Developing Your Organization
The Benefits of Student Senate Recognition
Gaining initial recognition by Student Senate and re-registering each year entitles your organization to some important benefits. These include:
• the use of University facilities and services for group meetings or events
• eligibility for Student Senate funding
• the opportunity to establish a university account for your organization
• advertising in official University publications and calendars
• the opportunity to set up a Wittenberg Web page for your group
Recruitment and Retention
Recruitment is the lifeblood of your organization. It brings in new members and ideas, and it ensures the continued viability of the group. Retention focuses on the current members of the group and their needs. The organization that understands its people will retain them as members. An effective recruitment and retention plan will attract the best people to your group and insure that they will stay involved.
Recruitment should be continuous, and it should utilize the talents and energies of every member of your organization. Even if your group only accepts new members at certain times of the year, your current members should always be meeting new people and introducing your organization to them. There are several action steps you can take to make your recruiting efforts effective.
A. Build Group Spirit
Effective recruiting begins with active and dedicated group members. Encourage everyone in the group to take pride in their membership. Ask members to wear group apparel or hang posters from group events in their living spaces. Every member of your group should be able to speak honestly and with pride about the organization's accomplishments.
B. Educate Your Members
The students in your group should be familiar with the organization's purpose and activities. They should be able to state the current goals and objectives of the group. They should know the group's history and be able to tell about specific instances in which it has contributed positively to the Wittenberg community. Additionally, they should understand the benefits and responsibilities of membership. Not every group is right for every person, so your members should speak frankly about the requirements of belonging.
C. Develop a Recruitment Plan
• Identify the most effective time(s) of year to recruit.
• Know the types of people you want to attract, keeping in mind the importance of diversity to the strength of the organization.
• Determine the number of new members your group needs.
• Decide where to focus your recruitment efforts - residence halls, off-campus apartments, academic departments, campus-wide.
• Determine the recruitment methods that work best for your group. Poll your current members to learn how they were attracted and what ways have worked in the past.
• Choose a theme or slogan for your recruitment campaign: one that is memorable and that describes an important attribute of your group. Promote the aspects of your group that distinguish it from other campus organizations. Why should someone choose your group instead of another?
• Develop recruitment programs and activities that maximize personal interaction. Create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere and give potential members the opportunity to spend time with current group members. Small groups are best.
• Utilize major campus events such as the Activities Fair, Homecoming, and WittFest to promote your group. Set up a booth at these events and draw attention to it.
• Follow up with Potential Members
When someone has begun to show interest in the group or participated in a recruitment activity, follow up with him or her. Ask him for feedback on the program. Thank her for spending time getting to know your organization and its members. Offer to answer any questions he or she might have. Personally invite him to attend the next group meeting.
A. Of course, a healthy organization needs not only effective recruitment strategies, but also a plan to retain the members who have already joined. So, what's the best way to keep members involved? Every group is different, but some tried-and-true methods for engaging members and helping them see their significance to the group are as follows: Get Together Regularly - Hold meetings and events throughout the academic year, without long gaps. If possible, try to meet in the same place at the same time each week or month. Create a calendar of meetings, programs and deadlines and distribute it to all members
B. Value Everyone's Time - Start every meeting and event on time. Let members know in advance what the time commitment will be for particular activities. Stay on task at meetings and make sure that there are items of substance to discuss. It is okay to cancel a meeting occasionally for lack of an agenda.
C. Communicate Frequently - Keep everyone informed about the group's activities and plans. Good communication keeps everyone "in the loop." People will stay involved if they feel they are a part of what's going on. Open communication also builds trust.
D. Use Everyone's Talents - Match people with jobs that appeal to them and play to their strengths. Know the experience and skill levels of your members and assign responsibility accordingly.
E. Reward and Recognize - Say thank you as often as you can. Let them know you appreciate their efforts. This is especially important when working with volunteers. After a major program, plan an after-party and invite everyone to celebrate with you the successful completion of the project. Give away coupons for free ice cream or other inexpensive treats. Write an article for The Torch about the event and mention all of the volunteers by name in it.
F. Focus on Academics - Help your members maintain good grades by planning your organization's activities with the academic calendar in mind. Ask frequently about classes, keeping an eye out for a member who may be struggling. Invite your faculty advisor to present a workshop on note-taking, time management, or another topic related to academic success. Set and uphold GPA standards for the group's leaders and members. Student Senate requires that all student organization officers maintain a 2.3 GPA minimum.
G. Invest in People - Train and develop the members of your organization. Find out their interests and look for on-campus and off-campus opportunities to increase their skills. Ask experienced members to work with new members. Keep the future leadership of the group in mind, paying close attention to those who show promise and interest.
H. Seek and Listen - Ask members for their opinions on decisions relating to the organization. Seek input at every turn. Listen carefully to group concerns and praise, then incorporate their thoughts into the final decision. Address conflicts openly and immediately.
I. Keep it Fun - People join groups to meet new friends and join in fun activities. Take time to build up your team, increasing their personal connections. Make meetings fun and interesting by including activities that help members get to know each other better. Hold informal social events periodically so that every group activity is not about the work.
How to Run an Effective Meeting
As an organizational leader it is important to know how to run an effective meeting. Effective meetings lead to increased attendance and greater commitment to the organization from its membership.
• To begin, pick a day, time, and place to have your meetings. Try to keep these consistent from week to week so that if members miss a meeting they know when and where to come back. You can work with the Scheduling Office to get your meeting space reserved for the entire semester so that you will be sure to have it each time.
• Before your meeting, determine the issues that need to be addressed and create an agenda. This will help you remember everything you need to do at the meeting and ensure that your time will be used efficiently. Give the members of your group a chance to contribute to the agenda, too.
• Share the agenda with your members at the beginning of each meeting. Work through the agenda, thoroughly covering each topic before moving onto the next. Avoid being repetitive, or jumping ahead on the agenda.
• At the end of the meeting, briefly recap important information such as upcoming event dates and always remind your members of the next meeting.
• Always be sure to start and end your meeting on time, and keep minutes to aid in planning your next meeting.
* Source for this section: Student Organization Handbook, Fourth Edition, Spalding University, August 1997, pp. 23-25.
While its use may at first seem intimidating to new leaders and members, parliamentary procedure is, in fact, an effective means of structuring discussions and saving time in meetings. Every student leader should be familiar with parliamentary procedure and know when to and when not to use it. For example, most informal committee meetings depend on free-flowing discussion and the use of parliamentary procedure would hinder this. But for larger and more formal meetings, where the decisions of the organization are recorded in minutes, parliamentary procedure should be used in many (but not all) instances. When debating controversial subjects, parliamentary procedure can help focus attention on the issue at hand and away from personal comments about other members who hold particular opinions.
The basic element of parliamentary procedure is the motion, which is a proposal to do something and requires a vote of the membership. In order to present a motion:
• You must wait to be recognized by the leader.
• Then, state your motion briefly and wait for another member to agree to discuss what you proposed. This is called a second.
• Once a motion has been made and seconded, discussion begins.
• If you made the motion, the leader will normally allow you to speak first in the discussion.
• After that, other members may take turns debating the pros and cons of what you stated.
• Members may only discuss the motion on the floor, not other members or their opinions. They should also clearly state that they are in favor of or opposed to the motion.
• A motion may be amended during discussion by adding something to it, taking something away, or substituting one phrase for another.
After all members who wish to speak have done so, or when discussion has become repetitive, the leader needs to ask the group for a vote.
Please refer to the chart on the next page for common procedures and the phrases needed to accomplish them. For further information about parliamentary procedure, contact the Office of Student Involvement.
As a leader it is impossible to complete every task on your own. Keep in mind that students joined your organization because they were interested in working for its purpose. Therefore, it is important to delegate responsibilities to your members. Delegation occurs primarily when there is a large task to complete. The best way to delegate is to know what your members like to do and what they do well. Based on this information you can give your members tasks they will enjoy and that will benefit your organization. When delegating a task, be specific in your expectations but also allow room for creativity. Follow up with your member by asking questions, giving positive feedback and making suggestions. Once the task is completed, make sure to recognize the efforts of the person who did it.
Creating and Maintaining A Web Page
One way to promote your organization and its activities is through the use of a Web page. All Senate-recognized student groups are encouraged to create and maintain one. A list of all the student organizations and Web sites can be found at the following address:
To create a Web page, you must first choose someone to be your site's Web master. This person should contact the Office of Student Involvement and request permission to begin work. Student Involvement work with the Computing Solution Center to establish and set aside space for your group on the student organizations Web page drive. The Solution Center will contact your Web master when this has been completed.
Next, the Web master will need to locate the new Web space on the student organizations drive. This drive is labeled "student organizations on 'www4\webpage'," and it can be found under the 'My Computer' icon on the Web master's desktop. Your organization will have a folder on this drive, and the Web master will need to create an HTML file called 'index' in it. The 'index' file will be the organization's home page. Once 'index' is ready to be posted to the Web, your Web master will need to contact the Solutions Center again so that the link from the student organizations section of the Wittenberg Web site can be activated.
Student Involvement requests that you display the following information on your organization's home page: the contact information for your site's Web master, the date the page was last updated, and a link to the Wittenberg University home page. In addition, your group's site must comply with all Wittenberg Web page policies. Student Involvement recommends that you update your site at least once per semester, if not more often.
Whenever it becomes necessary to appoint a new Web master for your site, please contact Student Involvement so that the proper authorizations can be transferred.
The Emerging Leaders Program
An important aspect of developing your organization is the cultivation of its future leaders. Are there new students in your group with exceptional abilities and energy? Can you see leadership potential in them? If so, you may want to consider nominating these students for the Emerging Leaders Program, which takes place every fall semester at Wittenberg.
The Emerging Leaders Program is a five-week leadership development program that is designed specifically for first-year students who want to make a difference and distinguish themselves as leaders on campus. Its purpose is to help new students develop the skills, leadership, and knowledge they will need to be an effective leader both here on campus and after graduation. The Emerging Leaders Program is an opportunity for new students to get involved on campus, develop a better understanding of self, learn the value of diversity and community, and leave their marks on the university.
For more information about this program, please contact Student Invovlement.