Assessing Where You Are
Do you have an existing club at your school that is floundering a bit due to low membership (because of club member graduations or other challenges)? Did your school have a club in previous years that you want to re-start? Your first step is to do an assessment to determine what resources you have (membership numbers, adult support, current or recent club accomplishments to build on, etc.) and what you need to do to build/rebuild in order to be successful going forward.
If your club has been dormant for very long, it is likely you will need to follow the steps for starting a new club (see “Getting Started Guide”) although you may be able to move more quickly or ambitiously than a brand new club depending on your capacity.
One important thing you will need to do is take a look at your club’s mission statement to make sure that it still reflects the purpose and goals of your club as it is operating right now.
Since each year brings club member graduations, recruitment is a focus for every club no matter what stage of development you are in.
Depending on your current membership size, your club may need an influx of general members, but you may also need to think about targeted recruitment. Part of this may be recruiting new leadership from within your existing team or new recruits. For example, do you have enough current members who are able to commit the time and energy to help make your planned projects successful, or is all the responsibility for most activities repeatedly falling on the shoulders of one or two people? The latter is not a sustainable model for club success. You may want to consider dividing responsibilities in a more equitable way by identifying a small group of “point people” in your club willing to be leaders who will delegate tasks and track progress.
It is also important to ask yourselves if your club membership is representative of your overall school population. Your efforts will have greater success in impacting your school culture if your membership truly reflects all parts of that culture. You may want to reach out to other clubs or groups that reflect that cultural diversity at your school for member recruitment and/or the possibility of pursuing joint projects where your interests cross over.
Identifying And Accessing Resources
Have your recent or past efforts been stymied by a lack of resources needed to complete your projects or meet your goals for your club/school? You may want to think about reaching outside of your school to identify additional sources of support. There are groups and organizations in your community that may either share your mission or have their own mission to support youth leadership efforts that may be a source of practical or in-kind resources, or even potential partnership.
Some community groups and foundations even offer small grants for student-led projects. You can find this information about groups in your community by exploring the Our Future website (see “Tools and Resources”) and by doing your own online research.
Continue To Recognize, Celebrate, And Evaluate
Just like recruitment, acknowledging everyone’s (students, adult allies, and community partners) contribution to the work of your club and celebrating your ongoing (even small) successes is vital to keeping everyone engaged in your work, no matter what stage of development your club is in! And it is also crucial to take the time to reflect on each activity of your club to determine what you want continue, build on or adjust in your efforts going forward.