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Sample Year

What Is This?

Many groups find that they have some difficulty planning their year. It's hard to know how far in advance one needs to think about certain activities and events, and just combing through the Activity Packets doesn't necessarily give one an understanding of how to do it. For that reason, this Sample Year is designed to give you some idea of how to balance planning, big events, and just regular fun times with your group. Keep in mind that this sample is idealized and fictional - don't think of it as a prescription, or as a minimum standard for success. If your group can do even half of these things, you're pretty awesome!

How to Use This

As you read through, you'll notice that, for the most part, events and activities seem to move from left to right. That makes a lot of sense, in that they are conceived, planned, and then executed. The color codes are designed to help you visualize this process, and to allow you to follow a particular event from start to finish. I'll also mention that this is easiest to read in a large window.

Take special notice of the items in red. These structural planning notices are things that your group NEEDS to do to survive!

Also, keep in mind that most of the things that are under the 'Planning' column should be done in business meetings, whereas 'Public Meetings' refers more to activities and fun things for the entire group. While the two can go together, don't combine them too often!

If you find this helpful, you can print out and use a semi-blank version that includes the essential bits!

To see a schedule of Freethought holidays, please click here .

Public Meetings
Big Events
Early August

As summer winds down and school is about to start up, email group leaders and start casually discussing fall plans. Set a regular meeting time & place for the year.

Make sure you're signed up for the Student Organizations Fair! Check to see who has your group's tabling supplies, and what else you may need.

In the spring, you had planned your kickoff picnic; now you need to get your supplies together - food, drink, transport, etc. Email your listserv about it!


Late August
(School Starts)

Talk about plans for Talk Like a Pirate Day (9/19), Church-State Separation Week (Week before Thanksgiving), and a Soul Auction.

Have a kickoff picnic to ring in the new semester! Throw out some possible semester plans and gauge the response. Encourage everyone to sign up for Secular Coalition action alerts.

Student Organizations Fair - table to promote your group to new students.

Early September

Get a venue for your Soul Auction. Talk to religious groups who may be interested in participating.

Have a sign & costume-making party for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Ask members if they'd like to sell their souls at the Soul Auction, or serve as auctioneer. Discuss if this will be a fundraiser for your group or for charity.

Late September

Start advertising your soul auction. Work with religious groups to promote it to their members.

Discussion Meeting: Should the Bible be taught in schools?

On Talk Like a Pirate Day (9/19), preach the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Early October

For Church-State Separation Week, you've decided to hold a letter-writing campaign and a teach-in. Talk to professors who can give exciting talks about the dangers of religion in public life. Find a suitable location & get a permit as necessary.

Discussion Meeting: Freethought Day is Oct. 12th. Do we need a holiday for the nonreligious?

Late October

Your group should do a pre-break service project. Find a local food bank, and ask if you can come help in early December.

Fall means you should go apple picking! Take your group after the Soul Auction to congratulate yourselves.

Your Soul Auction goes swimmingly, netting your group much cash and media attention. However, some religious groups are miffed. Think about holding an Ask-An-Atheist panel for next semester.

Early November

Brainstorm for Darwin Day (2/12)

Hold a sign-making party for Church-State Separation Week.

Advertise your teach-in! Be sure to promote it to the media. To give people the chance to write angry letters, find the names and addresses of public officials. Create a form letter addressing a church-state issue of concern.

Late November

Contact possible speakers for Darwin Day & check funds. Pick venue for Darwin Day speaker & confirm their attendance.

Fun Times Meeting: Come in PJ's and make cookies! Present ideas for Darwin Day to group.

Your teach-in for Church-State Separation Week gets great media attention. One preacher tries to make a humorous speech comparing Jesus to a skateboard, but is ignored.

Talk to religious groups about co-sponsoring an Ask-an-Atheist Panel next semester. Offer to go to their meetings.

Early December

Make sure you have tabling supplies for winter Organizations Fair.

Bring your group to a food bank and help out. Afterwards, put on tacky sweaters and drink cocoa.

Late December
Early January

Find location for Darwin Day party and get volunteers.

Winter Kickoff: Go ice skating! Talk about the need for new leaders and see who wants to step up.

Table at your winter Organizations Fair & flyer on campus.

Request funds for the semester.

Late January

Advertise Darwin Day! Contact media about your speaker, and invite natural science departments.

Discussion Meeting: Why are conspiracy theories so common? Which ones might be true?

Early February

Talk to potential leaders. If they're interested and committed, start training them.

The Darwin Day party (2/12) features dancing, finger food, and your speaker in a gorilla suit.

Your Darwin Day speaker draws 150+ attendees. You mentally note that next time you should have a merchandise sale.

Late February

Brainstorm ideas for National Day of Reason (First Thursday in May); decide to host a blood drive .

You hear that a local group is holding a Skepticamp. A few members attend, and make some new friends!

Early March

Call your local blood bank to set up a blood drive. Reserve a venue on campus.

Hold elections! Doing them now gives the new leaders time to transition.

Oh noes! Your representative proposes a bill to put the Ten Commandments on the moon! Quick, print leaflets with his phone number for people to lobby him!

For your Ask-an-Atheist panel, pick panelists and confirm a venue.

Late March

Find supplies for an April Fool's Superstition Bash table.

Get people interested in volunteering for Camp Quest in the summer.

Early April

Advertise your blood drive on and off campus. Get donors.

New leader(s) should facilitate a meeting.

Your Superstition Bash is a lot of fun, and attracts new members!

Advertise your panel! Reach out to religious groups.

Late April

Make sure your new leaders are adjusting nicely, and have inherited the wisdom of previous leaders. Also see that bank accounts/checks are registered to the new leaders!

Discuss possible themes for fall Student fair.

Your Ask-an-Atheist panel goes smoothly, except for that weird skateboard preacher again.

Request funding to go the SSA's conference in August.

Coordinate with group members for a summer road-trip to the SSA conference.

Make sure that all of the necessary paperwork is filed with your school so that you're recognized next year!

Early May

Get supplies for fall Org Fair. If you can, reserve a regular meeting time & place for next year.

Have a group picnic with Frisbee.

On the National Day of Reason (First Thursday in May) you collect 42 units of blood! Send out a press release. You also have a table for people to send letters opposing "H.R. 1954 - Recognizing the Moon's Judeo-Christian Heritage".

Apply for the SSA's Best Awards - because you're awesome!

Set a preliminary time & date for your fall kickoff picnic, and notify your listserv!


Take a well-deserved summer vacation. Keep in touch with your group - have some listserv discussions, and chat on Facebook. See you at the SSA conference!

Color Code:

RED = Structural planning

PURPLE = Soul Auction

TURQUOISE = Church/State Separation Week (teach-in)

BLUE = Darwin Day (speaker/party)

ORANGE = Ask-an-Atheist Panel (panel)

FOREST GREEN = National Day of Reason (blood drive)
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