Building a culture of life, one student at a time
Forming a pro-life club at your parish, school, or for your homeschool group is a great way to spread the culture of life in your own community. Students of all ages can benefit from joining a group where they can talk about and strengthen their pro-life beliefs, plan fun activities, and evangelize within their community. So where do you start? How can you make your pro-life club a success?
Starting the Club
It is a good idea to have at least two or three founding members to get your club running. As the founding board, your job is to set the tone for how the group will flourish. If you’re on your own right now, start looking for friends, classmates, or acquaintances in other groups who share the same passion for pro-life work. As the core team, you all need to be firmly grounded in the belief that life is sacred from the very beginning.
Once you have formed your team, schedule a planning meeting to decide how you want to run your first meeting and how you can publicize your first event to gain more members. You will need to establish a constitution so that, when it comes time to elect new officers or when issues arise, you know how to deal with them in advance. Devise a mission statement for the group that will establish its purpose. For instance, will you just have educational meetings to learn more about pro-life topics? Will you focus mostly on activism? What are some goals that you want the group to accomplish?
Host a Kickoff Event
Once you have your core team established and your constitution and mission statement ready, host a fun kickoff event to encourage new members to join. This can be as simple as a picnic in the park, a BBQ in someone’s yard, a kickball game, an ice cream social, or a pizza party. The main idea is to plan a fun event to unveil your plans for the group.
- For a discussion-oriented meeting:
- Have each member bring a current news article on a pro-life topic and share it with the club. Current events are a good starting place for talking about issues.
- Have a round table discussion. Generations for Life makes a great curriculum with many topics to use as a starting point. These can get a little dull with a not-so-talkative crowd, so take turns leading these discussions.
- Have everyone read an article or a chapter of a book ahead of time to discuss at the meeting.
- Watch one of the short video clips from LiveAction investigation films during the meeting and use it as a discussion topic.
- Use the overpopulationisamyth.com videos to spark discussion on population control and other pro-life social issues.
- Listen to a lecture on CD by a pro-life speaker or find a podcast. Here’s a list of the top 40.
- Play “Who wants to be a lifesaver?” Have each member sit in the hot seat and answer pro-abortion arguments.
- Divide the club into teams and have everyone answer a questionnaire about abortion (or other topic). See how many answers you can get correct.
- Read through a list of pro-abortion arguments and find a suitable answer as a club.
- Invite a speaker to talk about a pregnancy resource center outreach program, Church teaching on life issues, pro-life laws, current events in the pro-life movement, etc.
- Host a Celebrate Life Night where members play board games, go bowling, attend an ice cream social, etc. Have fun as a club.
- Have a movie night. Watch the movie one night, then discuss it at the next meeting. Check out our Books and Movies page for free discussion guides. If you show the film publicly, be sure to check out any licensing information.
- Have a creative night where you design things like a sign for your fundraiser, a new T-shirt design for the club’s shirts, armbands for the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, etc.
- Don’t make every meeting all business. Make sure you reward members for their hard work by thanking them. Go out to dinner or have a picnic as a club and have some time to relax and enjoy each other’s company after a big event.
TIP: Always have a meeting agenda and use it to bring up old business from previous meetings that hasn’t been resolved and to discuss future events (like planning a March for Life trip). Give regular members a chance to voice their opinions on different events by calling for a vote (show of hands). Keep the business part of the meetings short and structured to avoid getting dull.
Plan for meetings
For each meeting, the board should take a few minutes to jot down a plan of how the meeting should go. Start with prayer and an icebreaker. If there is any old or unfinished business from the previous meeting, briefly go over it and try to reach a consensus. Usually, old business will lead to any new business. If you can think of anything new that your club might want to plan (events, fundraisers, activism), jot it down in your notes. Most likely, another club member will bring it up again, but you won’t forget to mention it at the next meeting if you write it down.
Run the meetings
Start on time with prayer and your planned icebreaker. Even if everyone knows each other, an icebreaker helps to get quiet people to talk. Quickly go over announcements and business points. Unless you are planning a large event, you don’t need to spend the whole meeting discussing them. Try to have meetings where members get a chance to learn about different pro-life issues and discuss them. The majority of the meetings will probably be either discussions or planning for some event. Save some time for socializing after, as this will help build community in your club.
Get people to talk
If the club members are rather quiet when it comes to discussions, try asking them questions directly. They will talk if prodded enough (don’t push TOO hard). If that doesn’t work so well, have different people read portions of an article out loud. Anything that loosens their tongue will eventually get them talking or making points. It is not your job to have a discussion with yourself at the meetings.
Some people are better at organizing events than speaking up at the meetings. That’s okay. It IS your job to see people’s talents and likes and assign them tasks that suit them (or not). Don’t feel bad about delegating work to members. Try to get different members to lead and organize events. For events, everyone should help.
Get the word out
- During community, church, or school events, pass out candy with the name of the club, the meeting place, and time taped on the candy. Be careful of nut allergies.
- Pass out flyers or postcards to advertise an event or discussion. This gives you an opportunity to invite someone who might not be 100 percent pro-life. Invite others to come and learn with the rest of the club.
- Chalk. You can do massive chalking (for example, 3,500+ hearts to represent the babies killed by abortion each day) or just simple pro-life slogans. Make sure you only chalk on public property and in places that are normally designated as free-speech zones. Don’t chalk on private property. Some cities have ordinances against chalking, so be sure you find out the rules before you chalk. Remember that chalking in a public place is part of your first amendment right to free speech. See ideas on National Pro-Life Chalk Day.
- Post flyers. People do read them. Each group member should have a place where he posts flyers. Make sure that all flyers contain the name of the event, the event description, the date and time, the name of the club, a contact person, and a contact e-mail. This is critical to making sure that your event is publicized effectively.
- Personal invitation is probably the best way to spread the word about an event. Ask ALL of your friends to come and have other members of the club do the same. Have an “invite a friend night” where everyone is required to bring someone new to the meeting. Make that meeting fun with games and activities instead of business.
- Host a Pro-Life Week
- As a group, chalk 3,500+ hearts to represent the number of babies lost in abortion each day.
- Hold a Prayer Vigil for Life.
- Host a pro-life movie night.
- Invite a dynamic speaker to talk about a pro-life topic or about how you can help change the culture. This can be especially energizing for the club.
- Have a pizza party or ice cream social.
- Participate in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity (silentday.org) held in the fall.
- Go as a club to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. every January.
- Run a diaper drive for your local pregnancy resource center.
- Volunteer for a day at a pregnancy resource center.
Fundraise money for your club in order to participate in events throughout the year, like going on the March for Life. You can also raise money for a pregnancy resource center or send funds to saveunbornlife.org that will help save a baby’s life. Below are some fun ways to help raise money.
- Bake sale: This is one of the easiest fundraising events to have that will get a decent return if you plan well.
- Marathon/walk-a-thon/bike-a-thon for a local pregnancy resource center
- Rock for Life benefit concert (for money or baby items)
- Tournaments (games, golf) – charge entrance fee
- Have an auction at another event.
- Hold a “car wash for life” at a parking lot on a busy intersection. Ask for donations and donate all proceeds to a local pregnancy center.
- Don’t limit yourself to money. Companies such as Chick-Fil-A like to donate food to pro-life organizations.
- Write fundraising letters to friends and family for money (from John-Paul Deddens, founder of SFLI)
Direct mail fundraising
- Do it. Don’t just think about doing it. People will give because you asked. So ask.
- Mindset – it’s all about saving lives. Be bold and ask for an amount.
- Let your passion come through, not your thesis. Be conversational.
- Fundraise for a specific need, such as traveling to the March for Life, supporting a pregnancy care center, etc.
- Write a letter, send the letter, and don’t make it look like a bill (use 8 x 9 and no windows on the envelope).
- The first paragraph and the P.S. are the most important and should be exactly the message you want to communicate.
- Make the letter easy to read with no paragraph being longer than three to four sentences. The length of the letter depends on the audience. Sometimes one page is all you need.
- Send an addressed, stamped envelope to return to you if you are dealing with a short list of people.
- Give them a little sheet they can fill out and return to you.
- Always use regular mail. E-mails get lost and can be ineffective.
- Whom do you ask? Your parents’ Christmas card list, local right to life groups, churches, friends, alumni from your school, etc.
- Always remember to thank your donors with a personalized message.
Going on the March for Life
Planning a trip to the March for Life is a lot of work, but it can be a rewarding and fun bonding time for your group. Usually large schools, churches, or dioceses organize trips to the March for Life. But if for some reason you can’t join an existing trip, here are some points to consider:
Organization board. The group needs a clear head (and in the case of high school groups, a chaperone). This team gets together long before January to work out the details of the trip and to publicize the event.
Advertise. You need to encourage your members to sign up early. Have registration and payment forms ready for students to fill out when you announce the trip. Don’t forget to have a deadline or even an early bird discount if you need to know numbers sooner.
Fundraise. The March for Life is a great opportunity to fundraise for your group to lower the cost of travel. Send letters or host bake sales or other types of fundraisers in order to make enough money for the trip. All members should participate in the fundraiser, even if they do not plan to join the trip.
Arrange transportation and lodging. Most people drive or take a bus to the March. Find parents who are willing to drive to Washington, D.C. or hire a bus, depending on the number of participants. Get rooms in a hotel, or find a church or school where you can sleep in sleeping bags on the floor.
SAMPLE CALENDAR OF EVENTS
August – Kick off the year with a celebration
- Host a BBQ at the parish or in someone’s backyard. Agenda should include an icebreaker to help members to get to know each other, some organized games, food/potluck, and a short meeting or pro-life discussion to gain interest. Be sure to mention future activities and preview events that the group wants to host.
- Invite members to bring a friend to the first meeting to discuss plans for the year.
- Pick a patron saint for the year and begin a spiritual adoption program. Try this e-mail spiritual adoption program by Holy Heroes: http://www.holyheroes.com/Spiritual-Adoption-s/92.htm.
September – 40 Days for Life fall campaign
November – Thanksgiving
- Write thank-you notes to moms who choose life, then give them to a local pregnancy resource center to distribute.
- Help out at a Thanksgiving dinner at a PRC or soup kitchen.
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or mobile pantry.
December – Gift giving
- Make and give gifts to families at a homeless shelter.
- Take an empty manger display and carol outside an abortion clinic.
- March for Life
- Students for Life of America Conference
February – Purity
March – National Pro-Life Chalk Day
April – National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day
- Pro-Life Essay Contest (or host your own)
- Pro-Life Video Contest (or host your own)
- Pro-Life Speech Contest (or host your own)
June/July – Plan fun summer activities, such as a camping trip, a canoe trip, a day at a lake, a BBQ or picnic, bowling, roller skating, or a trip to an amusement park to keep your group together over the summer!
Choose the Child: choosethechild.com
Students for Life of America: highschool.studentsforlife.org
Students for Life of America also has an activism kit to help you start a pro-life group in school: studentsforlife.org/students/start-a-group
Generations for Life: generationsforlife.org