Starting a club is a great way to combine work and play. If you have an interest or a cause that isn’t represented on campus, starting a club is one way to exude your passion, make new friends and gain some entrepreneurial experience.
“As president of a club you not only learn how to manage a team and utilize your time, but you also learn financial planning, event planning, and how to successfully advertise and promote yourself.”
—Chad Fullerton, founder of McMaster University’s MacInsiders.com
He continued running it in the form of a website once he’d graduated and now the club exists as an online community where McMaster students can access discussion forums to learn more about student life, news, events and class reviews. The community boasts more than 11,000 members.
Partnership and teamwork
Starting a club is a lot of work and, depending on the nature of your club, you may see an obvious need to fulfil certain roles. Make sure the partners you choose are as dedicated and dependable as you are. Don’t pick someone who doesn’t have the time or the reliability to support your cause.
On the other hand, if your partner doesn’t share your passion, or your interest, it won’t matter how dedicated they are; they’ll lose motivation later.
Fullerton designed the MacInsiders website himself and later collaborated with close friends in order to complete the work that follows from having more than 1,000 members.
“If putting a team of staff together, keep it small to be most effective,” Fullerton says. “Have a core team of staff that you feel comfortable managing and can connect closely with, and build in different levels of responsibility.”
Funding and resources
Starting a club is difficult work—picture application forms, assigning roles and dealing with the ratification process. Fullerton says he applied to the McMaster Students Union to start a club and received a small amount of funding to help support the website, along with the authority (as a club) to host events on campus.
If your club aims to be a university chapter for an international or outside-school group (such as Amnesty International), you may be able to procure supplies, company information or funding from the group upon writing to them or calling.
Fullerton says companies may be willing to sponsor or provide a venue for events, or even discounts. Printing companies, for instance, often offer discounts if you include them on your flyer or advertisement.
Find out if your school has a clubs administrator, manager of student affairs or someone who occupies a similar position of handling student clubs. This person makes it their job to answer your questions and provide guidance for starting your own club on campus.
Once your club has been established, it’s time to meet with its members. Fullerton says he recommends providing an agenda for every meeting, especially when the club is new, so members know what to expect and to help keep everyone focused and on task. Minutes should also be recorded for later reference.
Keep members well-notified of meetings in advance. It’s best to stick to the same time and place. Your school may already have designated club meeting areas and may require advance notice or other procedures, so be sure to inquire.
Starting a club gives one a fulfilling sense of accomplishment and huge reward—take the fact that you are sharing your interest in a dedicated space, for instance. You also gain the advantage with employers, as you improve your skill set and prove you initiative.
“As president of a club you not only learn how to manage a team and utilize your time, but you also learn financial planning, event planning, and how to successfully advertise and promote yourself,” Fullerton says.
“With over 200 clubs at McMaster, creating a brand for yourself and getting the key points across to students about what value your club can offer them is very important and can be challenging.” Successful self-branding is increasingly becoming a necessary skill in the 21st century as students and employers turn to Twitter and other social media platforms to promote their work or find a job.
Starting a club could be just what you need to fill a campus niche, a desire for a passionate interest, and a few slots on your resumé.