Whether you are a newly elected member of a committee, are trying to revive an old geography society or set up a new one, this guide may be helpful. It draws on advice from representatives of geography societies across the country. The Society runs events to help geography society committee members network with other societies around the country - find out more about the geography societies conference and register your interest by contacting the Research and Higher Education Division.
The following tips for running a geography society have been compiled from advice from a number of society committees. These cover issues from fundraising, to sponsorship, to managing finances, to membership and marketing.
If you are setting up a geography society for the first time, think about how it will be run – many societies have found that charging a small fee for membership and then offering exclusive benefits and discounts has been an effective approach. Your student union will then help with the initial set up
Work together with your university’s geography department and careers service. They are a great resource for advertising, funding, finances, risk assessments (for events or trips), membership forms, advice, and information
Offer a range of social and academic events so that your members get the most out of the society. Career oriented events are often very popular.
Make sure you promote your society and its events well with good networking strategies - people have to be encouraged to attend the events and be active members of a society
It is important to have a good committee that is dedicated, works hard and communicates well. All the year groups should be represented so the committee can reach students throughout the department and respond to their needs
Geography societies usually need support to offer events and opportunities to their members.
Membership fees are a good source of funds, but don’t set them too high or it may prevent people from joining
Check if the geography department or the student union offer any grants to societies
Events and socials can be a source of funds, if they make a small profit – examples of fundraising activities include quizzes, parties, cake sales, selling society-branded clothes and running a pop-up coffee shop in the department
Many societies are sponsored by local companies or pubs – approach some to see if they are interested. If the company offers a service, like food or drink, you can offer to hold events or promote the company so they benefit too
Keeping track of all the finances is a key part of running a geography society
Check first what the previous geography society committee did and whether it worked for them
Some geography societies have to put all transactions through the student union
Alternatives can include opening a separate bank account with which to organise the society’s finances – you could try doing this either through the student union or your geography department
Your student union may be able to offer more advice on how to budget and manage your society’s finances
One of the most challenging aspects can be organising the membership - managing membership lists, events, trips or payments from members.
Some websites offer an online system that is specifically tailored to running groups
GroupSpaces is a good example – university geography societies are eligible for a free plan managing up to 2000 members, which should suit most societies
If you run any free events, you could use the free service offered by Eventbrite to record attendance and other requirements
Marketing is important to raise the profile of your society, recruit members, engage your membership and improve event attendance.
Most societies will have a stand at the freshers’ fair, but don’t forget to target late joiners. In addition your geography department may be able to help if they publicise the society in newsletters, emails, and freshers’ welcome letters
Social networking pages and websites can be a great place to advertise the society – many potential members will already have a Facebook page or Twitter account. Try to update these regularly to maintain interest in your society
It is important to advertise what the society has to offer, for example upcoming careers events, socials, field trips, subsidised events and other benefits students will receive upon joining
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