Now in its second year, the Servas Experiences program is intended to build stronger local Servas communities, introduce non-members to the organization and raise funds for Servas through optional donations.
Imagine an enjoyable, enriching, unusual experience that enables you to meet Servas members in your area, promote Servas to potential members and raise money for US Servas — all at the same time! This is what Servas Experiences are designed for. Any Servas member can lead a Servas Experience. Pick your favorite peacebuilding activity and promote it to members in your area. If the Experience requires an expertise that you do not have, you can find someone else to provide it. This document will guide you through the steps of organizing a successful Servas Experience.
GUIDELINES FOR LEADERS
by David Schwartz
1. Identify an Activity or Event There is no limit to the type of activities that could make a successful experience. In general, try to organize something that many people wouldn’t ordinarily know about or be able to do on their own… or else provide some added value. To illustrate the the diversity of possibilities, here are the Servas Experiences offered during the California pilot project in Fall-Winter 2018-19:
- Berkeley Art Museum tour. (It turned out to be mostly a self-guided tour, which was a misunderstanding with museum staff, but everyone had a good time! This was scheduled to take place immediately before a local area Servas gathering at a nearby venue.)
- geology hike in Marin Headlands Leader is an environmental educator familiar with the geology of the area
- tour and tasting of spirits at a local craft distillery
- kayak tour in Richardson Bay (Sausalito) Organized with Sea Trek, a local kayak tour company, which provided equipment and professional guides
- walking history tour in downtown Los Angeles followed by dim sum lunch in LA Chinatown Leader is a Servas member and local history expert. He made advance arrangements for a group lunch at the restaurant.
- sailing in San Francisco Bay on a boat owned and skippered by a Servas member who charters it professionally
Sometimes it makes sense to wrap two or more activities into the same Experience. For instance, the downtown LA walking tour is followed by a Chinese lunch. A hike could be followed by a pot-luck supper and then stargazing at a local observatory. A concert at a little-known venue could be followed by optional philosophizing at a watering hole nearby.
2. Figure out the cost, including optional donation to Servas. Some activities have a built-in cost paid to an outside organization. Speak to someone in the organization who might be able to provide a discount or even provide complimentary admission for the entire group. The director of the Berkeley Art Museum comped all 30 of us! We asked participants to pay the regular admission fee, all of which went to Servas. The head of Sea Trek lowered the regular price of a 3-hour kayak tour from $75 to $50 per person provided we scheduled outside the busiest season; the $25 difference went to Servas. The geology hike had no built-in cost but participants were asked to donate $15 to Servas. The LA walking tour had no cost and the lunch cost $20 per person; each participant paid $30, so $10 went to Servas. The distillery charged $25 admission but gives non-profit organizations an $80 gift certificate to use toward the tour, so the $80 went to Servas (along with the full $25 of a no-show who donated it!).
2. How to get the money If you are collecting at the event because no pre-registration was required, you’ll probably get mostly cash which you can either bring to a bank for a cashier’s check made out to US Servas or you can keep and replace with a personal check to Servas. Anyone who wants to pay by check can write it to US Servas. If you must pre-register or reserve for participants, you should collect the money in advance. Decide how you would like to receive it. Checks can be sent to you. (Additionally, you can provide the option of money being transferred to your own Paypal, Venmo or other account.) If the money is being divided between an outside organization and Servas, it’s probably easiest to have the checks made to you; you then pay the vendor and send Servas the difference.
3. Write a title and description of your Experience. Title should be brief (“Kayaking in Sausalito” “Berkeley Art Museum Tour” “LA Downtown Walk and Chinatown Brunch”) Try to get photos, either taken by you or someone you know, or from an organization’s website or media department. Use photos only with permission.
4. Add information people may need to know:
- Cost (break it down to fixed costs plus suggested donation to Servas)
- If advance registration is required tell people how to get the money to you. Provide a deadline. Whether or not advance registration is necessary will depend on the nature of the activity and coordination with outside organizations.
- Place and time to meet. You might want to include an ending time for the Experience.
- How to get questions answered (for example, your name and email or phone number)
- State that non-members are welcome (we see the Experiences program as a way to introduce prospective members to the organization).
5. Send proposal to your local Experiences Coordinator for approval. Use last page of this document as a form. (You may want to discuss with her/him first.) If your area doesn’t have a local Experiences coordinator, you’re it! You can encourage other members in your area to lead future Experiences. (Run your proposal by another coordinator such as David Schwartz or Paige LaCombe.)
6. Promote your Experience Do any or all of the following, as per your talents and preferences. (Not all are necessary.)
- Design a flyer that you can hand out at gatherings, send by email, post on social media, etc.
- Send out your Experience announcement (and photos) via a local emailing list. (Try to collect names and email addresses at local gatherings.)
- Send all of your information, concisely and enticingly written and including all relevant information, to the Servas Volunteer Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) for mass distribution to members in the appropriate geographical area.
- Post on your area’s Servas listserv. If your area doesn’t have a listserv, the Volunteer Coordinator can set one up and send a mailing announcing it to local members who will be able to opt in.
- Make a verbal announcement at a local gathering. If someone else organizes gatherings in your area, try to coordinate with her or him so the gathering will come at a good time for announcing the Experience.
7. Have fun!
8. Send your pictures to the office (email to: Volunteer@USServas.org) Post pictures and an account of the Experience on social media, including the new Servas blog as well as the “US Servas Members and Friends” Facebook page, any local FB pages for your area (if none exists, set one up!) and anything else you like to use.
9. Send the donated money to US Servas Office, 1125 16th Street, Suite 201, Arcata CA 95521. Do not send the money until after the Experience has taken place, in case it has to be returned for some reason.
10. Be proud and tell everyone! You have had fun, you’ve helped strengthen your local Servas community and you’ve raised money for a peace organization – all at the same time!
SERVAS EXPERIENCE PROPOSAL
Leader name and contact information:
Co-leader, if any:
Title of Event:
Brief but Enticing Description
Meeting time and place:
Ending time (approximate):
Maximum number of participants, if any:
If Experience involves an outside organization (tour guide, outfitter, theater, restaurant, etc.) name it and provide website, if any:
Fixed cost that must be covered (admission, outside tour guide cost, transportation, food, etc.)
Suggested Donation to Servas:
How money can be sent to leader: