Starting your own club is an incredibly rewarding experience. Aside from sprucing up your resume, you’re also giving back to the UON community and get to make a tonne of friends along the way. But like all good things – it comes with its challenges. Building your club from the ground up can be a huge task. We spoke with Student Engagement Leader, Fiona Mundie, on how to get your club off to a flying start.
Your club must be different
UON is home to more than one hundred clubs. If they aren’t suited to your interests, there’s nothing holding you back from starting your own. But you can’t just start a new version of a club which already exists; it must be something different.
You can find a full list of the clubs and societies here.
Find people who are interested in joining
To start a club you need at least 10 members , and 80% of these members need to be current UON students. Not sure where to find students who are keen on joining? Fiona suggests one of the easiest ways to gauge interest is by discussing it with your friends or the people in your classes at uni.
“It might be people in your tute group, or people you meet with after a study group, or people in your lecture to see if there’s that interest, and if someone else is [willing] to help you.”
Decide who to register with
Depending on the nature of the club you will need to decide whether to register with Student Central or affiliate with the Student Association (UNSA). Sporting clubs must register with NUsport. For those in Port Macquarie and Sydney, you should check with your Campus Life Assistant. By affiliating with Student Central they can help you set up a booth at O week, promote events and help arrange rooms for meetings. NUSA also allow free room bookings at their building, as well as free use of the BBQ.
Reminder: You need to re-affiliate on an annual basis.
Draft a Constitution
Every UON club or society needs a Constitution. Here is where you set out the rules for membership, the responsibilities of the Executive Committee, and the aims of the club. To make life easy for you, the UON Student Central have provided a draft constitution template you can use.
Form your Executive and arrange an Inaugural General Meeting (IGM)
So you’ve found enough people you want to join your club – but who is going to help run it? An Executive typically consists of four positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. You’ll need people who are organised, work well in a team and are just as passionate about seeing the club succeed as you are.
“It’s actually a really big task. What you need to do is gather enough people to create a critical mass who can keep it going, because one person can’t do it by themselves,” said Fiona.
To get the club up and running, you’ll have to organise your first Inaugural General Meeting (IGM). The IGM is your chance to decide upon a name for the club, agree on the objectives, and most importantly, elect your Executive. (Sorry – there are no dictatorships at UON).
A good way to boost attendance for your IGM is by providing catering. What uni student has ever said no to free pizza?
Remember to take minutes of the meeting so you can keep track of everything that was decided.
Reap leadership benefits by completing Generation Governance
Running a club comes with a number of responsibilities, like keeping the finances in order and running events, which are highly valued by employers. Fiona says being on the Executive of a club shows that you “have the teamwork, negotiation and communication skills to succeed in the workforce.”
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any prior experience – that’s what Generation Governance is for. It is a UON-led online learning initiative to help make the most of running a club by showing you how to take minutes and host an AGM. Even better, once completed, you’ll even get a nifty certificate to add to your portfolio.
“It’s a trite thing to say it looks good on your resume, but it does… distinguish you from all the other people who are graduating in the same year, who have the same degree and who may have received the same marks as you,” she said.
Open a Bank Account
You will need to set up a bank account with multiple members as signatories, and one of these must be the Treasurer. If you need help financing your club or society, UON has a number of grants and subsidies to assist. If you need help planning a budget, the Student Engagement Team can help you out.
Plan Activities and Events
Now for the fun part!
Throughout the year you’ll get to organise events and activities for your club. If you ever feel lost, make sure to check the online resources designed to make it easier for you.
For more information on starting a club or society, visit https://www.newcastle.edu.au/current-students/campus-environment/campus-life/clubs-and-societies/start-a-club