Welcome, future student leader. Welcome, future inspirer. Welcome, social change maker! By choosing to read this you’ve already taken the first step in starting a group on your campus. Every campus is different but in essence, they are all the same when it comes to forming a group. As a student myself who has started multiple groups, I hope to guide you on the path of being a leader with the necessary 4 P’s: Passion, Preparation, People, and Pennies.
Behind every successful group, corporation, or political campaign, lies an innovative idea with passion. This passion will be the core of your efforts in creating a group. Your passion will attract people and sponsors, make the burdens of preparing for the club lighter, and will motivate you throughout the highs and lows of the group.
A first step is thinking about how to translate your passion into action. What will your group do? Discuss issues? Raise funds? Think about how your activities will achieve the outcomes you seek.
Once you’ve identified your passion and purpose, and you’re ready to get others on board, you need to nail down some details, including.
- Meeting time and location. Find a location on campus (usually a classroom or open area) and ask the faculty responsible if you may use it at a certain time. Identify how often the group should meet. Depending on the type of group you’re forming it could be as little as twice a month, although once a week is usually ideal.
- What the meetings are like. Consider what activities you want to do in the precious time you have in meetings. It could be training sessions for a competition, a debate among members over a certain issue, or possibly an informational session.
- Make sure you are prepared! Prospective members will be able to tell if you haven’t thought things through enough, so be sure you can answer the questions about purpose, meeting time, place and activities. Now you can reach out to your peers on your campus.
As great as you are, you’re still only one person. Forming a group will enable you to expand your reach by working with others.
- The first step in expanding is identifying your target group. Who has an interest in your cause, and will want to join? Definitely think of your friends, but also target people working with related interests. For example if you’re a civil rights group, you would want to recruit people who are in women’s or African-American rights groups. From there, membership usually branches through those members’ connections.
- In addition to targeting certain groups, publicity is key! Get the word out through your campus newspaper, hanging posters, etc.
- Remember it’s great to have many leaders within a group. Early on you should identify positions you’ll need to fill, including president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, etc. You can’t run the club alone, and having many people involved will ensure there’s a shared sense of ownership.
So now that you have a passion, people, and a club, having money can be very helpful. This money can cover outing fees, buy supplies or food, etc. Be sure to budget emergency funds as well, in case any urgent needs arise. To raise these funds, think about fundraisers on campus including traditional bake sales and if you really want to go old school, lemonade stands. Another way is to get sponsors, for example local businesses.
These four Ps should be enough to get you started! Future leader, remember that you are not perfect. Bring other members into the next steps of expanding the group, planning activities and more. A group functions best when all the members are active as it gives the everyone a shared sense of purpose.