Growing a club, both in number and influence, can be daunting task on any college campus. With competing interests, busy schedules, and demanding classes, it takes quite a bit of commitment in order to secure new members and elevate the visibility of your club on campus. Here are some great ways you can increase your club’s reach on campus:
1.) Get campus-sponsored: Most campuses have two basic kinds of clubs: campus-sponsored and non-sponsored. While some students view the hoops one has to jump through in order to get campus-sponsored as arbitrary and unnecessary, your club will reap the benefits of such a sponsorship if you have the due diligence to get sponsored in the first place. Certain campus-wide events are only available to campus-sponsored groups, you’ll likely be featured and advertised in various campus guides, and you have access to campus funding that will help your club achieve its goals. These are just a few examples of the benefits that come along with campus-sponsorship, so don’t let your laziness get in the way of increasing your club’s reach.
2.) Make strategic sacrifices: Just as first impressions often dictate personal relationships, you club’s first impression on the student body will largely dictate what sort of response and support it will garner in the future. My student group always made a point of kicking our semesters off with a bang by offering discounted (even free) admission to our first event. Not only did we get a wonderful turnout for that event, we were given the opportunity to make a lasting impression on this larger portion of the student body and hopefully earn their continued support. Even though you might run in the red for the discounted/ free event itself, you’ll make up for it throughout the semester as more people will be inclined to participate in future events.
3.) Find your niche: Even on the smallest campuses, there are still a wide variety of students and interests. If you’re trying to branch out to the entire campus community all at once, you’ll likely miss the mark, as different groups are looking for different things. In my experience, it’s easiest to focus on winning over one particular sub-group of the campus community and working out from there. For instance, in advertising a screening of a skiing movie we were showing on campus, we focused our efforts on the Ski and Snowboard Club. That meant we weren’t passing out flyers all over campus, but rather attending their meeting to make an announcement and invite them personally to attend. Being pointed and purposeful is much more important that trying to reach everyone on campus. Once you establish relationships with a few different sub-groups on campus, your reach will continue to grow with word of mouth and a shifting focus to other sub-groups.
4.) Hire for passion: This is something that might not apply to all groups, but if your group is one in which membership is decided by application, you should evaluate a candidate on how passionate he/she is about your club and it’s purpose. Whether or not the person has the “right” amount of experience isn’t all that important, as you can train him/her once she joins the club. What you can’t train someone on is being engaged and dedicated to the club, which makes it important you worry about the candidate’s passion for the club during the hiring process. Find out why the person wants to be a part of the club and what it would mean to them. If they are joining to simply fill a resume, you’ll likely find your club in trouble. It’s too easy to get preoccupied with something else and put the club’s needs and priorities on the back burner.
Increasing your club’s reach on campus is definitely a daunting task, and accordingly, you need to try a number of different things together in order to ensure success. It’s all about gaining the buy-in of your members and potential members. If you’ve got a truly dedicated group of people, the growth and notoriety will come.