Prep For Success With These Club Tips

It’s the beginning of a new school year! We know your mind is swirling and your to-do list is growing, so here’s an easy list of pro tips that will help your club get ready for a successful year ahead!

By Jordan Griffith, Student Programs media intern

It can be difficult managing a club while dealing with other extracurriculars and coursework — trust me, I’ve been there. In my experience of being a club leader, I found that planning ahead can save you a lot of time and lower your stress levels during the school year.

I’ve put together this list of to-do’s to act as a reminder of some crucial things that should be done at the beginning of the school year in order for your clubs to be successful. Other things on the list are merely suggestions based on my experience of being a club leader and what I wish someone would have told me before I started.

Whether you’re a current club or someone looking to start one, here’s a helpful checklist to ensure your success for the school year.

Register your club. Remember to register your club through your school administration as well as with Operation Smile every year. Most schools require you to fill out a form listing the purpose of the club and any materials you require. They may even require you to meet with staff members to discuss your club. Completing this step is crucial in order to secure meetings or post any information you want at school. This can make it hard to recruit new members, so you definitely want to ensure the registration is completed properly. Make sure you email your academic adviser or school administration for the form. Also, remember to ask them when the deadline to submit the form is. Learn more about registering your school club with Operation Smile.

Write bylaws for the club. Bylaws generally define the purpose of the club, how people join, how club elections are held, identify club positions and more.

This could be optional. It depends on your school’s administration, but nonetheless, it’s a great way to stay organized and have a reference in case anyone has any questions. It makes it easy and effective to tell others because all the information is listed in one place. 

Two students from Brooke Point High School in Virginia hold speech therapy sock puppets they made as part of a service project. (Photo by Jordan Griffith)

Make sure the school sets up a bank account under your organization’s name by your school. This is a very important aspect of your club. This ensures how you are able to accept donations, deposit money earned from fundraisers, and then transfer all the fundraised money to Operation Smile at the end of the school year. Make sure to speak with your academic adviser about this, as well as the staff member who is in charge of club-affiliated finances. 

This is also something the treasurer of the club could be responsible for, but all officer positions should be aware of this. The treasurer’s position includes tracking how much money is raised, managing the club’s budget, and its expenses. Something to think about is having the treasurer and staff member in charge of finances in contact with one another. This is a good way to track your progress and know how close you are to your goal. You could also ask the staff member of help offer up creative fundraising ideas during an officer meeting.

Establish a budget for the year. Regardless if your school will help finance any materials you might need, setting a budget is a great idea. It makes it easier and more effective when planning big or small events. Create two categories when planning a budget: One for small purchases, and one for large purchases. For example, small purchases could be printing costs, snacks and drinks; large purchases could be any materials required, trips, so on. The treasurer should come up with a rough estimate for the two categories and how to cover expenses. 

A good way to help pay for some of the club’s expenses is to determine if members have the ability to donate any materials needed. If any of your members are a part of the National Honor Society or any other organization that requires service hours, donating materials to your club would count toward their hours. It’s a win for the club and the members all together! Another way to cover expenses is to consider fundraisers or club dues. 

Seek out individuals who are devoted to Operation Smile. When trying to recruit new officers, it’s important they realize the commitment they’re making to the organization by taking a leadership role. Finding people who are equally as passionate about an organization like you is one thing, but finding someone passionate who’s disciplined, determined and has good time management skills — that’s next level. Consider asking anyone interested in an officer position to submit their resume, or have them write why they are interested in that leadership role.

Jordan is a Student Programs’ media intern and president of Virginia Tech’s Operation Smile chapter. She has been involved with Operation Smile for almost six years; she first learned about the organization through one of her best friends when she lived in Southern California. Since then, she has found a passion for assisting others and engaging with individuals who share an interest in being leaders in their communities. 

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