New School Year, New Clubs: Start Strong With These Tips

You’ve already taken the first important step to success: creating an Operation Smile club. Follow these other steps and your club will rocking and rolling in no time!

By Shayla Gramajo, Student Programs media intern

Raise club awareness: As an approved club, your main goal should be to raise as much awareness as you can. Start by gaining more members, which can be accomplished through a club fair, fliers, or word of mouth. Once members learn about the club’s mission, they’ll be excited to join in the cause! Don’t feel discouraged if members don’t start rolling in as quickly; it will take time, and soon you’ll see students who share the same passion for the club.

Engage and educate club members: Here comes the best part: You’ve raised club awareness, and now you’re ready to hold your first club meeting! Take this opportunity to engage and educate your club members about Operation Smile’s work, values and mission. Be sure to ask them the essential Operation Smile questions: What made them want to join, where did they first learn about the nonprofit, and what do they hope to gain from the club in terms of volunteering. To engage your members, think creatively! You can create a presentation, host icebreaker events for your club members, and add a fun spin to service projects such as enjoying pizza while making cards for our patients!

Smile Fund: A great website that student leaders should be aware of is the Smile Fund platform! With each event you plan, it’s important to include your personal club Smile Fund link for others to donate to. By creating your club Smile Fund, your club members will be able to see their direct impact on our patients, as the club is making safe surgery possible for our patients.

Create an executive board (also known as an “E-board”: Now that you’ve started up your Operation Smile club, you’ll want to build a dedicated team of your own. Some great advice we can provide is choose your team wisely. You’ll want to choose a diverse team, consisting of different grade levels and majors. This way, the club is set up for the future and will remain active for years to come. Some great starting E-board positions include president, vice president, secretary, social media chair, fundraising chair, and treasurer.

Know your regional associates: To learn more about all things Operation Smile, such as global events and important awareness days, you’ll want to reach out to your regional associates. Staying connected with your regional associates will provide more insight into Operation Smile and share opportunities to get your club meaningfully involved in the organization’s special initiatives.

Prepare events and fundraisers: Once you know your regional associate, you can plan events and fundraisers on important national days. You can always reach out to your regional associate to gain up-to-date information and guidance for your club. Since a new year is coming up, you might want to create a monthly plan for your future fundraisers. A pro tip would be to organize unique events planned near big holidays!

Attend Step UP or ISLC: A great way to engage your club members is by inviting them to the annual Step UP Symposium conference! This conference unites undergraduate students from various colleges to discuss new ideas and share in the passion of Operation Smile. Step Up Symposium acts as another outlet for students to gain insight into the medical cause and potential opportunities!

Our International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) is for our high school-age advocates who want to take their involvement with Operation Smile to the next level. Consider inviting all your club members to attend the conference and learn more about our organization — and themselves!

To learn more about student opportunities, be sure to join in on all the fun by following @osstudpro on Instagram!