Nationwide Rally Leadership Resources
Home Leadership Resources (Updated 9/19/12)
It takes both careful planning and a serious effort to host a successful Rally, but Stand Up Rally Headquarters is here to offer guidance and resources every step of the way.
Visit this page for help on everything from locking in your rally site to planning out your agenda for the event. Resources will be added regularly in the weeks before the October 20 Stand Up Rally, so visit this page often.
Rally Resources Table of Contents
Securing a good Rally Site
A good Rally site can make all the difference in the success of your Rally.
In this section you’ll find all the help you need to select and secure an optimal location for your October 20 event and what to do if you run into trouble securing it.
- What makes a good Rally site?
- Informing the authorities and obtaining permits
- Problems securing your site? Contact Rally Headquarters
What makes a good Rally site?
Because the threat to religious freedom in our healthcare reform laws is coming from the federal government, the March 23 and June 8 Stand Up Rallies were held primarily at federal government sites across the country, like federal courthouses and Congressional offices.
Such sites would still be appropriate for the October 20 Stand Up Rally, but other kinds of sites might also work, considering that the Rally falls on a Saturday. Also, with this third Stand Up Rally, the emphasis is more on “firing up the troops” than appealing to the government and general public to restore religious freedom, which opens up the possibility of using sites like a city park or town square.
Church grounds might also be suitable, if a good public site is not available.
If possible, choose a site that is well known, so it will be easy for people to find it. Make sure that parking is available nearby, too.
If your Rally will include a march or procession, you’ll have to pick two sites: one that is ideal for gathering the crowd, and another that will work for the closing talks and prayers.
Please contact Rally Headquarters once you have decided where to hold your rally. Please include both the name of the site, and the full address. If you’re holding a march or procession, include both the beginning and ending sites, indicating clearly which is which.
Informing the authorities of the rally and getting permits
Before informing the local police of your rally plans or seeking permits, you must first understand that our right “to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is robustly protected by the First Amendment and over two centuries of court rulings.
For that reason, depending on the size and location of your rally, you may not need to acquire permits. But it’s best to find out early on.
If you are holding the rally at a U.S. government site, do not contact the city government or local police since they do not have jurisdiction there. They may erroneously tell you that you cannot hold your rally at that site.
Instead, call the general information number at your site and ask who you need to talk to about getting a permit for a rally. You should call for this information, not email.
If you plan to hold your rally at a site that isn’t under federal jurisdiction, call the local police and explain your plans to hold a rally and provide them the date and location. Ask whether you need a permit, and how to go about acquiring one.
Whether applying for your permit from federal or municipal authorities, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Secure enough time to set up and break down your rally. With the rally being planned from Noon to 1 p.m., you should apply for a permit covering 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Be realistic with your estimated attendance. You permit applications will ask you to estimate how many will attend the event. If you can realistically expect 50 people, don’t apply for 500 and risk triggering greater restrictions on your event. But do give large enough a number that you will not have a problem if more people turn out than you really expect.
- Get permission to use a sound system. You may not have thought about getting a sound system for your rally, and you may not find you need one, but just in case, include that in your permit application.
Even if you find you don’t need a permit for your rally, you are still strongly urged to write a letter to the Chief of Police respectfully informing him or her, as a courtesy, of your plans to hold a rally. Include the date, times (including setup and break-down), expected number of participants and a general description of the rally.
Of course, if you’re holding your Rally on private property—like the grounds of a church—you do not need to contact the police at all about your plans.
Problems securing your site? Contact Rally Headquarters
Contact Rally Headquarters if you encounter any problems selecting or securing your rally site.
For example, you may be told you should have submitted your application earlier. You may even be denied the right to hold your rally outright. Don’t be deterred.
Building your local leadership team
To be the most effective Rally Captain you can be, you’ll want to seek out a team of people to help you locally. If you put together a good Rally leadership team, your job will be much easier, and your Rally is sure to be a great success.
Choose people who you know will follow through on tasks. The more tasks you can delegate to trustworthy people, the more you’re free to be a better leader.
Holding a recruitment meeting
One great way to recruit helpers for your Rally effort is to hold a recruitment meeting. Put the word out via e-mail, in your church or other places you know there will be like-minded people who will support the Rally. Make it clear that people can help even if they’re not able to attend the October 20 Rally.
At the meeting, explain the Rally effort and what kind of help you’ll need. Have a list of jobs that people can take on and explain their scope. Offer people the opportunity to sign up on the spot while they’re enthusiastic about the project.
Assigning jobs to team members
There are many different levels of involvement you can offer people with varying degrees of commitment. Jobs you could seek help with include but are not limited to:
- Media Manager: This person would be in charge of contacting the media to alert them to the Rally and for talking to reporters both in advance of and the Rally and on the Rally day.
- Social Media Manager: This person will create your event on Facebook and build buzz about it on other social networks like Twitter. If possible, this person should be available to tweet and post pictures and updates to Facebook live from the Rally as well.
- Catholic and Protestant Church Liasons: Preferably someone from each tradition who knows the structures and hierarchies of the various churches. Check the section of this page on promoting the Rally through the churches and on inviting your local bishop to speak at your Rally for more on these jobs.
- Speaker Recruiter: This person will be responsible for recruiting speakers. They should be well connected, outgoing, and known for follow-through.
- Sound and Stage Manager: This person will be in charge of obtaining a sound system and stage for your event. They will be responsible for setup and tear down of this equipment and running the sound system during the event, or at least providing someone to do that.
- Contact Manager: This person will be in charge of gathering and organizing an e-mail list and sending updates to that list. Be sure to share the Promoting your Rally through email section of this page. They can also add any names and e-mails you acquire at your Rally to grow your list of contacts for future events.
Thinking ahead to the Rally day
Be sure to think ahead to your Rally day and the myriad jobs that will need to be taken care of that day. You don’t want to find yourself shorthanded on the Rally day when you will want to concentrate on making sure everything comes together smoothly.
See the list of Rally day jobs here as well. You can recruit for these jobs as well as the preparatory jobs at your Team Recruitment Meeting.
Promoting your rally
Get the word out about the Rally through every avenue at your disposal: all your email contacts, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, church bulletins, flyers, even phone calls.
- Customizable Rally flyer to pass out in your community
- Promoting your Rally through email
- Promoting your Rally on Facebook and other websites
- Broadcast your Rally with a public service announcement (PSA)
- Promoting your Rally in the media
Customizable Rally flyer to pass out in your community
Rally Headquarters has prepared a customizable flyer that you can download and fill out with your Rally information.
Take care to follow the instructions below precisely or you may not end up with a usable flyer:
- Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, which you can find here.
- Download a copy of the flyer to your computer. The flyer will not work correctly if you try to edit it in your web browser. To download, right click the link for the version of the flyer you’re going to use and select the option to “Save link as.” When your computer asks where you want to save the file, choose an appropriate location and click “Save.”
- Open the file and read the instructions inside. Once the file has downloaded, open it using Adobe Reader. When the file has opened, you’ll see a yellow question mark. Mouse over the question mark for directions on filling out the flyer. Important: If you do not have relevant information for any of the fields, be sure to delete any “space saver” text in those fields, or it will appear on your flyer.
- Save your customized flyer. Don’t just print out your customized flyer—save it on your computer, too. Otherwise, the information you’ve filled in won’t be there next time you or someone else like a print shop opens the file.
- Print your customized flyer. The flyer is designed to be printed on regular letter paper. You can print a small number of copies on your home computer. If you need a larger quantity, consider getting them printed at a professional print shop like FedEx Office or Kwik Kopy.
The October 20 Stand Up Rally flyer is available at the link below:
You can pass out the flyer at church or at special events where interested people might be in attendance, or submit it to local churches for printing in the bulletin.
Special note on emailing the flyer: Though the Rally flyer is meant to be printed, it can also be distributed via email. Just be sure to unselect the button in Adobe Reader that says “highlight fields” to hide the fact that the document can be edited, and then save a new copy for email distribution.
Promoting your Rally through email:
Use this sample email invitation to let your local contacts know about the October 20 Rally. Whether you use this sample as is, modify it or write your own, follow these guidelines:
- Write as if you’re addressing a single person. People are more likely to respond to an individual plea (“Dear Friend”) than one addressed to a whole group (“Dear Friends”).
- Avoid using the word “we” to refer to a group that the recipient is not a part of, since that can be subtly alienating. Using “we” to mean “you and I” will help your recipients feel included.
- Keep paragraphs short—a maximum of 4 lines of normal length.
- Wait until you have your rally site confirmed before sending out any messages. Better to send your message a week later with all the info than to send it now and look like you’re disorganized.
One Week Out: A week before your rally, email all your contacts again to remind them about the event. Here is a “one week out” message you can customize for your email contacts.
Note: The sample email messages are provided in plain text format in order to make them usable on a wide variety of email systems. If you encounter problems using these files, please contact Rally Headquarters.
Promoting your Rally on Facebook and other websites
Facebook and other online communities have become essential for getting the word out about important events like the Stand Up Rally. If you’re not on Facebook or not very familiar with how to use such services as “events” or “cover photos,” it would be a good idea to enlist someone for your Rally Team who can handle this side of the promotion effort.
Facebook Event:The best way to promote your Rally on Facebook is to create a “Facebook event” and invite your friends—and ask them to invite theirs. If you’re not familiar with how to set up a Facebook event, check out the instructions here.
To help “brand” your event, Rally Headquarters has provided this event description you can customize for your October 20 Rally, as well as customized images for every Rally city. Find the event image for your city here, and follow the instructions for downloading and using it.
Once you’ve set up a Facebook event for your Rally, invite all your friends to attend and spread the word, even if they don’t live nearby. Someone in your town may learn about the Rally through a mutual Facebook friend.
But don’t just stop with one mention of the event. It’s easy to miss things on Facebook, so make a point of inviting your friends each week from now until the Rally takes place. And share the event regularly on your wall.
Summary of Facebook Resources: To help you find all of the Facebook resources Rally Headquarters has prepared for you, here’s a complete list:
- Instructions on how to create a Facebook event on the Facebook website
- Custom image for your Facebook event
- Text for the description in your Facebook event
- Instructions on how to change your Facebook cover photo on the Facebook website
- Cover photo for your personal Facebook page or your group’s Facebook page
Other websites: To publicize the Stand Up Rally on other sites, Rally Headquarters has prepared promo images in two different sizes:
How to use these images: To use the Facebook cover photo or the promo images, click on the appropriate link above. The image which will open up in a fresh browser window. Right-click on the image and select “Save image as” (exact wording my vary by browser), and save the image on your computer somewhere where you can find it easily, like your desktop. Follow the instructions at Facebook (or other sites) to upload the image.
Broadcast your Rally with a public service announcement (PSA)
Public service announcements (PSAs) on local radio are a powerful, free way to get the word out about your Rally.
Your first step is to find out what radio stations in your area offer this service, starting with the website for each station. If you don’t find the information you need, make a phone call. Find out what the guidelines and deadlines are for getting a PSA on the air.
Rally Headquarters has provided some customizable PSA scripts for both a 30-second or a 15 second announcement about your Rally.
You can often go to the local radio station to record your audio for your PSA, but if that’s not possible, most operating systems like Windows have a built-in voice recording application you could use to record from your home computer with a microphone. If you have a laptop, it likely has a microphone built in.
Be sure to ask what format the radio station wants the audio file to be and to save it in that format before sending it to them.
Promoting your Rally in the churches
Getting the word out about your Rally through the churches is absolutely critical. Churches can be your best friend for promoting our cause of religious freedom, but only if you know how to work with the structures in place in the various communities.
- Announcing your Rally in bulletins and from the pulpit
- Partnering with Protestant churches
- Partnering with Catholic churches
- Inviting the local Catholic bishop to attend your Rally
Announcing your Rally in bulletins and from the pulpit
Bulletin announcements and pulpit announcements are solid gold for drawing people out to your Rally—perhaps the most important promotional action you can take.
Rally Headquarters has provided a sample bulletin announcement you can provide to churches for their bulletin or pulpit announcements. You may also wish to have the full Rally flyer printed in the bulletin, or have copies stuffed into bulletins (offer to have volunteers do the work).
Deadlines: Most churches require text for a bulletin announcement no later than the Monday before the Sunday you wish the announcement to run. Don’t miss these deadlines for the coming weeks’ bulletins:
|Submit materials by:||For bulletin date:|
|Monday, September 17||Sunday, September 23|
|Monday, September 24||Sunday, September 30|
|Monday, October 1||Sunday, October 7|
|Monday, October 8||Sunday, October 14|
Since this is a free service, there’s no reason not to have an announcement in every church bulletin you can. every week from now until the Rally.
Be sure to follow up on sending your announcement with a phone call. If there are a lot of churches you need to reach, consider breaking up the list and having multiple members of your team make a handful of calls each.
Partnering with Protestant churches
To effectively work with all the churches in your area, it’s important to understand the differing structures of Catholic and Protestant churches, which may be unfamiliar to you.
For a Protestant church, getting to the Pastor is key, and that usually means going through his secretary. A direct phone call is best for getting attention and results.
Even better than the secretary would be a personal friend or acquaintance of the pastor. If they can make contact and broach the subject of supporting or speaking at the Rally, he will be all the more likely to support your efforts.
Some Protestant denominations have additional structures in place or might have a specific pro-life or pro-family ministry. Directors of those ministries would be excellent contacts as well.
If the pastor or anyone on his team is concerned that the Stand Up Rally will be overly partisan or anything short of the peaceful, lawful event that is planned, you can refer them to the “Rally Guidelines and Protocols” here.
Partnering with Catholic churches
Working with the Catholic churches can be a bit more complex due to the bureaucratic nature of the diocesan structure.
Even many lifelong Catholics aren’t sure who to talk to to get results. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with some offices, officials and terminology to cut through the red tape. See also the section on inviting your bishop for more details on diocesan structure.
The Respect Life Director: The Respect Life Director runs the Respect Life committee or office and they need to become your very best friend at the diocese. Respect Life may work under social justice or life and family. A look at the diocesan website or a phone call will help you figure out who you’re looking for.
The Respect Life director has the ability to get information into every parish in the diocese. This is your gateway to bulletin announcements in every Catholic Church in your area.
The Catholic Conference: You’ll also want to take advantage of the state Catholic Conference to promote the Rally. Your state’s Catholic Conference is a church agency representing the dioceses within a state in order to provide for the coordination of the public policy concerns of the church.
The executive director of the Catholic Conference, usually a layperson, serves as the liason between the world and all of the bishops in your state. He will both know what the bishops want and are capable of and will be able to help convince them that supporting your Rally and promoting it in the churches is a good idea.
You should be able to get the executive director’s contact information on the conference’s website. Give them a call and offer them the chance to be involved with your Rally.
Remember to present the Rally as an opportunity for the conference and the bishops, not a chore you want them to do for you. Emphasize the fact that the Stand Up Rally effort is in large measure a response to the bishops’ call for lay people to take public action against the HHS Mandate.
Share the Rally Guidelines: If any of the church officials you reach out to expresses concern that the Stand Up Rally will be overly partisan or anything short of the peaceful, lawful event that is planned, you can refer them to the “Rally Guidelines and Protocols” here.
Inviting the local Catholic bishop to attend your Rally
One of the most impactful speakers you have for your Rally would be the local Catholic bishop, since the bishops have shown such leadership on this issue. Not only will the bishop’s presence be an inspiration to those attending your Rally, it will help draw media.
Request the bishop’s presence with a letter to his office. You will not get results from most Catholic bishops with an e-mail, plus a physical letter shows a degree of due respect for the office of bishop.
Sample Letter: Rally Headquarters has prepared a sample letter you can modify with your Rally details to request the bishop to speak or offer a blessing. There are two versions of this letter: one for a bishop who has not yet participated in a Stand Up Rally, the other for a bishop who has already either attended or sent greetings.
Special Enclosure: Rally headquarters has also prepared a two-page document for you to enclose along with your invitation letter. Page one is a list all the bishops who have taken part in past rallies. Page two provides the Rally Guidelines and Protocols. These resources may help encourage your bishop to take part.
- Invitation to a bishop to has not participated in a previous Stand Up Rally
- Invitation to a bishop who attended or sent greetings to a previous Rally
- Enclosure: Bishops participating in past rallies + Rally Guidelines and Protocols [PDF]
Followup Phone Call: Be sure to follow up your letter with a phone call to see if your letter was received and keep yourself on the mind of those who guard the bishop’s time and resources.
Speaking of whom, be sure to bear in mind the tips on dealing with Catholic churches outlined above. In addition to those, it would be help to know about a few other things about diocesan structure:
- Local Ordinary:
- This is the technical title of the bishop of a diocese. He is the pastor of every church in his diocese and he is the point where all authority in the diocese terminates. He is also known as the diocesan bishop.
- Auxiliary Bishop:
- An auxiliary bishop is an additional bishop assigned to a diocese because the diocesan bishop needs assistance in performing all the duties of his office. Many larger dioceses have more than one auxiliary bishop. If the diocesan bishop is not available, an auxiliary would be every bit as good.In some cases, if your local ordinary is not supportive of your efforts, an auxiliary bishop who does share your viewpoint might even be a better choice. But the local ordinary should be invited first as a matter of respect.
- The Chancellor is a usually a priest, often a canon lawyer, who is the head of the chancery, the record-keeping office of the diocese. The Chancellor has direct interaction with the bishop and could be a good channel to get your request to the bishop.
- Vicar General:
- The Vicar General is the “business manager” for diocese and he is the most important person in the diocese outside the bishop. He is always a priest, sometimes an auxiliary bishop, who acts on behalf of the bishop and handles the day to day operations under the bishop’s authority. He may be the one to read a letter from the bishop if your bishop is unable to attend but sends a greeting.
The Catholic bishop will draw more people than any other single person to your Rally and his absence will be noted if he does not attend or send greetings, so put in every possible effort through all of the channels mentioned above to obtain his presence.
Earning good media coverage for your Rally
One of the major goals of the October 20 Stand Up Rally is to advance the cause of religious freedom through the media. A huge event like this, with tens of thousands of citizens gathering across the nation for a cause, provides a unique opportunity to get our message out to millions of our fellow citizens.
So it’s important to do all we can to earn that media attention. Start by reading the 10 Commandments of Media Relations by Tom Ciesielka of TC Public Relations. These rules will help you get the best cooperation from the media you can by understanding how media works and what attitudes and actions will help get your story told.
- Understanding what good press coverage really is
- Researching the media in your area
- Drafting and submitting your press release
- Talking to reporters about the Rally
- Summary of media resources
Understanding what good press coverage really means
Press coverage for the March 23 and June 8 Stand Up Rallies was truly outstanding. Hundreds of news stories were generated across all news media—TV, radio, print and online. More importantly, the message of “religious freedom” came through in every story, even some of the most biased ones.
There were some markets where the media coverage was sparse, and some media reports were heavily biased. But taken as a whole, the coverage was great.
Good media coverage doesn’t mean having every possible news outlet cover your story exactly the way you most want them to. In fact, a byword in the activist community is that “the only bad press is no press.
With good research and a disciplined effort to reach out to the media, you should be able to get good coverage in your community. But even if you don’t, celebrate whatever coverage you do get, and make up for any deficits as best you can with your noown coverage of the Rally through all of your networks.
And remember that you’re plugged into a larger nationwide movement. You deserve to be proud of the overall coverage that the event earns across the country.
Researching the media in your area
You can’t expect to get good media coverage if you aren’t really familiar with the media in your community. You probably know the call numbers of some of the local radio and TV stations and the name of the main newspaper, but now it’s time to go deeper and really get to know those media outlets.
To help you make a comprehensive list of the media in your area, check out MondoTimes.com, a directory of local media outlets. Also see if there is a local news websites like Patch.com or Examiner.com in your area. Write down website, phone numbers, email addresses and fax numbers for all these outlets.
Find out what reporters in you community have already written about the HHS Mandate controversy, or covered the March 23 or June Stand Up Rally, if one was held in your town. You should reach out to such reporters directly.
Drafting and submitting your press release
Once you’ve researched the media in your community, you need reach out to them with a press release to let them know about the upcoming Rally, especially “friendly” media like Christian radio and diocesan newspapers. Rally Headquarters has prepared a local press release template for you to spread the word about your Rally. Follow the instructions on the template carefully.
An early national press release [PDF] was issued by Rally Headquarters the first week of September. This was followed the Monday before the Rally with an updated national press release [PDF], tied to recent events.
When it becomes available, download the and fill in all the specific information for your Rally, including contact information for the local media spokesperson (either you or someone on your team). You can use the quotes in the press release as-is, or put them in your own words.
You’ll want to sent this release out twice: first to friendly media several weeks in advance of the Rally, and then several days before the Rally. Send out your press release by email, and if you can, also send it by fax (not all outlets still use the fax). That afternoon or the next morning, follow up by phone to make sure that the release was received, and that the most appropriate reporter has it in hand.
Finally, you should send out a media alert [Word DOC]—a short version of the press release—the day before the Rally to any media outlets you’ve been in touch with as a reminder of your event.
Media outreach schedule: Use the following schedule for contacting and following up with the local media about your October 20 Stand Up Rally:
- Week of September 24: Send out local press release to friendly media, and cultivate opportunities get advanced stories on the Rally
- Wednesday, October 17: Send the press release again to all local media, and then follow up by phone no later than the next morning
- Friday, October 19: Send media alert to all local media
- Saturday, October 20: Call the media before the Rally, or during it if they don’t show
- After October 20: If the media ignore your Rally, call and email afterwards to complain, and you just may earn a story after the fact
Talking to reporters about the Rally
It’s important to understand some key principles of dealing with the media, because if you don’t present them with your story in a way they can receive it, your story won’t get told. So take a few minutes to review the 10 Commandments of Media Relations right before the Rally itself.
For the day of the Rally, assign one member of your team to act as Media Liaison, someone who is well-spoken and can be counted on to engage with reporters civilly, even if a bias against the Rally is observed or suspected. All inquiries from reporters—either on site or over the phone—should be referred to that person.
The media liaison should have copies of your local press release for any reporters who show up. If you weren’t able to issue a local release, a copy of the national press release [PDF] will suffice.
When talking to reporters, make every effort to stay focused on the central issue of religious freedom. Use reporters questions as a platform for returning to this topic. Carefully read over the Media talking points [PDF] provided by Rally Headquarters.
Always ask reporters, either before or after an interview, what media outlet they work with and whether they have a card to give you. This will help you find the interview as well as give you a good contact for your next event.
Summary of media resources
Here in one convenient list are the key media resources linked to above:
- National Press Release [PDF]
- Local press release template [Word DOC]
- Local media alert [Word DOC]
- Media talking points [PDF]
- The 10 Commandments of Media Relations [PDF]
Advance preparations for your Rally
Several key aspects of your Rally have to be prepared well in advance. Special guest speakers will need to fit the Rally into their schedules. Signs and flyers take time to print. Hunting down a stage and sound system may take some days.
- Recruiting speakers for your Rally
- Rally stage and sound system
- Signs and other visuals for your Rally
- HHS Mandate Fact Sheet to Pass Out
Recruiting speakers for your Rally
Your Rally will be most successful if you can recruit some engaging speakers from a variety of backgrounds. Be sure to line up both Catholic and Protestant speakers, and invite speakers of others faiths as well, if you can.
Go to the highest person you can to attempt to secure the speaker. Don’t call the diocese’s main office if you want the bishop to speak at your Rally; find his personal secretary and start there.
Ask friends of different faiths who good candidates from their tradition or community would be.
Health care professionals, local radio personalities or prominent business owners who sympathize with our cause would all be excellent candidates. So too would articulate individuals who have been served by the kinds of charitable institutions under attack by the HHS Mandate.
You might also ask a local Protestant or Catholic university for their college President or prominent faculty, or a local Christian or Catholic high for their school principal.
Finally, women should be front and center at your Rally. If old white men dominate the stage, you can be sure the media and the left will twist the headline to portray men trying to take away women’s health care. The more young women you can get on the stage opposing Obama’s mandate the better.
Remember, any busy speaker will have their schedules booked well in advance, so start making calls for speakers immediately.
Several organizations have offered help to Rally Captains get great speakers for their Rallies:
- Christian Medical Association—423-844-1000
- Catholic Medical Association—484-270-8002
- American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists—Find a pro-life OB/GYN in your area who might be willing to speak at your Rally here or call AAPLOG at 616-546-2639.
- Silent No More Awareness Campaign—Silent No More seeks to give post-abortive women who regret their decision a voice. Find your regional coordinator here.
- Alliance Defending Freedom—800-TELL-ADF.
Other organizations you might consider contacting for speakers could include:
- Focus on the Family
- Faith and Freedom Coalition
- Christian Dental Association
- Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
- National Association of Evangelicals
- Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Speaker Contact Info: As you recruit speakers for your Rally, be sure to get complete contact information for each, so you can stay in touch as the Rally approaches. It’s especially important to have a mobile phone number for each speaker, in case you need to find them in the crowd on Rally Day.
Speaker Followup: A few days before your Rally, contact each speaker by phone or email to remind them about the Rally and let them know where they fit into the Rally program.
Rally stage and sound system
Rally Stage: Even for a small Rally, some kind of stage area is advantageous. This could be as simple as having your emcee and guest speakers on the capitol steps, or as sophisticated as a rented stage, complete with steps and a backdrop.
A competent volunteer carpenter might be willing to build a simple wooden stage raised a foot or two off the ground. Stage platforms are also fairly inexpensive to rent from a local rental facility.
Sound System: Depending on the size of your rally, may need to employ a sound system.
For a larger crowd—say, 100 or more—a public address sysatem (P.A.) is ideal. Your church, local pro-life group or civic organization may have one you can borrow, or you can rent a P.A. from a local rental company or music store.
For a smaller crowd a megaphone, also called a “bullhorn,” will suffice. Local pro-life activists may have one you can borrow, or you can buy one for about $100 from Radio Shack (refurbished models are much cheaper).
In a pinch, especially if amplification is not allowed, multiple walkie-talkies can be strategically distributed throughout the crowd to broadcast the event from the stage.
If you use sound amplification, you may run into problems with local noise ordinances—especially if your Rally is being held at a courthouse, where it is important not to interrupt court proceedings. It is hoped that the because the Rally is taking place during the noon lunch hour, this won’t be a problem.
If you obtained a permit, you will already have requested permission to use a sound system. Still, the police may ask you to turn it down, and you should comply with such reasonable requests (see “Working with Police,” below).
Signs and other visuals for your Rally
One of the reasons that the March 23 and June 8 Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies were so successful at hitting the “reset” button on the HHS Mandate controversy was the signage used at those rallies and then depicted in hundreds of news stories across the country. Photographs of crowds holding the blue “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” and red “Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate” have become associated with the HHS Mandate issue and are being used by the media frequently.
For the October 20 Stand Up Rally, a third sign is being added to the lineup, in green, reading “Vote for Life and Liberty.” These signs will be provided at no cost to the local Rally Captain for any Rally added to the map before October 11.
If your Rally was added to the lineup after that date—or you believe need more signs than you were provided—you can download the print-ready PDF files for use at a local print shop. The signs are 22″ x 14″, a common size for such signs:
- “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” sign [PDF]
- “Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate” sign [PDF]
- “Vote for Life and Liberty” sign [PDF]
Having these beautifully produced signs on display at the Rallies along with handmade signs from each local group conveyed the message that this is both a united national effort and a true grassroots movement.
As you’re preparing signs for the Rally, remember the importance of keeping our message focused on religious freedom. All our signs and banners—along with the speeches at each Rally—should emphasize that message. If we put the focus on contraception, Obamacare, electoral candidates or any of the other topics surrounding the HHS Mandate controversy, we risk being dismissed as political partisans or religious extremists.
Handmade Signs: The following slogans are suggested for handmade signs:
- Protect the First Amendment
- We Stand with the Bishops
- Religious freedom for all Americans
American flags: Make your Rally even more visually appealing by distributing 12″ x 18″ American flags to the crowd. These can be purchased inexpensively in bulk at party supply stores and online retailers.
Balloons: Link your Rally in with the famous “Pro-Life Flash Mobs” with loads of yellow balloons with the word “LIFE” or the phrase “LIFE & LIBERTY” printed on them in big block letters. A local party store can print the balloons and provide helium for blowing them up.
HHS Mandate Fact Sheet to Pass Out
Rally Headquarters has prepared an HHS Mandate Fact Sheet [PDF] for you to distribute to passersby with questions and answers on the HHS Mandate, plus some practical action items for continuing the fight.
You should print out at least 100 copies of the Fact Sheet, even for a very small Rally—you can distribute extras to the crowd for them to share.
Beyond that, print off about 20% more than your best, most optimistic guess at how many people will attend your Rally. For example, if you’re hoping for 250 people, print 300 copies. And again, extras can be sent off with the crowd after the Rally.
There is also a Spanish version of the HHS Mandate Fact Sheet [PDF] you can use if you think your Rally will have a large Spanish-speaking presence.
Rally Day plan and program
With the advanced planning accomplished—or well underway—it’s time to turn to the specific details for the Rally Day itself:
- Special Jobs to Assign to Your Helper
- Outlining the Rally Day program and Emcee role
- Prayers and hymns for the Rally
- Register voters during the Rally
- Action items for your Rally attendees
Special Jobs to Assign to Your Helpers
Several of these jobs are important enough to be explained in greater detail in the sections below (follow the links in this list):
- Sign Distributor(s) to help you pass out all your signs. You can ask some of the first people to arrive to help with this job.
- Leafleter(s) to distribute the HHS Mandate Fact Sheet [PDF] to Rally attendees and the general public. Pick extroverts, and remind them to smile, look people in the eyes and say, “This is for you” or “I have some important information for you,” or the like
- Master of Ceremonites (Emcee) to keep the program moving smoothly (this could be you)
- Photographer to shoot lots of pictures of the special, attendees, passersby, etc.
- Videographer to shoot footage of the special guests and (optionally) record interviews
- Media Liaison to whom all inquiries from reporters will be refered
- Police Liaison who will be the sole person to work with the police
- Head Counter to take an accurate count of how many people attend the rally (including infants and children!)
Outlining the Rally Day program and Emcee role
There are two keys to ensuring your Rally runs smoothly: (1) choose a good Master of Ceremonies (emcee) and (2) put together an exciting, focused, detailed Rally agenda.
Quite likely you, the Rally Captain, would be the most appropriate emcee. Other options include another member of your leadership team or a local Christian radio personality. The emcee will be responsible for:
- Calling the Rally to order,
- Introducing the person offering the opening prayer,
- Introducing each of the special guests (speakers, singers, etc.)
- Introducing the person offering the closing prayer, and
- Closing the Rally with action items.
The bulk of your program will most likely be brief speeches and prayers from the special guests you’ve lined up. So it’s important that you encourage your guest speakers to emphasize religious freedom in their talks.
It’s not that we can’t touch on the fact that the Mandate treats fertility like a disease, for example, or that the Obama Administration seems to be deliberately trying to marginalize the Church. But the emphasis should be clearly on religious freedom, the most “winning issue” that we have.
In addition to prayer, hymns and speeches, you might fill our your program with:
- A reading of the First Amendment.
- A reading of the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence.
- Scripture readings (especially the Psalms, like Psalm 10, or Matthew 10:12-16)
- Quotes from religious leaders and others on the HHS Mandate.
Draw out a detailed agenda for the Rally, with each item—the opening and closing prayers, each individual speaker, every hymn or song or other activity—spelled out, in order, with the time alloted to each.
It’s also a good idea to factor in some “slop” time—for example, a few more minutes for each speaker than you really need—so that you don’t fall behind.
Share the agenda with your special guests in advance so they know where they fit into the program. However, it’s best not to tell them exactly when they’re speaking, lest any delay in the program cause them to become impatient. But do let each guest how long you expect them to have the stage.
Prayers and hymns for the Rally
You are encouraged to ask clergy to offer opening and closing prayers for your Rally. To highlight the ecumenical nature of the Rally and emphasize the religious unity behind the effort to stop the HHS Mandate, you may wish to have prayers offered by clergy of different faith traditions—for example, a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor.
The clergy you ask to offer prayers may wish to compose their own, or you may choose to use the prayers below, which were composed especially for the Rally by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. These prayers are suitable for any Christian audience, and can be offered by laymen if clergy are not available.
Offering some music and hymns during your Rally can help keep the Rally program interesting and encourage involvement form those in attendance. See if a high school band, talented singer or choral group is willing to perform during the Rally.
For any group song or hymn, you need a song leader to start things off and keep everyone singing. Appropriate songs and hymns include:
- “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
- “God Bless America”
- “The Star Spangled Banner”
- “Amazing Grace”
- “America the Beautiful”
Register voters during the Rally
To defeat the HHS Mandate may require electoral change: new leadership in Congress and the White House committed to restoring religious freedom. Depending in the registration deadlines in your state, the October 20 Rally may be an ideal time to prepare for that eventuality by registering people to vote.
Our friends at United in Purpose, a group dedicated to promoting traditional American values, have provided some great resources for this, which you can learn all about right here.
Action items for your Rally attendees
During your Rally, the emcee should call upon the crowd to take special action to build on the momentum of the Rally—things for them to do, starting right then and there, to support the Rally effort, stay involved and keep the pressure on to stop the HHS Mandate:
- Sign onto the Stand Up Rally effort
- Tweet about the Rally on Twitter
- Support the Stand Up Rally with a donation
- Spread the word about the HHS Mandate
- Distribute voter guides
- Get out the vote for candidates you believe in
- Get people to commit to taking action
Sign onto the Stand Up Rally effort
Several times during the program, encourage everyone to stay involved with this fight and other local pro-life efforts by signing on to be a part of the effort. This is your opportunity to build up a database of motivated people.
Choose one of the following methods for gathering signups:
- Use a signup sheet [PDF] with clipboards and plenty of pens or pencils or
- Pass out postcards [PDF] printed on perforated postcard paper and ask people to fill them out or
- Ask people to to write their names, email addresses and zip codes on simple index cards that you provide.
Which of these methods you choose depends on how much time you have to prepare and how many people you expect to attend the Rally. For example, sign-up sheets become impractical if there is a very large crowd, but printed postcards might be too complicated to pull off, making index cards a simple solution.
Attendees can also sign up by visiting the Rally website at StandUpRally.com. Smartphone users can even scan the QR code on the printed Rally signs to get to the site.
Tweet about the Rally on Twitter
Twitter is a social media website where people post short messages of 140 characters or fewer, called “tweets.” Increasingly, media outlets are keeping tabs on what people are “tweeting” about, and this is driving what stories they decide to cover.
Even if you’re not a Twitter user yourself, many attending your Rally will be. In fact, some of them will have Twitter accounts on their smart phones, so they can start “tweeting” about your Rally right away. You can get a free Twitter account here and learn how to use it here.
Your emcee can use the following script to encourage people to “tweet” about your Rally early on in the program:
If you’re a Twitter user, you can help expand the impact of today’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally by tweeting about the Rally.
More and more, media outlets are keeping tabs on what people are “tweeting” about, and this is driving what stories they decide to cover. Sometimes, they care more about Twitter than our press releases!
The more “tweets” and “re-tweets” we can generate across the country today and throughout the weekend, the more likely today’s Rally is to be covered by both local and national media.
Please tweet about today’s Rally using the hash tag “StandUpRally.” If you have a smart phone, you can start tweeting right now.
You can also help by re-tweeting good comments you see from around the country under that hash tag, “StandUpRally.”
The emcee should remind Twitter users to tweet about the Rally at least twice more during the Rally:
Remember, Twitter users, you can increase the buzz surrounding today’s Stand Up Rally and draw media attention to the religious freedom issue by tweeting with the hash tag “StandUpRally”—right now, later today and throughout the weekend.
This script is also available as a separate document you can download and print: Twitter Script [PDF].
Support the Stand Up Rally with a donation
Give people the opportunity to help cover your Rally costs with a financial gift by “passing the hat” for a goodwill offering. Remember, you’re not “begging”; you’re giving people who want to help a worthwhile, concrete way to do so.
How to collect donations? There are several ways you could facilitate collecting these donations:
- Have volunteers go through the crowd with coffee cans
- Set up a special table, manned by volunteers, to accept donations
- Give out donation envelopes when handing signs out to Rally participants
Surplus donations? Consider helping Rally Headquarters. If you collect donations at your Rally over and above your Rally costs, please consider helping defray some of the substantial Rally costs undertaken by the Pro-Life Action League (the signs alone cost tens of thousands of dollars). Please send to:
Pro-Life Action League
Attn.: Paige Scarlett, Development Director
6160 North Cicero Ave, Ste. 600
Chicago, Illinois 60646
Donations script: To help you make this pitch for donations, Rally Headquarters has prepared the following script for your emcee:
Thank you again for coming out today to stand up for our religious freedom! I’d like to let you know about a special way you can help support this effort and keep the fight for religious freedom going.
As you can imagine, today’s Rally didn’t come about without some big costs, both here in [Rally City] and across the country, from permits and equipment to the protest signs you’re holding.
Both the local organizers of the [Rally City] Rally and the national Stand Up Rally Coalition were so convicted of the need for an event like this, just a few weeks before Election Day, that we opened up our own wallets to make this nationwide protest of the HHS Mandate possible.
Please consider making a gift of $5, $10 or more to help defray these substantial costs, and help keep this grassroots effort alive.
You can make a gift of cash or make out a check to [Rally Captain or group; or the Pro-Life Action League].
[Use one of the next three paragraphs, depending on your method of collection donations.]
[Either:] Volunteers are working through the crowd right now with coffee cans to receive your gift.
[Or:] Volunteers are available to receive your gift at [indicate where they are: a special table, central location, etc.].
[Or:] Please use the donation envelope your received earlier to offer a gift. Volunteers will be moving through the crowd to collect your envelope or provide envelopes for those who need them.
Thank you again for your commitment to the cause of religious freedom and for considering making a special gift to advance this cause.
This script is also available as a separate document you can download and print: Donations Script [PDF].
Spread the word about the HHS Mandate
Believe it or not, many people of faith have still not heard about the HHS Mandate and how it undermines our religious freedoms. We have to reach as many of these people as we can over the coming weeks.
Encourage the crowd to print off copies of the HHS Mandate Fact Sheet [PDF] from the Rally website to pass out at church, at work and in the neighborhood. You and your team can also pass out copies yourself to all who attend your Rally.
Distribute voter guides
You are likely to have received a bundle of voter guides on the presidential election from one of our partner organizations. Bring these to your Rally and encourage attendees to take copies to pass out to friends and family. You can also look for voter guides on other races to copy and pass out.
Note:Any voter guides mailed to your or linked on the voting resources page are “501(c)(3) friendly,” which means you legally pass them out anywhere, even at church.
Get out the vote for candidates you believe in
The difference in Election 2012 is going to come down to boots on the ground: volunteers who are willing to make phone calls, walk precincts and get out the vote on Election Day. Encourage your Rally attendees to volunteer for the campaigns of candidates pledged to overturning the HHS Mandate and restoring religious freedom in the United States.
Note: If you are organizing your Rally under the auspices of a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, you should not specifically name which candidates people should volunteer for; however, you are well within your rights to encourage such volunteerism in a general way.
Get people to commit to taking action
One of the best ways to ensure that people will follow through taking this kind of action is to get them to commit to it on the spot. Your emcee should call on people to raise their hands—or even shout out—to pledge their commitment to follow through on each of the action items above.
For example the emcee could say, “Who’s willing to commit, right now, to passing out 20 HHS Mandate Fact Sheets next week—raise your hand?” or “Let’s hear a cheer from all those who are going to volunteer for a worthy political campaign before Election Day!”
Documenting your Rally and sharing the news
It is critical for you to carefully document your Rally so that you can spread the word about what was accomplished in your city. And if the local media give scant or no coverage to the event, it becomes urgent to disseminate your own account, photos and videos through every possible channel.
- Take lots of photos of your Rally
- Shoot video of your Rally
- Take an accurate headcount
- Post your Rally report on the Stand Up website
- Keep track of news stories about your Rally
Take lots of photos of your Rally
Choose a camerman who knows how to use his or her camera, including how to take a nicely composed picture, how to dowload images off the camera to a computer or tablet and how to upload them to Facebook, Picasa, Flickr or another photo sharing site.
The camerman’s only job should be taking pictures, and he or she should take lots of them. It takes dozens of shots just to get a few good ones, and nobody ever lamented taking too many pictures.
Remind the cameraman to charge up the camera battery before the Rally (and a spare, if possible) and to make sure the camera memory card is completely empty (a spare card is always a good idea, too).
If you expect a very large Rally and have the manpower, assign two cameramen: one to shoot the action on stage, and one to shoot the crowd and general public.
Shoot video of your Rally
If possible, assign a videographer to take footage of the Rally and, possibly, conduct interviews of your special guests and random attendees. As with the cameraman, choose someone who knows how to use his or her camera, how to dowload videos off the camera to a computer or tablet and how to upload them to YouTube, Vimeo or another video-sharing site.
The videographer’s only job should be taking video footage, and he or she should be filming continuously.
Remind the videographer to charge up the camera battery before the Rally (and a spare, if possible) and to make sure the camera memory card is completely empty (a spare card is always a good idea, too).
If you expect a very large Rally and have the manpower, assign two videographers: assign two cameramen: one to shoot the action on stage, and one to tale “B-roll” of the crowd and general public.
Take an accurate headcount
It is important to take an accurate headcount at your Rally. Your count will be added to all those from around the country to show how widespread opposition is to the HHS Mandate. An accurate count will also help to compare the October Rally with those held on March 23 and June 8.
Don’t just take a guess at how many people are in attendance. Even experienced activists will typically underestimate the size of crowds smaller than about 200 people, but overestimate larger crowds.
You can’t get a good headcount without actually counting. That’s why it’s important to assign someone the job of headcounter.
There are two ways to get a good count, depending on roughly how large the crowd is:
Option 1: Count every person in a crowd of up to a few hundred. Be sure to include children and babies in your count. You’ll be surprised at how far off your “best guess” was when you actually take a count.
The headcounter and a helper might mentally split the crowd in half and each count one of the halves, and then add them together.
Option 2: Count “samples” for larger crowds. For crowds more than a few hundred it becomes difficult to count each individual participant. In fact, this difficulty may signal that you should instead use the “sampling” method.
Sampling means mentally breaking the crowd into several roughly equal pieces, counting the people in a few of those pieces, averaging them, and extrapolating the headcount from there.
For example, if your Rally takes place in a large plaza, the “squares” of concrete might make a perfect grid for dividing the crowd up. Count the people in a few of those squares, average those counts, and then multiply by the the number of squares your crowd covers.
Only rely on a headcount from the media or police if absolutely necessary. Both police officers and reporters have jobs to do at an event like this, and cannot devote the time necessary to take a headcount. Moreover, experience shows they tend to badly underestimate crowds, so only use their headcount if you cannot take your own.
Send your headcount to the rally headquarters as soon as possible. Ideally, you’ll be able to report your headcount during your Rally, so it can be shared with other rallies around the country via Facebook and Twitter. Either email your headcount to ejs@ProLifeAction.org or text it to 773-251-8792.
Your headcount will be posted on the Rally website and included in the counts going out through Facebook and Twitter on October 20.
Post your Rally report on the Stand Up website
Stand Up Headquarters has provided an account for you on the Stand Up Rally blog so you can share a report of your October 20 Rally. Please read carefully through the detailed instructions the for posting this report, which covers everything from the kinds of details to include to embedding photos and video.
Note: You may not be able to post your complete Rally report right away, but you should at least write down some notes before the end of the day on October 20, while your memories are still fresh.
Keep track of news stories about your Rally
Keep a list of links to all the media stories that you find. To help keep this list organized, record both the link to the story and the headline of the story. You should also take note of the reporter’s name for future reference: here’s someone who is interested in our mission and has a vested interest in keeping up with future developments.
Clip out any hard copies from the local newspaper and save them in a safe place.
Dealing with police and opposition
In addition to presenting a great Rally program for all the faithful people who arrive on October 20, you also want to be prepared for others who may be present:
Working with police at the Rally
Generally speaking, the police will be cooperative and friendly. They’re there to keep the peace and ensure that your civil rights—including your rights to freedom of speech and assembly—are respected.
Choose a specific police liaison to whom all police interaction will be referred. This should not be the Rally emcee, who will be busy on stage, but one person who will be available to police at any time.
The police liaison should have the police non-emergency number on speed dial—so pick a liaison with a reliable mobile phone. Also on speed dial should be the number of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center: 312- 782-1680.
Always treat the police with utmost respect. Let them talk first, and do not interrupt. Nothing turns a law enforcement officer against you more quickly than being interrupted.
Do your best to comply with reasonable directives from police, but don’t give them the opportunity to restrict your activities or location by asking too many questions. For example, if they ask you to reduce the volume of the P.A., do so, but don’t go out of your way to seek approval for the new volume level, risking an order to turn it down more.
If you believe a particular officer is making unreasonable demands, call the police non-emergency number and ask for a superior officer to come out. Do not ask the officer to do this: do it yourself.
Attorneys from the Thomas More Society (312-782-1680) will be available during the Rally hours, if you face a dispute with police that you are not able to resolve on your own.
In the unlikely event that you cannot resolve a dispute with the police, it is wiser to “obey today and sue tomorrow.” But don’t tell the police that this is your intention. Respectfully say that you believe the order is unjust, but that in the interests of moving forward with the Rally, you will comply.
But again, your interactions with police are likely to be positive. So after the Rally, be sure to thank them for being there and keeping things safe.
Dealing with Rally counter-protestors
Many first-time rally organizers are concerned about having to face opposition in the form of counter-protesters, but the truth is that you are unlikely to face this challenge. Despite all the media coverage of left-wing groups like the Occupy movement, the grassroots reach of the pro-life movement is far greater.
But even if counter-protesters appear, conflict is unlikely. They’ll hold their signs and chant their chants, while you conduct your Rally. If you have a permit for the Rally space, you’ll have the advantage of the police having legal grounds to keep them at a distance.
If opposition does disrupt the Rally, call the police to take care of it. If violence is threatened in any way, immediately call 911.
Don’t let Rally participants “mix it up” with the opposition. Conversations are okay, but screaming matches are not. The goal of any interaction with opponents should be to charitably share our message and open doors.