By Tyler McNeil
At the end of every semester, after club elections are held, members are excited for what comes next. Unfortunately, it often takes three months’ worth of blank pages just to get to the next chapter and by time you’ve reached the next chapter, no one wants to read it anymore.
How do you keep the hype ripe for your campus club over the summer? Well, it’s not an easy task but, fear not, with the right amount of effort, your club can be on the top of its game for next fall.
Engage in informal meetings
How does a club manage to meet over the summer when most of its officers are either working multiple jobs or seem to be halfway around the globe? Fortunately, it’s 2015 and communication is practical with the latest technology. Unfortunately, the commitment to using this technology seems to lag behind significantly in certain circles.
Although it’s easier to communicate with three different people at once over group chat, talking about your club face-to-face with one member will always make a bigger difference. If you can engage with other club officers offline, even if it’s not a full group discussion — do it. Schedule several informal meetings for local members before the summer begins to assure at least an outline for meetings in the coming months.
For members not in the area or overwhelmed with outside tasks, make it a priority to stay in touch with the group about plans for the coming school year via email, text, and social media.
Keep members interested over the summer
Here’s a hypothetical scenario: there’s a huge turnover in your club, and your once-subpar members are now club executives because there’s simply no one left. This is every club member’s worst nightmare, right? Wrong.
Sometimes a campus club can feel like a cult, and despite how important it can be to bond with other members on a regular basis, ignoring interested outsiders can contribute to the organization’s bitter demise. If you fail to get to know newer members early, especially when they’ve gained a seat on the executive board, the organization can lose sight of its goal if its members don’t communicate well.
When getting to know club members, ask about and evaluate their strengths to learn what they can contribute to the organization. Always remind fellow officers about their strengths in the initial stages of planning for the fall.
Make friends with your budget
One of the most important connections you can make over the summer is your budget. Getting to know your club’s budget will elevate how fiscally responsible your campus organization is and what resources you can use to make expenditures for the upcoming year. Regardless of your club’s plan for the future, organizing the budget to accommodate that plan will judge how attainable the future is.
In coordination with other club representatives, set a budget plan in motion early through email or social media. It will be easier to plan out possible events, trips and other expenses throughout the year if the budget is mapped out by July.
Establish a fundraising quota through group discussion and use previous fundraisers to estimate an average for exactly how much is needed to meet this quota. Spending limits can be broken, but if there isn’t an initial spending limit, the organization can become broken as well.
Out with the old, in with the old
Campus extracurriculars detract from the humdrum and sometimes overwhelming experience that community college can bring, especially at commuter colleges. Depending on the age of your campus club, some alumni can testify to the difference one group made to their overall experience at the college. At a community college, club turnover is a yearly phenomenon which dictates the success or failure of any organization — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
As clubs evolve under new leadership every year, sometimes they leave behind small but shrewd policy changes that disappear over the summer months. Communication with new as well as old officers is critical to ensuring that campus clubs move in a steady direction. Never be afraid to ask for advice from former club presidents as your organization makes a transition of power.
It’s almost never too early to recruit
As a continuation of what has been said, planning early during the summer months makes a considerable impact on the flow of the club. Freshman students are often targeted for recruitment and retention once fall classes begin. This is a mistake.
Many students will never express interest to be active on campus. Students who are interested in being involved on campus will want to be involved months before they enter campus. This is important.
Recruitment and retention strategies should always be made before day one. Setting up meeting dates in coordination with the college’s communications department is likely to get more people interested in your organization before they even pay for a single textbook.
Reach out to your community
The fall semester can change from easygoing to hectic in a heartbeat. Any idea to engage your club with community efforts can be easily be swept under the rug as a result of unexpected twists and turns in your personal life or academia.
Create a concrete plan to work with other clubs or organizations in your community before the semester begins. Discuss any plans to work with outside organizations through informal meetings with advisors, officers and outside networks. Outreach efforts will run much smoother if they’re planned weeks or even months in advance.
Merge club goals with individual goals
When your body isn’t on campus, neither is your mind and neither are your responsibilities as part of the campus body. For many student leaders, the summer becomes so much of an independent venture with work and social opportunities that they lose sight of their roles as club officials. Although the summer may be a great time to escape some of the strains of college life, keep a bit of college with you during the months ahead so that when you come back, you won’t feel misplaced in a foreign habitat.
It’s important to start networking with local officials in the private and public sector through events and informal discussions off-the-record. Creating leadership experiences through internships and volunteer work unrelated to club activities is a great way to become a better club leader.
The growth that you achieve over the summer can set the pace for your club next fall. Although time constraints and availability can set barriers in planning for the next semester, it’s critical to remember the difference between roadblocks and dead ends. This summer is a opportunity to find avenues in writing the next chapter of your club’s success.