How to Plan a World-Changing Rally (Or, Lessons from the Year of the March)

You have heard of festivalization of conferences? The biggest trend in 2017 may have been the mainstreaming of marching. Eventbrite reported an almost 30 percent increase in activist events in the last 12 months, with almost twice as many people participating in rallies and protests as the year before.

From the Women’s March in January to vigils in Las Vegas to mourn the victims of a mass shooting, the causes are varied, but the reasons are similar. A survey of 3,000 people conducted by Harris Poll concluded that the motivation for participating included promoting positive change, expressing political opinions, learning about key issues and supporting those affected by recent events.

After all this gathering over the last 365 days, we have learned a few things about the logistics required to bring a large group of otherwise unconnected people together for a common cause. Here are some tips from the front lines of planning world-changing rallies.

1. Leverage the Power of Social Media

Teresa Chook, a grandmother living in Hawaii, recalls creating a Facebook page on Nov. 9, after seeing the results of the presidential election. She called for a march on Washington. The next morning, she had more than 10,000 responses. Combined with the momentum from Bob Bland, a fashion designer from New York, and others in the activist community, the day drew some five million people out into the streets all over the country. That is the power of social media to bring people together.

2. Call in the Experts

Those “others in the activist community” mentioned above were veterans of successful protest gatherings. By bringing in people who understood how to work with law enforcement and city government to set the stage for a peaceful and safe event, along with public relations tools to project a unified message about the reason for the march, the important logistical details were not allowed to derail the cause.

3. Incorporate the Cause in Regularly Planned Events

Southern Nevada Home Builders Association dedicated proceeds from the group’s Oktoberfest Membership Networking Mixer to the relief effort for victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 53 people just weeks before the previously planned event.

4. Use the Resources you Have on Hand

A number of Las Vegas hotels and restaurateurs turned to their in-house talent to host fundraising events. Celebrity chef Robert Irvine hosted a tribute gathering at his Public House restaurant in Tropicana Las Vegas and donated the funds to victims of the shooting. Meanwhile, Urban Seed Foundation worked with MiChef Network to produce LOVE Las Vegas Relief Fundraiser, featuring local chefs and performers.

5. Continue the Conversation

One day does not a movement make. If you incorporate a march, fundraiser or social activist speaker in your agenda, keep the discussion alive through the event app, social media posts and other member communications vehicles. That way the march will keep moving forward even after everyone is back home.