One of the main tasks of the Free Software Foundation Europe is to inform the public about Free Software and related topics. For this, it is essential to be present with a booth on tradeshows, fairs, expos, and other local events.
Helping at such a booth is a good way to
- get active for Free Software by working as a booth volunteer
- support Free Software by talking to people and explain them importance of Free Software
- meet interesting people and answer their questions
- have a lot of fun!
In this page we follow you through the operations towards the preparation of a booth. Is there a booth already planned in your region? Join it! There is no booth? Organize one!
Check out upcoming booths
Register a booth
For many Free Software conferences and GNU/Linux-days you have to register some weeks or months before to enable your presentation with a booth. There can no general guideline be given here as the procedures for this are quite different - depending on the event. But often you have the possibility to present your booth in your own words in the program, on a poster or on the home page. It is recommended that you use FSFE's mission statement as the basis for this text.
Ask for a plan of the boothes. If the position of the FSFE booth is suboptimal request a shift.
8 weeks before the event
Announce the booth
Write an email announcing that you are going to organise a booth, and invite interested people to join you. Send this email to:
the country team of the country where the event takes place
the public discussion list(s) possibly interested in the event
the Fellowship team at <fellowship AT fsfeurope DOT org>, include a list of countries and postal codes to send the text to; we will forward the email to all Fellows in the region you define.
An example of the text you could use is:
Dear Fellows, From [start day] to [end day], FSFE will have a booth at [event] in [location]. We are looking for people to join us at our booth and help spread the word about Free Software and FSFE. If you are interested in participating in FSFE's presence at [event], please write an email to [name and email address]. However, even if you just visit [event], please visit the FSFE booth and say hello to us! You can find more info about [event] at [event URL]. We are looking forward to meet you there! [name]
Make sure that for each reply to these invitations, the new team member receives a friendly "welcome to the team" and a status quo of the preparations and is kept up to date with all subsequent developments regarding the booth. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a TechDocs/quickml mailing list that includes all helpers, and run all the coordination for the booth through that list. However, if you use this list also for external communication, be aware that sending an email to the list and CC'ing somebody external will add the external address to the list.
Many visitors of an event prefer to be addressed in their own language. In the case of an international event, it is good to have some volunteers in the booth team who can speak the languages of the expected audience, and at least some English speakers as a fall-back. It is useful for you as the booth coordinator to get an overview over the languages spoken by the helpers.
4 weeks before the event
Order promotion material
The main purpose of such a booth is to inform people about Free Software in general, and about FSFE's current activities in particular. The FSFE office in Berlin has a stock of various posters, fliers, postcards, and stickers, which you are encouraged to make use of! Please fill in the online order form for promotion material to make sure you have all these goodies available in time.
Please use an address where there's always somebody available to accept the delivery. If your home address doesn't qualify for that, maybe better let it deliver to the company you work in?
It is important that you specify the even you want to use the material for, especially the number of expected participants, the languages they speak, and their background regarding Free Software. This makes it easier for the team in FSFE's office to compile a suitable set of material.
Production of all of this material is cheap, and distributing it is an important pillar of FSFE's mission. Please don't be shy. Make use of this possibility. There is no cost involved for you at all!
Order merchandise (Optional)
At some of our booths, we also have T-shirts and other merchandise for sale.
If you want to sell merchandise, please send an email to <office AT SPAMFREE fsfeurope DOT org> and the merchandise team will coordinate the necessary steps with you.
If you plan to sell merchandise at the booth, it is a good idea to prepare some change. You can already start to collect 1-Euro and 2-Euro coins now.
Produce address cards
Produce cards/flyers and a placard showing the mailaddress of your Fellowship group and the dates of the next Fellowship meetings. Distribute the cards at the booth.
Prepare a mini PC and a monitor for presenting slideshows, fsfe.org, etc. at the booth. Prepare a tablet PC so people can join the FSFE right at the booth and subcribe the newsletter (look for your language).
Stay in contact with the rest of the team
One month before the event is a good timing to send a status update to all booth helpers.
2 weeks before the event
Invite other fellows
A booth is also an occasion to meet other fellows who live near the event location. So, organize a Fellowship meeting nearby the event location.
Is there a local FSFE group (see the list)? Coordinate with them and ask for assistance;
There is no local FSFE group? Write to <fellowship AT fsfeurope DOT org> and forward a message to all fellows living in the area (specifying the postcodes that you wish to reach).
1 week before the event
Prepare the material
Send a reminder to Fellows and volunteers that you are meeting at the Booth. This communication should include more detailed information, namely:
- A list of registered volunteers. If you want, you can write a few nice words describing different volunteers, as well as the languages they can speak.
- A list of notable guests, if any.
If possible, organize a volunteers meeting before booth activities. The aim of that is to build a solid team, and to make sure that everyone knows enough to answers to questions of people.
- Considering the number of registered volunteers, you might want to organize shifts. Please be flexible and consider last minute changes to allow people to go assisting to talks if they wish. Consider that at least two persons should be at the booth all the time.
Everyone should be informed about recent campaigns, because people are liking to ask questions about them. However, no one is supposed to know everything, so you don't need to stress about details. As a team, we should be able to answer to most of the questions.
At the booth
Designing a booth
Having a booth is one thing, having it in a good design is another thing. People should be attracted to come to the booth and they should get an easy overview of the material at the booth. Please see our documentation of booth design.
- If you have ordered our merchandising material, please be sure to count all the material before and after the event, and fill the accountancy sheet of what you actually received.
- Collect donations!
- If electricity and internet connection is available, it is nice to have a PC at the booth in order to allow people who wish to subscribe to the Fellowship to do so or to run a eye catching slideshow.
- Expose posters and roll-ups, if you have them.
- It's also important to encourage people to join the FSFE mailing lists. This is how we stay contacted and form a community.
You may collect donations on behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe. For this we can provide you a donation boxes.
Anybody can confirm that money was received. However, an official donation receipt allowing tax-deduction in Germany needs to be signed by the President. If somebody really does a donation in cash so big that it's worth writing a donation receipt (>= around 50 Euro), the best option would probably be to note the address and later send the info to <finance AT fsfeurope DOT org> asking to send the donation receipt by snail mail. The receipt will then be sent together with the rest at the beginning of the following year.
Obviously, donations that FSFE writes a receipt for must arrive at the official FSFE books at some point, so these donations must be paid to the FSFE account.
Within 1 week after the event
- Write about the booth: the best way to do so is in a short blog post with a picture (two to three paragraphs with a picture is already fine). This way others who were not there also can see what you did.
- If you sold merchandise at the booth:
- Count the reminding merchandise material, separated by design and size, and note down the numbers.
- If there is another event within a year where you can use the merchandise, keep the items that you have not sold. Otherwise, send them back to Free Software Foundation Europe e.V., Schönhauser Allee 6/7, 10119 Berlin, Germany. Pay the postage from the money you have received from the sales, and keep the receipt.
Count the money. Complete the accountancy sheet by filling in the blue cells. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transfer the proceeds ("Money out") to FSFE's bank account, IBAN DE47430609672059790801, BIC GENODEM1GLS. Use "Proceeds <name of the event>" as the payment reference. Merchandise sales are relevant for our taxes, so please make sure both is done within one week after the end of the event.
- Send the original of all receipts for the costs you paid from the sales revenue to Free Software Foundation Europe e.V., Schönhauser Allee 6/7, 10119 Berlin, Germany.
- Update this How-to with your notes.