Managing Your Members
Maintenance is an important function of a student organization and should not be overlooked. Day-to-day upkeep of an organization is the difference between a successful, motivated group and an organization struggling to exist. These are a few areas of maintenance that can make an organization successful.
Meetings, agendas, minutes, mailings, e-mail, feedback, and decision-making are all part of an organization’s communication.
Organizations should decide early in the semester how often they need to meet. Meeting times and locations should be kept consistent. The officers and/or committee chairpeople may find it helpful to establish a special executive board meeting time, usually a few days before the general membership meeting; this way upcoming topics can be discussed and the agenda can be set. Meetings should be held for both the executive board and general membership.
Agendas should be established and discussed among officers during the group’s executive board meetings. Included in the agenda should be all executive reports, information on current and upcoming projects, old and new business, announcements, and an important item that is sometimes overlooked on the agenda — a section that allows for reporting on correspondence. Agendas should be distributed to members before general meetings to increase participation and to keep members on task.
- Call to Order
- Roll Call
- Approval of Minutes
- Treasurer’s Report
- Officer Reports
- Committee Reports
- Unfinished Business
- New Business
Minutes should be recorded during general membership meetings. They should include responsibilities and decisions that were made during the meeting. In addition, it's very important that minutes be typed up and sent out or distributed to members promptly. Keep
in mind that minutes are an important way of reminding members and holding them responsible for their tasks.
One of the unique aspects of organizations are the traditions that have been passed down from years gone by. Members need to be aware of these traditions and work to keep them alive, as well as establish a few new ones of their own. Traditions can be anything from a special dinner to a full-fledged group reunion during homecoming week. It’s important to plan ahead for these activities because in the chaos of the busy school year, they can be lost and plans can be forgotten. Organizations may want to have an officer who is responsible for the group’s history. A “historian” could keep a scrap book of newspaper articles and snapshots of the group. They also may want to keep a list of addresses and phone numbers of past members in an official membership book. All of these traditions give the group a feeling of stability and heritage.
Another important group function is identification. Members take pride in their work and their volunteer efforts. That sense of ownership retains dedicated members. Ownership can be achieved through many identification techniques. Many groups have a design or logo made up for jackets, t-shirts, stationery, and other novelty items. This is a great way for members to feel a sense of belonging.
Switching gears from one year to the next can be difficult. Many times files and papers get lost or misplaced. Accounts very often go unattended and end up in a member’s name who has left the group. This makes it hard to get the ball rolling in the fall. Depending when elections take place, the current executive board needs to prepare for transition before the end of the school year. Files should be organized and stored. End-of-the-year thank-you’s should be attended to, a list of summer addresses and telephone numbers should be collected, and all accounts and budgets should be balanced and names should be switched over. Finally ideas for summer and fall recruitment should be discussed, and a plan should be developed before members leave for the summer. Transition is important and very often taken for granted or just simply forgotten. Many times groups realize that things weren’t wrapped up only after it’s too late. Plan ahead. The last few weeks are very hectic. Make arrangements early.
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