How to Host an Event
In order to introduce the maximum number of people to homeschooling, Homeschool Now USA has partnered with School Choice Week to have all our get-to-know-homeschooling events listed on their website. Over 100 million people last year heard about various school choice options, but homeschooling was minimally represented. This year let’s have a strong presence so more American families can find out about homeschooling and decide if it’s the best option for their children.
Would you like to host an event to introduce people to homeschooling? You’ll find helpful tips, tricks, and resources below.
1. Sign up as a homeschool meeting host
You’ll receive helpful email updates and you’ll find everything you need to plan your meeting on this website—starting with a timeline and including a meeting outline, presentation, poster, and other great publicity tools. You can request free printed handouts (including your state’s homeschool law) for your audience and can participate in an online training event. Whether you envision a simple, informal gathering of a few families in your living room or a much larger group in a more public venue, you’ll be able to easily adapt these resources to help make your preparation and actual meeting run smoothly. Simply fill out this form to get started.
2. List your event online
School Choice Week: Add your event to the School Choice Week website. This will provide your event with free national publicity and instantly connect you with potential attendees in your area. If you wish to hold a smaller, more personal meeting, simply indicate in your event listings and other publicity materials that “space is limited to [maximum number of attendees].”
3. Attend a host orientation event
Homeschool NOW USA - Information Meeting Training occurs several times each year. As National School Choice Week 2018 approaches, we will post more information about how you can attend one of our training events.
In the meantime, we invite you to watch a free recording of one of our previous sessions. This online training will walk you through the process of running a meeting from start to finish and show you how to use the tools provided on this website. Watch the training event.
4. Find a location
If you are interested in hosting a larger meeting, identify three to five locations that have the room and capacity you need for your event. A couple of ideas are restaurants, libraries, churches and businesses. Consider parking, access, central location to your audience, and how easy it is to find. (If Google can’t accurately tell you how to get there, it might not be a good choice.) Generally, suburban or urban locations will draw larger audiences than rural venues.
Restaurants: All restaurants like creative ways to attract new customers. Some venues offer separate areas that you can reserve for meetings. If not, they still might be willing to let you host an event during nonpeak hours. Ask to speak to the manager and let them know about the number of potential customers and advertising flyers your event will generate. What business doesn’t want free publicity?
Libraries: Many facilities have rooms you can use for free or a small fee if you schedule them far enough ahead. Libraries will probably be the easiest place to have an event and are a natural habitat for people interested in education.
Churches: Many churches want to promote educational options to their community. They typically have great spaces to meet in. Be sensitive to their church calendar (often available online) and typical meeting times such as Wednesday nights or Sundays. Depending on the church, you may need to talk to the church administrator or pastor, and they may have to run it by the church board. The fact that this is a nonprofit event is a plus and may make it easier for them to say yes.
Local Business: Some bookstores and other businesses have meeting space. Although these rooms are frequently in use during business hours, ask the manager about using their facility in a nonpeak time. Again, point out that your event will generate free advertising for them! It helps to approach an establishment that you already frequent and have a relationship with.
5. Secure the location
The most effective method is to physically go to the location and speak with the manager. Phone calls and emails or messages won’t have the success rate of the face to face interaction.
Consider offering two different days and times that would work for you—for example, Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. or Friday at 3:00 p.m. When you approach the manager, you can ask, “What time would work best for you . . . (insert time and days)? This will encourage the manager to think about which fits his scheduled better than if he should say yes or no. The manager may still say no, but framing the question this way encourages him to think about creative ways to grant your request.
6. Spread the word locally
You’re putting in a lot of time and effort into finding a location and planning the meeting, so you want people to show up. Here are some suggestions for spreading the word about your event. For larger events, use as many publicity methods as possible.
Churches, MOPS, and other community groups: They are often willing to announce your event in their bulletins, newsletters, or community event listings.
Homeschool groups: Ask local homeschooling groups and email loops to let their constituents know about this event and to specifically let their friends interested in homeschooling know about it.
Social media: You can use social media to create and promote events to your local friends and contacts. Share announcements with local mom email loops. If you have an advertising budget, you can purchase google keyword ads or promote your post on Facebook.
Local media: Provide your event details to local radio, TV stations, newspapers, and penny savers for their community event calendars. And post your event in Craigslist’s community events category.
Flyer blitz: Do flyers really work in a digital age? Absolutely! A recent study showed that the response rate to flyers is extremely high compared to paid print or online ads. People are still looking to connect with a live human being. When they see a posted flyer, they innately recognize and are often drawn by the fact that someone was passionate enough about the issue to take the time to hang a sign.
- Using the poster included in your Homeschool Now USA packet (downloadable in PDF and JPEG formats), the School Choice Week poster, or one of your own design, update it with your event’s specific details.
- Recruit a team to help deliver.
- Identify locations to place the posters.
- About two weeks before event, plan about four hours of guerrilla marketing to target area.
- Meet your group, hand out flyers, location assignments, and hanging materials.
- Reconvene and share some hot chocolate with your volunteers.