Please note: This is advice for Lancaster University Affiliated Societies.
Sport Lancaster Clubs should seek advice from the Sports Development Manager
Kate and Patrick
Students' Union Societies Support Team
Congratulations on being elected!
You've just joined a community of over 1,000 other students, all making Lancaster an interesting and exciting place to be a student!
You may feel a bit lost and confused, and you may have a million questions. That's OK! Hopefully, a few of your questions will be answered here.
If you've had a perfect handover, and are ready to go, then perhaps just cast your eye down this list to ensure that you know where to look for some of the vital information needed to run your society successfully.
The first thing to note is that the Students' Union is here to offer advice and support to enable your society to carry out the activities you enjoy most.
You are welcome to call in and see us at any point during your time as an Exec.
The Students' Union office is based at the University House end of the Learning Zone (near the Learning Zone toilets).
Every week day afternoon we hold drop in's, so you can just turn up in the office and ask to speak to someone. We also work during the holiday's, so we're here all year round to help.
You can also email us with questions (although you'll get a quicker reply of you come in to see us!)
Here is a quick guide to the tasks you need to complete as a new Exec:
1. Register the New Exec with the Students' Union
In order to ensure that you receive all the correct information and opportunities to get involved with uni life at Lancaster, we need to ensure that we have the correct contact details for your current exec.
You can complete this online form and it will send the information directly to us.
You will need to know the library card number, and contact details (including the @lancaster.ac.uk email address) for ALL the exec members.
2. Get the bank account transferred to the new exec!
Ensure this is done ASAP, before any of the old exec leave Lancaster.
It can be quite a long and laborious process, so start as early as you can!
Most bank accounts require at least two signatories. You can also have other people named on the account. All these people will need to provide photo ID and proof of address to the bank.
They will also be credit checked.
It may be worth discussing this straight after elections to ensure that everyone meets the criteria to hold a UK bank account. That way, any potential issues can be addressed as early as possible.
3. Familiarise yourself with your group area on lusu.co.uk (Union Cloud) and make the necessary updates
With over 9,000 memberships processed through the Students' Union website each year, this is a great way to recruit members and manage your society.
Every group manages their own pages on the website, so you control what people see about your group. You can also sell memberships and tickets with £0 card transaction fees. All events that you create and promote through the website also feed into iLancaster, giving your group even more visibility. You can link social media pages too.
4. Ensure the Exec have access to the group's @lancaster email account
Your society should have an email address registered already.
This is used to book space on campus, receive information from Students' Union and also be shared to give people an easy way to contact your group.
It's really straightforward to update the information, but you need to ensure that the Exec is listed on the "Committee" page of your group website.
Once this is correct, each individual Exec member just needs to take their library card to the ISS Service Desk in the Learning Zone, and ask to be put on the email account.
5. Ensure you all understand your individual roles and expectations within the group
This might sound obvious, but it's worth having a discussion at one of your first meetings to ensure that there is a true understanding of what your role involves. That way, if there is anything you were unaware of, or need support with, then you can discuss this with each other (or Students' Union) early on in your time in the role.
We'd also encourage you to discuss your motivations for wanting to be on the Exec, so you can get a better understanding of the group dynamic, right from the start.
6. Ensure the handover is completed with the past exec, and any important information is passed on
Each exec has a different handover experience. For some, they are passed valuable and useful information.... others receive virtually nothing!!
You may want to ask questions such as:
- What events they have committed to in the future?
- What is the current bank balance?
- What worked well last year?
- What do they wish they had done differently?
- What advice would they give you?!
7. Plan your activity
For a start, in order to plan your society finances, it's important to ensure you know what you're going to spend money on!
So, planning your activity can ensure that you charge the correct membership fees, allow your members to budget for trips, or even ensure that the space you need for activity is secured.
If you do need additional funding, it's important that you apply for this early in the year. You can apply up to a year ahead, and we can ensure that the cash is saved for you.
If you apply late, we may have run out of cash - remember there are over 200 other groups who can apply for this funding!
If you want to hold a big show, or event, then space can be difficult to find. By requesting the space early, then you have a significantly higher chance of securing the space. The later you leave this, the less likely it is that the space will be available.
If you want to invite a special guest or speaker to campus, you may need to ensure that they are booked well in advance. You may also have to book transport or hotels for them too....
Below is a full year plan, so as an exec you can use this as a template to plan your activity.
Start by penciling in the activity that you'd like to do. Once you've got the full year planned, you can then start to look at the logistics.
Once you've agreed on the completed activity plan, and all agreed on what your activities will, you can then start to think about the expenditure and income from each activity, and compile the annual budget.
8. Compile the budget
I've lost count of the number of groups who have miscalculated the cost of an event or activity, and found the society in significant financial difficulty.
As a consequence, it has added stress, upset and worry to this experience.
We fully appreciate that everyone has different experience, and knowledge, and we work with whatever knowledge you have!
If you're confused or worried about anything, then you must speak to us.
Using the completed activity plan, and membership numbers for last year, and target members for the coming year, you can start to put together the income and expenditure for the year.
You may have opportunities to gain some additional income, either through charging a little more for events, or membership, sponsorship, or even paid opportunities through Students' Union.
Hints and tips:
- Get at least three quotes for high expenditure
- Talk about how you're going to spend the money - can people claim it back from you? How will you agree the smaller items for expenditure?
- If you are required to sign any contracts, ask our Commercial Manager's advice! There may be some sneaky clauses in there!
- Do you need to reconsider the society membership fee?
- Is this a sustainable budget? Will it bring in enough cash?! Or do you need Students' Union funding?
- ASK FOR HELP!! If there is anything at all you're unsure of, or just want some advice, then come and see us!
- Just because something has been done one way in the past, it doesn't mean you HAVE to do it that way!
9. Ensure that the appropriate people have completed mandatory training
We run training sessions and workshops throughout the year. We'll email the society email address and you're personal email address, so you have the responsibility to check this.
At the moment the following sessions are mandatory:
- Health and Safety Duty of Care - Read this FAQ
- Flat floor briefing (for groups putting on large events and using rehearsal space on campus)
Failure to complete the training could result in your society being disaffiliated with Lancaster University and Students' Union.
10. Come into the Students' Union office and say Hi!
... or even better, invite us to join you at a session, so we can see what you do!
We really enjoy working with our student groups. Coming along to a session means we get to share what you enjoy and could help us to create even better opportunities for you in the future!
The dedicated Societies Support Team has over three decades of experience between us, and we like to think we've seen and heard it all before. We'll always try to do our best to help, or just listen.
We welcome feedback on what we can do to help too, so please do let us know how we need to improve.
We work full time, 52 weeks a year, so there should always be someone available to help.
There are also drop-in's every weekday afternoon during term time. Just come into the Students' Union office.
Network with other societies.
You're not competing, you're all student leaders, you're all colleagues. So, please collaborate, share ideas, and work together to continue making Lancaster an amazing place to be a student!
There is a dedicated Exec Facebook page, so please do join.