This activism event is designed to make a statement about the national debt which can’t be ignored. You’ll build a 40-foot long national debt clock on campus and use the attention it will raise to spark a conversation about our national debt with students.

To help chapters participate, we will provide $100 activism grants, detailed instructions, as well as talking points and ready-made customizable flyers.

The three goals of every activism event are to:

  1. Educate new students in the ideas of liberty
  2. Recruit new members for your YAL chapter
  3. Earn media attention for your event to expand its outreach
For this activism project, your chapter will build a 40’ debt clock to get students’ attention and give you the chance to lure them to your follow-up event to learn more about the staggering debt our nation faces.

For this activism project, your chapter will build a 40’ debt clock to get students’ attention and give you the chance to lure them to your follow-up event to learn more about the staggering debt our nation faces.

  1. Reach out to YAL’s Leadership Team for support: YAL’s Leadership Team is your number-one tool for success. Find a YAL leader near you who can help you execute your activism event. Your Regional Director and the State Chairs in your area are your best resource for learning how to organize an effective activism event. If either position has not yet been filled, learn more and apply to join the Leadership Team here.
  2. Apply for resources: YAL is offering FREE resources and recommendations to every participating YAL chapter:
    • An activism grant for up to $100
    • A recruitment kit packed with materials, clip boards, sidewalk chalk, books, flyers, a political quiz and chart, and everything else you’ll need to draw students to your chapter.
  3. Always recruit for liberty: With every activism event you do, you should recruit new members. Print out plenty of YAL sign-up sheets to sign up interested students. When your event is over, use the Member Upload Tool to upload all your new members’ information to your chapter page. Once you upload member information, each new member will get an email asking them to join your chapter.
  4. Make your plans:

Meet up with your chapter members and plan the dates and details for your activism event. Take some time to brainstorm and put your ideas on paper. After a productive meeting, you should walk away with a clear and executable plan with specific tasks assigned to your members.

Ask yourselves some basic questions: What do you want to do? Who is going to do what? When are you going to do it? How much preparation time is needed? When are you going to meet again to prepare?

Always keep in mind the three most important goals for any activism project:

1. Recruit new members
2. Educate your classmates
3. Earn media attention

For each activism event, there are two major components:

  1. An on-campus tabling exercise, including visual display and/or interactive quiz, to recruit new members and promote your upcoming Visualize the Debt meeting/event.
  2. A large chapter meeting/event to educate all attendees and discuss the issue you are addressing. This could be a speaker, PowerPoint presentation, politician, professor, movie, and/or general discussion.

Reserve a high-traffic area to table on campus once you have picked your dates for execution. As a recognized student organization, it should be as simple as contacting your student affairs office and jumping through the necessary hoops to receive permission to table.

If your YAL chapter is not yet officially recognized by your university and it won’t let you reserve tabling space, don’t fear. Get creative, and always remember that the table doesn’t get recruits: you do.

If your campus gives you any trouble and tries to relegate your activism to a “free speech zone,” please contact us so we can help you defeat these unconstitutional regulations.

Reserve a classroom and the necessary video equipment so you can host a film screening of a debt related video. Predict how many students you think will attend the film screening, and reserve a room to accommodate.

Pro tip: Always reserve rooms that are only big enough to accommodate 75% of the amount of people you expect to show up. It is better for everyone to think that your event ended up having standing room only when you host it in a smaller room rather than think that hardly anyone showed up when you host it in a large auditorium.

We strongly suggest that you walk through the room before the event, so you understand how the equipment works and how to set up the room properly.

Build your 40′ debt clock

If you want to attract new recruits, then you have to gain their attention. There are two simple ways to grab any student’s attention while tabling:

1. Engage students to interact with you
2. Build a large display students cannot ignore

For this project, that display is your 40′ debt clock.  To build it, you’ll need:

  • Six 4’x8′ 7/16 OSB boards
  • One gallon of  white paint
  • Three paint brushes
  • Two paint rollers
  • Two paint trays
  • Two yard sticks
  • One can of black spray paint
  • One can of blue spray paint

Follow this diagram to label your debt clock — and be sure to update the number to be as accurate as possible. Replace the red X’s with the most up-to-date number to reflect our current National Debt. See the most current amount of National Debt on an online Debt Clock.

debtclockdiagram

If you have planned your “Visualize the Debt” event adequately, your tabling and promoting for your follow-up event should be a lot of fun!

Erect your 40’ Debt Clock display near your table. Make sure that the Debt Clock is erected properly (see video for details). The clock should face an area where there is high student traffic. Start engaging students by distributing education information and signing up new recruits. Inform everyone who walks by about your upcoming event and encourage them to learn about their rights.

Sign up EVERYONE

Stay focused. The purpose of every activism event is to build your chapter and grow the youth movement for liberty. This is the only way that your YAL chapter can grow and maintain a lasting presence on campus. Always keep YAL sign up sheets on hand.

Sign up everyone you possibly can, and make sure to upload their contact information to your chapter page using the member upload tool. And always follow up with the students who have signed up at your table.

Pro tip: Ask every student who you get to stop at your table to sign up for a reminder about the follow up event, and ask them if they can make it to the event. Students are more likely to follow through on something they verbally commit to.

Distribute flyers at your table, and post them around campus to promote your follow-up event. Be sure to create a Facebook event and invite all your friends and YAL members. Write with chalk on campus sidewalks to educate students about your activism effort and promote your follow up event. Think of creative ways to get the word out. You can never promote too much!

Check out the all-star activism event put on by YAL at the University of Central Florida with their debt clock:

Earn Media Attention

Even if it’s your campus paper, getting media attention for your activism event can reach hundreds, if not thousands, more people. Use these resources to learn how you can make the news at the campus, local, state, or even national level!

Host a productive follow-up meeting/event

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Your first meeting after your tabling event should set the proper tone you want to convey as a chapter. That’s why YAL created a guide to running a successful meeting so that you can know exactly how to retain your new members with your meeting.

Here are some great resources for your informational meeting.

Follow up or fail

Sign-ups are worth nothing if you don’t execute a proper follow up with each new contact you have and get them to your follow-up event.This is the perfect time to talk with the new students that you engaged with during your project about the importance of understanding the dangers of wealth redistribution.

Follow up in multiple ways

Don’t rely on email follow ups: no one reads them besides the government. Be sure to give each interested student a personal phone call and ask them if they can come to your next meeting. Remember, students are more likely to follow through with something that they verbally commit to do.

After you’ve called everyone, send a follow up text the day of your event to round up any stragglers who wouldn’t show up otherwise. Try something like this:

“Hey [name], this is [name] from YAL. Thanks for stopping by our Visualize the Debt event the other day. It was great getting meeting you. We’re all getting ready for our follow-up meeting and social right now. Can’t wait to see you at [time]!”

Email will only serve as a good reminder to those whom you’ve already reached by phone, text, and social media.

Engage

Host your event to featuring a speaker, a documentary screening or a presentation as soon as possible. Your event should be within a couple days of your tabling activities so students don’t forget.

Schedule the meeting during an evening time slot which will conflict with the fewest number of classes possible, and don’t schedule events (other than socials) on weekends — don’t give your new recruits any reason not to attend!

At the meeting, begin by introducing YAL and explain how to get involved in your chapter. Next, screen your film or give your speaker the floor. After the meeting, offer an opportunity to socialize by going out for pizza, drinks, or whatever works best for your chapter to discuss the meeting and the ideas of liberty.

Conduct follow ups consistently even after students have come to their first YAL meeting. Consistent communication with students is the only way to ensure that they establish lasting friendships within your chapter, and therefore, stay involved after their first exposure to YAL.

Use the Member Upload Tool to upload all your new members’ information to your chapter page.

You can greatly increase the impact of your chapter’s activism efforts by documenting and sharing your story with other YAL activists on the YAL national blog. If you’re a chapter officer, it’s simple: Click here.
Learn how to properly document your activism event. Read this quick guide or watch this short (and funny) video to learn how you can submit the best activism blog posts.
blog
  • Have detailed reports: Post all your pictures, give us all the details, and share with us how students reacted to your Visualize the Debt activism.
  • Include your best pictures and video: Take as many photos as you can including action shots and group photos. Aim for at least 5 awesome pictures in your report. Include short videos (about 3-4 minutes). Make them upbeat, and mix in some music. Post your video to YouTube and embed the video in your chapter report.
  • Include how many recruits you got: A primary goal of every activism event is to recruit new members into your YAL chapter. Share in your blog post how many sign-ups you got, how many participants you had in your event, and how many students you engaged overall.
  • Include all of your earned media: Chapters that earn media attention reach a much wider audience and greater respect on campus. Include links to all of your media coverage in your report.
Once your chapter has conducted a successful activism event, it will pay to have a social to bring everyone together, celebrate your hard work, and provide an opportunity for your new recruits to feel welcomed into the group.

After your follow-up meeting, consider hosting a social. You can go out to a local pizza pub, a nearby bar, or do something more creative like go to one of your school’s football games together.

People may first become interested in your YAL chapter because of the ideas of liberty, but no one will stay as a member unless your chapter proves to be a source of camaraderie and friendship for them.

Use this momentum for your next activism project!

Through conducting a successful activism event, you won’t convince everyone to join your chapter, but you’ll see your membership grow quickly. You’ll be thankful you put in the effort when you have a record-setting turnout at your next chapter meeting!

Remember, every event you do on campus should be used as a launching pad for your next big project so don’t let your momentum end with this Recruitment Drive! Use this energy to mobilize for your next big activism project. Check out YAL’s most recent National Activism project.

Contact your Regional Director with any questions you have!