JBS Bulletin: July 2022

Growing JBS

Recruiting at a Convention

by Mike Sabga, Field Coordinator for Florida (except the Panhandle)

I always do my best to have a booth or table at every type of convention that crosses my path, and I encourage all the members in my territory to do so as well, whether I can attend or not. Many types of conventions and shows are available throughout the year: homeschooling, TAR (Teenage Republicans), medical freedom, and military/veteran conventions; the Red Pill Expo; CPAC and “Outside CPAC” meetings; gun shows; and a host of smaller shows, fairs, farmers markets, and other gatherings. All of these offer great opportunities to set up a JBS table and get local members to volunteer as helpers, with the sole purpose of Birching and recruiting.

Conventions have two main benefits: Local chapter members get to enjoy a productive and fun activity, and you get to recruit members for your chapters, all the while spreading the message of The John Birch Society.

There is something special about setting up a table at a convention and spending one, two, or three days interacting with like-minded patriots, sharing stories, handing out print material, explaining the Freedom Index to them, and eventually persuading some of them to become members. It is one of the most satisfying activities you can offer, and your members will appreciate it.

Conventions come in a variety of sizes; they can be attended by 500 to 2,000 people, and sometimes attract 20,000 or more.

The most recent convention where I had the honor of exhibiting was the Florida Homeschooling Convention in Orlando. It was attended by 18,000-plus parents and kids and lasted three days, with an initial “setup day” beforehand. Although this was a homeschooling convention and our main purpose was to promote our FreedomProject Academy, we did a whole lot of Birching. Our members helped us sign up four people, and we handed out thousands of pieces of literature, showed videos, planted seeds, and enjoyed meeting many amazing people.

One of our volunteers, John Rohe, used a highly effective technique: He walked up to people as they approached the booth and asked them, “Who is your congressman?” This simple approach opened up many conversations that led to amazing friendships, and eventually to sharing the Congressional Scorecard and other materials.

I will admit that there are some challenges in running tables at conventions. Number one is funding; another is getting the right amount of print material; and then there is the ever-present “wearing out” of the feet and legs. After the convention in Orlando ended, I spent two days recuperating physically, and it took my wife around three days — but it was all worth it!

Always remember to take some cases of bottled water for your volunteers, yourself, and the occasional passerby who has run out. Keeping yourself well hydrated, drinking electrolytes, and eating some snacks along the way will make a huge difference. Bigger conventions often take place at a hotel convention center or large banquet room, so it is a good idea to get a room at the same hotel where the convention is taking place.

My hope is that this short story will encourage you and your fellow chapter members to participate in conventions and shows.