EARTH & ANIMAL ACTIVISM GUIDE

GET ACTIVE

You've recently learned about animal issues. Or you're concerned about endangered species. Or you've been concerned about the environment for many years and have decided it's time to educate society about the issues. You may be timid or think you do not speak well in public. Perhaps you've never been involved in an activist group and you do not know the first thing about them. You may feel that you are all alone. But as an individual you can educate hundreds of people in your community and affect their often unwittingly exploitative attitudes and lifestyles.
12 STEPS TO BECOME AN ANIMAL ADVOCATE

An animal advocate is one who fights for animals to have the right to exist without the fear of being mistreated, exploited or exterminated. The welfare of animals is foremost in the mind of a genuine animal activist. Activists work to ensure that animals receive proper care, treatment and respect, and endeavor to create awareness among the public about animal exploitation and abuse issues. Animal advocates can be individuals, volunteers of an organization, or paid employees of an organization.

LEAFLETING & TABLING

If you've uncovered an important local issue, you may wish to print a flyer to hand out to people on the street. Or maybe you've collected signatures from people enthusiastic about earth and animal issues and want to invite them to a meeting with an inspiring speaker. Or you may want to urge local residents to spay and neuter their animals. Once you've defined your message and audience, try to prepare a leaflet that will reach them.

LETTER WRITING

You can get great exposure for earth and animal issues by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines, writing letters to businesses and writing letters to legislators. Use your clout as a consumer to protest companies that exploit the environment and animals. While everyone is good at complaining about politics to their friends, too few citizens express their opinions to those who can do something about it: legislators.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

If you've tabled enough to build up an e-mail list of 100 or more people, you may want to hold a public meeting.  There are several good reasons to hold a meeting: to form a local group, to show an animal or environmental film, or to have a speaker urge people to take action on a particular issue. Be sure you're clear about the purpose of your meeting, as this affects how you plan it.

STARTING A GROUP

As you set up tables and distribute leaflets, you'll meet people who feel the way you do about earth and animal issues. Although it's not absolutely necessary, you can increase your effectiveness by joining forces and forming a group. A group can have more clout than one person. The media, the government, and the public will usually give more serious consideration to the views of a group.

PUBLIC SPEAKING

Surveys show that public speaking is the number one phobia in America. The fear of death is number seven! The idea of speaking before a group may terrify you, but one day you'll need to speak publicly to help animals and the planet. If you plan your speech and rehearse your presentation, you may still be nervous but at least people will listen. Your first step in preparing a speech is to understand the nature of the people you'll be speaking to.

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA

Your goal is to become a resource on earth and animal issues for the media. You can start by letting them know that you exist and by cultivating contacts. You don’t have to be an expert on every issue, but you should be open to learning about issues when they come up in the news. You want your local media to think of you when anything involving the environment or animals is in the news and to know that they can come to you for a timely comment or information.

LOBBYING

An essential part of any movement for social change is the effort to create new legislation. You don’t need to be an expert on law or politics to lobby your elected officials, but you do need to know how to communicate with them effectively. The first step is to find out who they are. Next, get to know as many legislators as you can. Don’t wait until you or your group want to introduce a bill or to lobby your legislator to vote one way or the other on an issue. Lay the foundation before you start a legislative campaign. Attend “town meetings” where legislators meet with voters to answer questions. Write to thank them for taking specific positions that you support.

PLANNING A CAMPAIGN

A campaign requires a great deal of commitment, planning and organization. While it's possible to do this alone, the support of others is very desirable. In either case, it's important to establish an identity as a group. Once you get going, others will join you. You, however, must expect to lead the way. Your first step is to thoroughly research your opponents. What arguments will they use to defend their position? What do you hope to achieve? Decide exactly what your demands are: What do you want your target to do?

ORGANIZING A PROTEST

When you just can't stay silent on a particular earth and animal issue, expressing your views through civil protest is a positive way to make a difference. Gathering with other people to collectively speak out against animal and environmental wrongdoing is a fundamental right and a powerful way to bring about change.

STARTING A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Are you determined to help the earth and animals by starting a nonprofit organization? To start a nonprofit you'll need a unique idea that distinguishes your group from similar organizations, a carefully-drafted plan of action, and the passion to keep working toward your goals even when times get tough.

FUNDRAISING

Much of the work you will do as an activist requires no more (and no less) than caring and motivation. On the other hand, making flyers, setting up tables and forming groups also requires some money to cover costs.