Animals Australia is immensely grateful to local volunteers who take time out to foster compassion for animals in their local communities. Thank you, for not only for assisting Animals Australia's campaigns to end animal abuse, but also for caring so deeply about the suffering of those who cannot represent themselves.
This simple guide is designed to help you to become as effective as possible when campaigning on behalf of animals in your local community. Whether you're planning a regular or one-off event; whether you have a large group of willing supporters in tow or simply have a few hours up your sleeve to leaflet or gather petition signatures on your own — you can make a big difference for all animals!
The idea of standing out on a street and talking to strangers about animal cruelty may seem a daunting prospect, particularly for those who are new to the game. However, the vast majority of Australians are appalled by animal cruelty, and will gladly take a leaflet, or sign a petition to help improve the lives of animals.
Please contact us to order a free stack of campaign leaflets. Other campaign materials are available for download on our website. Posters will last longer and look more professional if you laminate or stick them to backing boards.
On the day, remember also to bring along a water bottle, any pens, clipboards, sticky tape for attaching posters to walls, or rubber bands to hold leaflets together on windy days if necessary. Keep a signup sheet handy to record the details of anyone who might be interested in joining you for future occasions.
Find a Good Location
You can freely leaflet and gather petition signatures in most public spaces. Busy streets with lots of pedestrians are best, but be careful not to block the pedestrian traffic, or you may be asked to "move along"! Some public spaces such as shopping malls and corporate parklands are actually privately owned, and you will need to contact centre management beforehand to seek permission to leaflet or gather petition signatures there. If you are unsure whether you need to seek permission to be at a certain location, or are planning to have a large number of people present, contact your city council.
Know Your Facts
If you're going to hand out leaflets — make sure you've read them first (this might sound obvious, but it's vital). Read up on the campaign you are interested in on our website before you step out in public; this should prepare you for most of the questions you are likely to be asked by pedestrians. If you are unsure of the answer to a particular question, offer them a leaflet and direct them to the Animals Australia website.
On the Day
Above All, Be Polite
You may be the first person that some people have ever met who is actively speaking up for animals, so you'll need to leave a positive impression! Smile, be friendly and thank every person who takes a leaflet. Don't give them an excuse to dismiss people like you who are speaking up against animal cruelty. If someone does not want to take a leaflet, politely thank them and move on to the next person.
Always be considerate of the requests of local businesses. Try not to block entrances or exits, and comply with any reasonable requests from the owner or operator. Keep in their good books and they'll be happy to have you back next time.
Talk to Everyone
Don't be afraid to talk to people — if you are leafleting, offer people a leaflet with a simple question such as "Do you have one of these?" If they say "no" then you can offer them a leaflet; and if they say "yes" then you can ask them what they think of the campaign. Openly tell people about the campaign you represent, as most people know very little about the animal suffering that you are speaking out against. An informed community will reject cruel animal industries, and a brief conversation with you may open someone's eyes in ways a leaflet never could!
If Someone is Rude to You...
This can happen from time to time as animal cruelty is a sensitive issue for some people. Don't respond rudely to any nasty or off-the-cuff remarks, as tempting as it may be — it will only make you look bad. Don't waste your time getting angry or falling into an argument; just thank them for giving you their opinion and politely end the conversation. If you remain calm and polite, while someone is attempting to argue with you, remember that onlookers will see a kind, considerate activist and an unreasonable, irate pedestrian. Keep your cool and you'll easily win the support of those around you!
Managing a Group
If you have people assisting you, it is important to remind them that they are there to represent the animals, and not to catch up with their friends. Do that afterwards! But while you're on the street, keep focussed and alert, and don't miss an opportunity to talk with someone who might be interested to learn more or help out. Before you start, ensure that everyone is up to speed on the basic facts of the campaign, and that everyone knows who to come to for more materials or questions.
Everyone has different strengths — try your best to match people to roles they are most comfortable with. For example, ask the out-going people to hand out leaflets, gather petitions or dance around in animal costumes. Those who are more reserved may be more comfortable simply holding a poster or banner.
Police, Media, Oh My!
If you are in a group of people, it is best to nominate a spokesperson that will liaise with any police or media that may be present. Occasionally, local police officers may approach you while you are leafleting or gathering signatures (particularly if you have a group of people). They are only interested to know what you are doing and that you aren't causing any disturbances. Don't shy away, but rather politely introduce yourself and explain why you are there. They will appreciate your openness and in a majority of cases, will be happy for you to continue. In the unlikely event that you are asked to "move along," politely ask where would be appropriate to relocate to, and do so promptly.
If you are approached by the media, well done! The media is an excellent tool that can quickly spread the word to thousands of people. If you are comfortable talking with the media, stay on-topic and explain to them why you are there as a concerned member of the community campaigning for animals, and please refer them to Animals Australia for comment.
Have Fun, Be Yourself, and Be Creative!
Creative presences always attract attention. Big banners, animal costumes and street theatre can go a long way to get people interested in your cause and bring them over to take leaflets, sign petitions and help out. There are limitless ways to make your presence eye catching and unique. Just pay particular attention not to disrupt pedestrian traffic, so that you don't upset local businesses. Take photos of your events and send them to us!