Keeping It Fun
When planning events, remember that you are dealing with a diverse group. Some events that may appeal to some won't necessarily appeal to others. One ditch that many groups fall into is making all of their events too academic in their focus. Try to remember that you are in college, and dealing with college students. You will attract more new members if you project a fun attitude and atmosphere. Don't go so far as to alienate the academically minded, but make sure to balance out the events. You can still have the bi-weekly Bertie Russell book club, but perhaps do some movie screenings as well.
Do you like videos? So do we! Board member Evan Clark gives a quick overview on running a great meeting from the 2009 SSA conference:
- Different types of groups: exclusive, inclusive, and interfaith inclusive (none of them bad!)
- Location is critical, and make sure to reserve it!
- Use icebreakers to make members feel welcome
- Find a good moderator for group discussions
- Always make an agenda!
Pretty nifty, right? Here are some other ideas for lightening up the group:
Movie screenings provide for a great, fun, low cost event that is easily accessible to a large number of people. Most universities have auditoriums or theaters that are available for student groups to rent with no charge for such events. If this isn't the case, a screening event can simply be hosted in a dorm or at a member's house.
There are a number of movies/television shows that carry atheistic / freethought themes that lend themselves to screening, many of which are readily available through streaming services. Group members also may have DVDs that can be used for events. *Documentaries can also make for good screening material of a more serious variety*
Some ideal titles:
-Monty Python's Life of Brian
-Invention of Lying
-Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
-Inherit the Wind
-Night of the Hunter
-The God Who Wasn't There
-Fall from Grace
-Deliver Us from Evil
-Flock of Dodos
(For more examples of possible movies/documentaries to show, click here.)
Atheism and religious criticism have long found a home in stand-up comedy. Obviously showing some relevant comedy will be good for a laugh, and that never hurt anybody. Netflix typically keeps a stock of stand-up specials available for streaming, which can be played from just about anywhere. Some comics that lend themselves to screening include:
Hosting an atheist party is a great way to loosen up the group. Take advantage of holidays such as Darwin Day or the Solstice to celebrate with your fellow heathens! The May 21 supposed "rapture" saw parties thrown all over the country by atheist groups. You can even get clever with the concept: bake a Darwin fish cake! Have a spaghetti night in honor of the noodly one! Play pin the tail on the invisible unicorn! Just have fun: that is the best way to unite a group and increase membership. Don't forget that you are in college, after all!
Having some althetic activities can provide some nice variety for your group. Check out our suggestions here!
Think outside of the box!
You should know your group and their interests better than anyone. Plan events based on what they might enjoy! Better yet, ask them what sort of events would interest them! You're bound to get some interesting responses. Just be cautious to keep your group from falling into the doldrums of pure academia. If you have fun, people will come!
This page was written by Gorden Maples of the Alabama Atheists and Agnostics.