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How to bribe humanists to attend an AGM: make a meal of it...

At Dorset Humanists we know the true meaning of bribery! An AGM might not be the most exciting meeting of the year, but with the promise of “scrumptious” food we managed to entice over 30 of our paid-up members to attend. As a result, we had a fantastic day eating, drinking, chatting, socialising... oh, and getting the business of the day done too!

Dorset Humanists, officially standing at 188 members strong, also has over a thousand contacts on and nearly that many across social media platforms. This large reservoir of people enables us to find a constant supply of “workhorses” who are willing to do the lion's share of the work, as well as helping to keep costs down with economies of scale.

Catering for an anticipated turnout of 40 (or fewer people with big appetites) we prepared baguettes, finger food and a selection of yummy desserts which always go down well. We also do a hot lunch on Darwin Day that we charge for, but the AGM buffet lunch is entirely free to all who come along. As they might say in political circles, this is only possible because we have a “strong and stable” committee in place, and “positive growth across our quarterly returns”. Well, perhaps you can tell its budget month as I write this report. But unlike the government's illusory giveaways, our group is on strong financial ground and can manage to factor in a free lunch as well as all the other activities we host, including two guest speakers per month. In return for the complimentary lunch, our members donated £142 to start our 2024 Appeal in support of a local food bank and the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (last year, this Appeal raised £2,610).

There was, of course, all the usual feedback about the year’s accounts, events listings, school visit summaries, charity appeal reports and more to be getting along with, culminating in the highly prestigious Humanist of the Year award, this year won by our speaker organiser, Simon Whipple. Autographs available upon request!

As the event wrapped up, we voted in our 2024 committee which stands at a very healthy twelve members (one of whom was unable to attend the photo shoot) covering all the typical roles of Treasurer, Secretary, SACRE reps and school visitors, social secretary, and so on. There are at least an additional twelve people who help out with catering, room set-up, events help, walks and so forth.

Over the years we’ve replaced disposable paper plates with reusable plastic, and we have very low waste. Any left over food is typically taken home, or given away, leaving nothing to go in the bin.

How does your group manage its AGM? Do you party hard as well as work hard? We would love to hear about them, with photos, if you wish to share your events with Humanistically Speaking.

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