Volunteer Newsletter

SLOW Down Newsletter Intro

  • Go to SLOW Down Information page
  • SLOW Down Newsletter Index
  • Let's Go SLOW

    An Occasional Newsletter for Members of Alternatives' SLOW Down Network - Volunteers who Represent Alternatives and Voluntary Simplicity:

    Issue #1 - Introduction (updated occasionally)


    Let's Go SLOW

    An Introduction to Alternatives' SLOW Down Network -

    Alternatives'Volunteers Who Represent Voluntary Simplicity


    Greetings from the National Coordinator, Gerald Iversen [You can call me Jerry.]

    Thank you for volunteering to SLOW Down. You are one of over 700 volunteer motivational Speakers, workshop Leaders, event Organizers and Discussion group consultants.

    You will receive the "Let's SLOW Down" newsletter from time to time (usually twice per year) to give you updates on the SLOW Down Network. Your comments, questions, concerns and funny stories are welcome. Please save the newsletter. It is three hole punched to go in your SLOW Down binder or "Simple Living 101."

    You will receive the support materials you need when your services are requested. If you want to have the complete resource, "Simple Living 101" is available for $10 ($15 in a binder made of recycled material).

    * * *

    A Motto to Remember - "Resources for responsible living and celebrating since 1973"

    Why a SLOW Down (SLOW-D) Network?

    We receive requests for presentations and for help from all over North America... more requests than the staff can handle. SLOW-D is a way to meet those needs and to empower volunteers.

    SLOW-D comes from our Mission Statement. (Please memorize it.)

    Equipping people of faith

    to challenge consumerism,

    live justly and celebrate responsibly.

    Alternatives' "Operational Goal" #1, derived from the mission statement, is:

    "To heighten awareness in an increasingly larger audience about the implications of consumerism and commercialization in the celebrations of Christmas and other holidays."

    From that goal the staff, the members, the members of the board of directors and others strive...

    1) to reach others face-to-face by speaking at conferences and meetings, classes and worship; by leading workshops which you or others organize; by organizing alternative events, such as Third World Crafts and Clothing Christmas Fairs; and by helping to organize study-action groups and simplicity circles,

    2) to support each other through ASSIST, Alternatives' support service or other means, such as helping people start local Simplicity Circles, study/accountability groups, etc.

    This experience is good for all of us. You'll

    find that standing in front of people sharing your convictions will have an effect on YOU. It does on me. I've made some vows that must have come from God because I might not have said them if I'd thought much about them first... such as reducing my possessions by 50% by my 50th birthday. I gave myself a year-and-a-half. I figure it took me over 40 years to get into this mess. I'll give myself a little time to get out!

    Making presentations reminds us of our values and commitments and lets us share them with people who are hungry for ideas and encouragement to live more simply.

    What to Say


    Here is our standard description.



    for Simple Living?


    Alternatives is a non-profit organization that "equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly." Started as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, it encourages celebrations year-round that reflect conscientious ways of living.


    Throughout its 25+ years, Alternatives has helped lead the movement to live more simply and faithfully. The many staff members and volunteers of Alternatives have developed a wide variety of resources, organized an annual Christmas Campaign, held the Best and Worst Christmas Gift Contest, led numerous workshops, and reached countless people with the message of simple, responsible living.


    Alternatives emphasizes relationships and traditions over things, hoping to avoid stress and debt, and promoting alternative giving, thereby helping the needy instead of spending so much on ourselves.


    Alternatives is operated by a small staff which reports to a national Board of Directors. We are funded by memberships and donations, grants, and sales of resources.

    Alternatives issues a free quarterly mail order resource catalog. It includes new listings, other books on living more simply, and resources for children and adults. Alternatives sells its own material and books from other publishers on simpler living and related topics (such as hunger, the environment, media literacy, etc.) for Advent and Christmas, for Lent and Easter, for weddings and for year-round use - some in Spanish. For a current free catalog, call 712/943-6153 or toll free 800-821-6153 anytime.

    Alternatives' website - www.SimpleLiving.org - includes extensive details on our Services, Resources and Information.


    1. May I solicit and arrange my own presentations?

    YES, please let us know where and when you're going and what you need from us. Give us as much lead time as possible. For Resource Guides (catalogs) and brochures, allow at least two weeks; for publicity materials, two months.

    2. What support material is available from Alternatives?

    Flex Talk (the presentation that can last from 15 minutes to two hours)

    Resource Guides (catalogs)


    Alternatives' Resources

    Trade Books


    Past Edition of Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?

    Order Forms


    Whose Birthday Flyers

    Sign-up List

    Publicity (media release, PSAs-Public Service Announcements, bulletin blurbs, etc.)


    3. If I have a display or booth, what do I do?


    a.) Set up the materials in an orderly and attractive way.

    b.) If possible, stand in front of the display and make eye-contact with every person who comes within ten feet of the table.

    c.) If they have a name tag, smile and say "Hi, (name)" I'm (your name) with Alternatives for Simple Living." If they do not have a name tag, do the same thing, omitting their name. Do not ask for their name.

    d.) Use one short, descriptive sentence, such as, "We help people simplify their lives at Christmas time." OR "We help families resist the pressures to overspend at Christmas."

    e.) Then say, "May If offer you a free [catalog, brochure, flyer OR booklet]?"

    f.) Close with "If you would like to be on our mailing list, please sign up."

    g.) Pursue the conversation if they show interest, but not if it means missing others. Listening to others' stories is important for them and for you. Your primary job, however, is making contact with as many people as possible.

    h.) Many folks sit behind their table and wait for people to come to them. That's the passive approach. It's easy and non-threatening. We take a bit more assertive approach. Reach out! In most cases you have only ten seconds to make contact.

    i.) If there's an unusually large number of people passing by, make eye contact with as many as you can, and say "Hi." or "Welcome." If someone stops, use d.-f.


    4. What are some of the "catch" phrases I can use to help people identify Alternatives?


    a.) Alternatives most widely read resource is "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" OR We're the folks who produce "Whose Birthday..."

    b.) Alternatives was in Ellenwood Georgia - the Atlanta area - for many years and has been in Sioux City, Iowa, since 1995.

    c.) Our name is Alternatives for Simple Living but we're best know simply as Alternatives.


    5. Who do I talk to at Alternatives to get help?

    Business Manager Sharene Schwarz is responsible for the SLOW-D Network. You're welcome to talk to any staff member: Office Manager Rose Anne Pridie or National Coordinator Gerald Iversen.

    Memorize our number or keep it in your wallet: 1-800-821-6153.

    You can call with questions before, during or after the event. Give that toll-free number to anyone who wants more information. (Yes, we did try to get one that was easier to remember.)

    Except on holidays, someone is here M-F, 8:30-5:00 Central time (and on Saturdays, September-December). At all other times, our voice mail takes messages and orders. So, anyone can call that number anytime. We have three lines, but if both are busy, the call goes to voice mail. It does not ring busy.

    Customer service and satisfaction are very important to us. If you have or hear suggestions or comments, please let us know. We are a small organization in a "niche" market. Every customer is important.


    6. What's in "Simple Living 101" (formerly SLO Handbook?

    A. Introduction: Alternatives and the SLO Network

    Mission Statement


    B. Contents

    For Motivational Speakers

    Flex Talk

    Cost Analysis

    "Let's Talk About Christmas" Worksheet

    Alternative Giving Card

    Sunday Worship Outlines and Sample Sermon

    Display Guidelines

    For Workshop Leaders

    "Welcome to the World of Enough"

    -David Shrock-Schenk

    Kathleen Connelly Outline

    For Event Organizers

    How to Organize an Alternative Christmas Community Festival.

    Planning an Alternative Christmas Workshop

    For Discussion Groups

    "10 Tips" Discussion Series

    C. More Resources

    Study Guides for Bible Classes & Study Circles

    Workshop Resources

    Family Activities/Community Building


    7. What are the SLOW-D Network procedures?

    When a request for a speaker, leader or organizer comes to us, we give the host the names and phone numbers of several volunteers to contact. In some cases we try to find or recruit a volunteer in the area. When we get a commitment, the volunteer and the host work out the details. We send out appropriate support and promotional materials to each party.

    The volunteer prepares and makes the presentation, then sends us an evaluation. Any expenses (such as mileage) are paid to the volunteer, any honorium is paid to Alternatives.

    Alternatives pays the shipping for support materials. Catalogs should be distributed as beneficially as possible, not discarded nor returned. If nothing else, they should at least be recycled. Other salable items should be returned to Alternatives unless other arrangements are made with us.

    We will provide you with resources for your presentation (in addition to free support materials). If you choose to keep the resources, you may buy them at the wholesale price. Usually, resources provided for workshops are display copies, i.e. they are marked "display" and not necessarily in new condition. A volunteer at a workshop takes orders for Alternatives. We then deal directly with each individual customer, so the volunteer does not collect money or sales tax, nor make deliveries. The volunteer is not a reseller but is our representative and does not stand to profit from sales.

    On the other hand, resources provided for Consignment Sales (such as book fairs and fund raisers) are in new condition. The consignee/organizer collects the money and sales tax, delivers the goods and stands to profit from the event. The organizer is a reseller. (See Consignment Sales Guidelines.)

    If you donate your mileage and other expenses, you may deduct them from your income tax (if you itemize). Submit the number of miles and actual cost of other expenses after an event and Alternatives will provide you a receipt for your taxes. Such a receipt is required if you claim an in-kind contribution to Alternatives of $250 or more in a given tax year.

    8. Any Tips on Scheduling?

    More workshops and other events related to Voluntary Simplicity occur in the fall than all the other seasons combined. In summer many general conferences and conventions occur that may include workshops about the topic.

    For a short series (fewer than 13 sessions), the school year is the most popular time. Try scheduling one about Christmas in the fall and one about year-'round simpler living in the winter, possibly during Lent.

    Take the initiative. We'll back you up! Don't worry if don't see yourself as "there" yet. Approach the group as fellow travelers. "Let's learn about living more simply together."

    This experience is good for all of us.

    Thanks again.

    (G.I. 1/98, 1/01) recycled paper

    Go to SLOW Down Information page  |   SLOwdown Newsletters Index

    Updated 20 February 2013 (27 February 2003)

    Simple Living Works! * SimpleLivingWorks@Yahoo.com
    BLOG: SimpleLivingWorks.WordPress.com | Blog INDEX
    PODCAST | Podcast INDEX
    VIDEOS: YouTube.com/SimpleLivingWorks
    MISSION: Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly // An all volunteer educational organization.