part of a planning committee will shape different approaches to what is a good Justice Party for their congregation. It’s important, however, not to simply have a party without having a price for tickets that will generate the needed funds.  I provided an outline of the party planning process to the committee members so they would know what to expect. At the same time, that review of plans can be a time to generate ways that the planning team would like to do their party differently.