One of the main tasks of the FSFE is to inform the public about free software and related topics. For this, it is essential to be present with a booth or talk at tradeshows, fairs, expos, and other local events.
Helping out with a booth or talk is a good way to
- get active for Free Software by working as a 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, specifically. 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 conferences you have to register some weeks or months before in order to get a place for a booth. Sometimes the conferences don't typically have space for booths, but might accommodate if you get in touch early on, and also show what value the FSFE bring to the event.
The procedures for this are quite different and depends on the event. 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 booths. If the position of the FSFE booth is suboptimal, ask to be moved to a different location. Keep in mind the flow of people around the booth. You want a place where people can see you, where a lot of people pass by, but at the same time, you don't want people to only rush but to actually be able to take some time to look and talk to you without blocking the way of other people.
8 weeks before the event
- Recruit helpers: 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 FSFE team at <contact AT fsfe DOT org>, include a list of countries and postal codes to send the text to; we will forward the email to the FSFE community in the region you define.
An example of the text you could use is (note the string "%(name)s" will automatically be replaced by the name of the email recipient):
Dear %(name)s, From [start day] to [end day], FSFE will be 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 update 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, flyers, 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 goods 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!
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 <contact AT SPAMFREE fsfe DOT org> and our office staff will coordinate the necessary steps with you.
If you plan to sell merchandise at the booth, please remember to have suitable change available. Ask your local bank or similar for help in this: many will offer to sell you a suitable set of change. Otherwise, you can of course already start to collect 1-Euro and 2-Euro coins, or the equivalent in your currency. You'll need more than you think.
Prepare price tags and posters. Again, our office staff will be happy to help you in this and provide more information.
Prepare Hardware (Optional)
Prepare a mini PC and a monitor for presenting slideshows, or for example our FSFE15 year Video with the correct subtitles at the booth. Prepare a tablet PC so people can join the FSFE right at the booth and subscribe 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 people from the FSFE community
A booth is also an occasion to meet other people from the FSFE community who live near the event location. So you may consider organising a local group 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 <contact AT fsfe DOT org> and forward a message to the FSFE community in the area (specifying the postcodes that you wish to reach, just as you did before when you announced the event).
1 week before the event
Prepare the material
Send a reminder to the people helping at the booth 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 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, or be able to direct them to someone who can. Here's an easy answer which work in all cases, but of course you should try not to use it too often
I'm not directly involved in that activity, but you can call or email our office at <contact AT fsfe DOT org> and they'll get you in touch with the right person to ask. If you want, I can also take your name and e-mail here, and make sure someone gets back to you?
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 should be encouraged to strike up a conversation. 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 accounting sheet of what you actually received.
- Collect donations if relevant.
- 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 FSFE to do so or to run a eye catching slideshow.
- Showcase 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 FSFE. 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 and some other countries 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 <contact AT fsfe 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 few months where you can use the merchandise, keep the items that you have not sold, but please organise this with our office team. Sometimes, they may ask you to send the merchandise back regardless. 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 accounting sheet by filling in the blue cells. Send it to email@example.com.
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.