The President is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Club’s operations, and providing direction and guidance for the committee to carry out their roles successfully. They should have experience within the Club, a strong belief in the values and purpose of the Club and a vision to move it forward.
Whilst the Secretary, Treasurer, IT Officer and Webmaster have specific tasks related to their role, the responsibilities of a President are more general. These involve:
- Overseeing the smooth running of all Club activities
- Ensuring that your Club carries out its purpose in line with the constitution and regulations
- Delegating and managing key tasks or new projects for the maintenance or improvement of Club activities
- Chairing meetings
- Overseeing all committee decisions and communicating these to members
- Providing support, advice, and guidance to committee members to fulfil their responsibilities
- Representing the Club to the wider student body, the University and external organisations and communicating with key contacts
BEST PRACTICE GUIDE
Representing your Club
As the President, you will be a key representative and of your Club, to your members, the wider student body, the University and external organisations. When starting your role, you should introduce yourself to the Senior Member and any other key contacts, such as sponsors or charity partners. Try to ascertain from the previous President the nature of their relationship to ensure continuity.
Throughout your role, you could also explore new ways that your Club could establish new contacts and increase its impact for members and for the wider community. This could include collaborations (with other Clubs, colleges, universities or external charities and businesses) or events (member volunteering days; external speakers).
Overseeing Club Activities
The exact tasks of the President will vary significantly depending on the activities and operations of your Club. When planning an activity or event, you should consider all the tasks and people required to carry it out successfully, and delegate accordingly. You must also ensure that all Club activities are in line with University rules and regulations.
Given the various tasks and people you will be coordinating during your role, it is useful to write a plan for each term to ensure that you do not forget anything.
Working with Committee Members
It is your responsibility to provide direction and guidance for your committee members to carry out their responsibilities. It is important to find a balance between managing and improving your Club’s operations whilst avoiding putting too much pressure on yourself and the committee, who will likely be juggling several other commitments. You may want to consider having a Welfare Officer on your committee who is responsible for overseeing the welfare of the committee and members.
It is likely you were elected for the role of President because you showed a passion for the Club’s activities and purposes, and a vision for where you wanted to take the Club forward. Work with your own strengths and the skills and ideas of the rest of the committee to carry out this vision.
You have the right to attend all meetings of the Club and the committee. The quorum is the minimum number of attendees required to make the proceedings of the meeting valid. If you are absent or unable to take the chair, the committee can elect another member of the committee to chair the meeting. All matters discussed in meetings of the committee or members are determined by a majority of members present and voting. If votes are equal, the President has the casting vote.
How to chair a meeting
- Before you start, ensure that a quorum is present. The quorum is the minimum number of attendees required to make the proceedings of the meeting valid. For committee meetings, the quorum is 4. For the AGM, the quorum is 10 members present in person or by proxy, including at least 3 committee members. If financial business is to be transacted in any meeting, the Treasurer, or a committee member deputed by the Treasurer to represent their views, must attend. Where a member is deputed to represent the Treasurer, only financial business included in the agenda can be discussed.
- During the meeting, work through the items on the agenda, guiding the discussion and trying to stick to the timings. Ensure that everyone participates and has their opinion heard before decisions or votes. Try to highlight the things others may not want to mention or to ask the difficult questions. Before making a decision or voting, you could summarise all the points in favour and in disagreement.
- After the meeting, if you have discussed an event or project, you could make an action plan based on the minutes, to set manageable deadlines for each committee member and ensure the tasks discussed are completed. Examples of an action table can be found in some of the Word templates for meeting minutes. See the Secretary section on 'keeping minutes’ for how to access these.
The Oxford SU's Training Page offers a ‘chairing effective meetings training’ which can be accessed through your SSO.
Secretaries are essential in supporting and facilitating all Club activities, mainly through completing administrative tasks. These include:
- Being responsible for the discharge of the regulations, including the return of registration and re-registration forms and other information required by the Proctors and Assessor.
- Supporting the general running and activities of the Club, including administrative tasks.
- Sending emails and dealing with other correspondence to and from the Club. (according to your Club’s communication plan).
- Maintaining a register of Club members.
- Giving notice of all meetings and writing up the agendas and minutes for meetings.
- Notifying the Proctors of any changes in members of the committee.
- Taking responsibility for the operation and updating of a suitable club webpage displaying (at a minimum) current club contacts and the constitution (if you do not have an IT Officer/ Webmaster on your committee).
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Registering with the Clubs Office has various benefits, including use of the University’s name and coat of arms, access to IT facilities and financial support. As the Secretary, you will be responsible for submitting the registration form if you are not yet registered with the Clubs Office. New registrations can be sent at any time of year. The registration process will involve preparing key documents, including the standard constitution of the Club and code of conduct, and providing information about the nature of your club, your committee, and membership register.
All the steps you need to take to register your Club can be found on the prospective clubs pages.
As a registered Club, you must re-register with the Proctors every year, by Friday 2nd week of Michaelmas Term. This will be similar to the registration process and will require you to submit the Club’s key documents and updated committee information. Re-registration is essential if you wish to remain on the register of Clubs and continue receiving the benefits of registration, including IT Services. Further information about this process is available on the re-registration page.
In addition to the registration process, you must inform the Proctors of any changes in the Club’s committee members. If the Club ceases to operate or is to be dissolved, you also must inform the Proctors and present a final statement of accounts from the Treasurer.
Register of Club members
It is your responsibility to maintain a register of Club members. This is an up-to-date list of bona fide club members (i.e. those who have paid their subscriptions or who are otherwise confirmed as active members in accordance with the Club’s constitution). The Register will in most cases represent a definitive list of those eligible to stand in, and vote at, elections for Club Officers. Your membership register must therefore be distinguished from a mailing list of people who have expressed an interest in your Club’s activities but who have not signed up as a member. There must be a clear ‘application for’ and ‘confirmation of membership’ system.
There are several ways you could do this – see the questions and considerations below to help you.
- Will you create an automated membership register (i.e., applying for membership, paying subscriptions, and being added to the register is all on one automatic system, and members are automatically removed when their membership expires) or a manual one (e.g., people must email to collect membership, or the method of payment is separate to filling out a membership form)?
- Do members have to meet certain requirements to join or is your Club open to anyone?
- Will you charge membership fees? If so, how will you take payment?
- Do you have separate fees for a single term, annual and lifetime subscription?
- How will you manage membership confirmations?
- How will you keep the membership register in line with data protection procedures (see below)?
Activities such as keeping a membership register and mailing list require processing personal data. Personal data is any information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual, for example someone’s name, address, or photograph. You will therefore need to ensure that all Club records comply with the Data Protection Act 2018. The key features of this legislation and information about further resources are available on our Data protection page.
All key documents (the constitution, complaints procedure, code of conduct, risk assessments, registration confirmations, approved permissions and dispensations, by-laws, minutes) should be stored in a safe place that is accessible for the rest of the committee. You can do this using a shared OneDrive Business folder.
How to create a shared OneDrive Business folder
Creating a shared folder using third party cloud storage providers such as OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox is not considered to be the most secure option for storing confidential documents. OneDrive for Business is approved by the University’s Information Security team for storing and sharing confidential information (see this document on the Management and Protection of Data).
- Log in at https://office.com with your Oxford username followed by @OX.AC.UK. You will be redirected to the Oxford Single Sign-On login page. Login with your usual details.
- In the ‘Apps’ section (viewed either as icons down the left-hand side of your page, along the top of your screen, or by clicking on the 9 dots in the top left of your page), follow the link to OneDrive (blue cloud icon).
- You should be taken to a page called ‘My files’. Along the top bar, click the drop-down menu titled ‘New’ (in a blue box) and select ‘Folder’.
- Enter the name for the folder. E.g., ‘OU … Club 2021-22 Committee’.
- The folder should now appear under ‘My files’. To make this a shared folder, hover over the folder, click on the three dots, then select ‘Manage access’. Click on the ‘+’ icon next to ‘direct access’ and enter the email addresses of the rest of the committee.
- The other committee members should receive an email granting access to the folder. You will now be able to add and upload documents, which can be shared and edited by the rest of the committee.
Meeting Notices, Agendas, and Minutes
For all meetings, you must a) give notice of the meeting; b) draw up an agenda and send it to the relevant people in advance; and c) keep minutes and send these to the relevant people, including members, on request.
Giving notice of a meeting is simply informing potential attendees of the date, time, and location of the meeting a reasonable time in advance. When you send out the notice, you can ask that attendees send you items to add to the agenda.
Writing an agenda
Word has some useful templates for writing agendas. You can access Word through your Office365 access provided by the University. As with creating a OneDrive Business folder (see steps above), you will need to log in at https://office.com with your SSO details. Click on the ‘Word’ icon (viewed either as icons down the left-hand side of your page, along the top of your screen, or by clicking on the 9 dots in the top left of your page). Along the top of your page should be a selection of templates (you may need to select ‘Show templates’ at the top right). Follow the arrow to ‘More templates’ then scroll down and select ‘Explore all templates’. Along the left you can ‘Browse by category’, where there is a section for ‘Agendas’.
The main things to include are:
- The date and proposed length of the meeting, the order and timing of each point, and who is to introduce each item
- Anything to report back on, or discuss again, since the last meeting
- All items sent to you by attendees (usually the committee) and any you wish to add
- Decide whether each item is for providing information, for discussion, or requiring a decision
- ‘Any Other Business’ can be added at the end of the agenda for attendees to raise issues that are not already on the agenda
- The date of the next meeting, if this has been decided
Word also has various templates for meeting minutes. Follow the steps under the ‘writing an agenda’ section to find these templates. When you get to the ‘Browse by category’ you may need to scroll down and select ‘More’ to find the minutes section. Some of these templates provide a table of action items at the bottom, which can be useful to ensure that tasks discussed in committee meetings are actually carried out.
As each item on the agenda is discussed, take brief notes on the points raised, decisions made, and any action tasks allocated to committee members. You do not need to write down everything that is said word-for-word. Afterwards, you can go back and clear up your notes so that they could be understood by anyone who was unable to attend. For committee meetings, add the minutes to your shared OneDrive folder for the rest of the committee to refer to.
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
As with all meetings, you are responsible for giving notice, writing the agenda, and keeping minutes for the AGM. The AGM is in Hilary Term and is open for all members of the Club. You must give at least 14 days’ notice. The agenda for the AGM should include presentation of the annual report, accounts, and compliance report; committee elections; and any motions which have been sent to you in advance.
Following the election of a new committee at the AGM, all current committee members must send you a handover document relating to their role, to pass on to their successor. This should include all documents, resources, and accounts that they used or created; details on any ongoing or planned projects; and any tips and advice.
If you are handing over access to your entire OneDrive folder, make sure that you are not violating data protection law. Ensure that account passwords are transferred securely and changed immediately by the new committee.
When you are clearing out your SharePoint site, before deleting records, you should consider whether they should be transferred to the University Archives. With administrative records of the University dating from 1214, the University Archives provides a permanent home for records of the University’s organisation and governance; its key functions and activities; and major developments and achievements. Access to the Archives can be granted, subject to certain restrictions, to historians and other academics.
The Archives are intended to build up a comprehensive but compact picture of the University over time, and includes information about student societies. All the information you need, including the Selection Policy, can be found on the University Archives website. To discuss transferring records, or if you are in any doubt about the value of the records you have, contact the University Archives for further advice.
If you do not have an IT Officer and Webmaster on your committee, it may be your responsibility to update the website with the relevant information. This includes contact details of the committee and your constitution. You should discuss who is responsible for maintaining the website when deciding your Club’s communication plan. See the IT Officer and Webmaster section for further guidance on websites.
The Treasurer is responsible for everything related to the Club’s finances, including the Club’s accounts, insurance, income, and expenditure. This involves keeping accurate and updated accounts, drafting budgets, and finding sponsors. If the Club is disbanded, the treasurer must submit to the Senior Member and to the Proctors a full statement of the Club’s accounts.
- Keeping proper records of the Club’s financial transactions in accordance with current accepted accounting rules and practices.
- Developing and implementing control procedures to minimise the risk of financial exposure, which can be reviewed with the University’s Internal Audit Section. Ensure that bills are paid, and cash is banked, in accordance with these procedures.
- Managing the Club’s expenditure: includes preparing an annual budget for the Club and keeping the committee informed of progress against this budget; writing individual event/ project budgets.
- Managing the Club’s income: includes applying for grants; finding sponsors or partners; fundraising; receiving membership subscriptions.
- Maintaining an inventory of the Club property.
- Presenting all records, procedures, and accounts to the Senior Member, the Proctors on request.
- Checking that the Club’s bank accounts are secure and suitable for the purpose of the Club.
- Ensuring that you have the correct insurance cover: including keeping an equipment inventory so that your Club’s equipment can be covered by University insurance.
- If applicable, ensuring that all statutory returns are made including VAT, income tax and corporation tax.
- If applicable, submitting the Club’s accounts for independent professional inspection.
BEST PRACTICE GUIDE
As a treasurer you should be aware of the following regulations from the constitution, just in case they could apply to your Club:
- No Committee or Club member can enter an arrangement, contract, or transaction on behalf of the Club that exceeds £1,000, unless this has been approved in a committee meeting.
- If the Club has a turnover of > £25,000 in the preceding year or is confidently expected to reach this within the current year, you must submit the accounts (in a format prescribed by the Proctors) for independent professional inspection and report by a reporting accountant approved in advance by the Proctors. Accounts are to be ready for inspection within four months of the end of the Club’s financial year and the costs of the inspection and report shall be borne by the Club. If requested by the reporting accountant, the Club shall submit accounts and related material as a basis for a review of accounting procedures, the cost likewise to be borne by the Club.
- Ensure that all statuary returns are made, including VAT, income tax and corporation tax
- Income tax and corporation tax are almost never applicable to student clubs and societies.
- Clubs are considered as individual entities for VAT purposes, meaning that they are not covered by the University’s VAT registration. Check the gov.uk VAT registration page for details on whether you need to register for VAT (the current threshold is an annual turnover exceeding £85,000). Given that your Club’s income is unlikely to exceed this threshold, you do not need to charge VAT on your subscription fees, ticket sales, etc. However, note that you will not be exempt from paying the usual VAT on goods and services that you buy.
- You can seek some advice on tax matters from the University Finance Division, but it is your responsibility to research and manage your taxes if you are required to pay them.
Club’s Financial Records
You must keep proper records of the Club’s financial transactions, which includes the date, description, receipt, and amount for all income and expenditure. You can download and use the Specimen Accounts document to help you. During the first year of registration, Clubs may be required to submit termly accounts. It is good practice to review your accounts at each committee meeting and update the Officers on progress against the annual budget.
At the end of week 9 in Trinity Term every year, you must forward a copy of your annual accounts for the financial year to which they relate to the Proctors. These must be signed by the Senior Member. You will also need to present the annual accounts at the AGM in each Hilary Term.
At the end of your term in Office, ensure that your accounts are accurate and updated, and that you hand them over to your successor.
Managing money efficiently and securely involves planning the Club’s budgets and procedures to minimise risk, as well as selecting and managing an appropriate bank account.
You are responsible for preparing an annual budget and regularly updating the committee on progress against the budget. You could also create budgets for individual projects or events that may require several transactions.
The Club’s bank account must be held in the Club’s name, not the name of any individual. An account must have a minimum of two signatories, who must be current committee members (usually the President and the Secretary). This means that writing a cheque or withdrawing money requires the signature or approval from two committee members, which ensures that money is handled in a manner agreed by the whole committee, and not just the Treasurer. At the end of your term in office, you must hand over full authority to the Club’s bank account(s) and ensure that signatories are changed.
Different banks will have different steps you have to follow before opening an account. If you choose a community bank account, you may be required to provide certain documents, for example your constitution or meeting minutes. Signatories will usually be required to go into a bank branch with proof of identity and proof of address.
The Clubs Office does not endorse any specific service providers. If you are a new society, or wish to change your bank account, there are various things to consider before opening an account. One of these is whether to choose a high street bank branch (e.g., Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC) or a digital bank (e.g., Starling, Monzo, Revolut). You can read about the pros and cons of each on Money Guru's page on 'High street vs digital banking'. Most high street banks offer community bank accounts which you may be eligible for. A breakdown of the provisions of various community banks is provided in Business Financing’s list of the Top 20 Community Bank Accounts For UK Charities. If you decide to go for a digital bank, have a look at the list of The Top 10 Best Digital Banks by Compare Banks.
A Club’s income can come from various channels, including subscription fees, sponsorship, and grants. As the Treasurer you should assess how much money the Club needs to carry out its purpose (based on your budget) and raise money accordingly.
When seeking or agreeing to sponsorship from external parties the Clubs should consider that any form of sponsorship or funding:
- Does not impinge on the club’s freedom to conduct its activities as set out in the constitution, or create potential conflict of interest (that cannot be disclosed or appropriately managed), or otherwise harm the reputation of the collegiate University.
- Does not originates from or is associated with illegal or unethical activity, such as where the funding is believed to be a result of criminal activity, is linked to money laundering activity;
- Is not suspected to be associated with terrorist financing activity.
- The conditions attached to funding would not require or incite the club to act illegally of unethically in any way.
The guidance below provides information on managing grants, sponsorship, and subscriptions. The University Development Office is able to facilitate donations for registered clubs.
Club Office Grant
Every term, the Clubs Committee meets to decide on the provision of small grants to registered Clubs to support their activities. Information about the type of grants available, eligibility and the application process is available on the Club grants page.
Depending on the activities and aims of your organisation, you may be able to apply for external sources of funding. This will require some research, to find the grants which you are eligible to apply for. Key questions to think about whilst researching grants include:
- Do you have a specific project in mind that you require funding for? How can you give evidence that this will significantly benefit your members or improve your ability to carry out your Club’s aims?
- How much money do you need and how exactly will the grant be spent?
- Do you want to apply to local, regional, national, or international grant bodies? Consider how competitive the grant scheme will be and whether it is worth your time to apply for it
- As well as general grant providers (see below), are there organisations that allocate grants specifically centred around the activities and purpose of your Club?
Below are some general sources to get you started:
- Oxford City Council’s list of External Funding Opportunities
- Oxfordshire County Council’s Funding for community groups page
- Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action’s list of Funding sources
- The National Lottery Community Fund
- The ‘Funding Categories’ section of the Grants Online website
- Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s Grants page
Writing a Grant Application
The grant application process will vary depending on the organisation you are applying to, and there are several online guides to help you with this. In general, the most important things to consider are:
- Make sure to research the funding organisation in detail – including the projects they have funded before and how much money was allocated, whether they publish any grant-writing tips for their organisation, and checking that you are definitely eligible.
- Have all the necessary documents updated and ready – this may include accounts, the constitution, other policy documents, details on the management of the Club, and committee information. You are trying to show the grant provider that you are a trustworthy organisation that will use their money effectively, so try to make sure everything is as organised as possible.
- Clearly set out the details of the project you require funding for – including who, what, where, when, and how; and the impact the project will have.
Whilst applying for grants, and other forms of fundraising, are generally a one-way process (i.e., funding is provided to the Club and is unlikely to directly benefit the funder), sponsorship tends to benefit both the Club and the sponsor. The Club could receive funding, equipment, resources, or venue hire, whilst the sponsor will gain access to a valuable student market and improve their reputation. There are several stages to securing a sponsor, as outlined below.
How to secure a sponsor
Step 1: Research
- Compile a list of potential sponsors. This could include past supporters; companies with a personal connection to a Club member; companies with a vested interest in your Club’s purpose and activities; any other individual or company who is closely associated with the University or who would have an interest in connecting with the student body
- Find out the goals and business targets of the company, so that you can tailor your proposal around how you can help them achieve their goals. Try to find out when the company plans their budget, as you may be more likely to receive sponsorship if you ask the company around this time, so that they can factor you in to their future plans.
Step 2: Planning your proposal
What you are asking for?
Make sure you are being realistic and reasonable: remember that sponsorship should benefit both parties relatively equally. You do not want to ask for a huge sum of money from a small company, but you also should not offer too much from your Club if it will not yield a worthwhile benefit in return. As with writing grant applications, be clear on exactly what you need the money for, how it will be used, and the impact it will have.
What you can offer to the potential sponsor?
- Positive exposure to students and access to a student market
- Promoting the sponsor on your content (event tickets, posters, website, social media)
- Attendance of/ participation in your events
- The opportunity to collect feedback about their brand/ products
- Running Club events at their venue and publicising them
- Potential future employees
Provide both quantitative and qualitative information to sell yourself to a potential sponsor. Quantitative information could include the number of members you have, number of website visits or social media likes, how many competitions you have won, how many people have attended your events etc.
Once you have considered these two aspects, you can write a sponsorship proposal. This should include:
- Why the company should sponsor you – include details of your past successes; how you benefit members/ wider community; and what you can offer them
- What you hope to achieve with their money and exactly how it will be spent
- How you fit in with their business objectives and how both you and the companies’ business objectives will be achieved
- Contact information
Step 3: Asking for sponsorship
Depending on the type of organisation you are contacting, you may choose to start the initial conversation via phone call or email.
Phone call: find the companies’ contact information online and try to work out which number you want to ring. If you call the reception, you could ask if they can put you through to the appropriate person. Once connected with the right person, you can briefly introduce yourself, outline why you are calling, and ask them what the best way is to discuss your proposal (e.g. schedule a phone call, face-to-face meeting, or email). Make sure to note down the details of all correspondence between yourself and the company (e.g., the names of people you speak to) to avoid confusion.
Email: introduce yourself and the Club, outline why you are writing, give a very brief summary of your proposal and mention that you have attached the sponsorship proposal to the email. Make it clear that you would be excited to work with them and that you would love to continue the discussion (via email/ meeting/ phone call) if they are interested.
If your proposal is rejected, don’t be disheartened. It can be useful to ask for feedback regarding your proposal or approach, to help you next time. If you still need the funding, go back to your list of potential sponsors and try someone new.
Step 4: Closing the deal
If a sponsor agrees to your proposal, it is important to write a contract to ensure that both parties are clear on what they are agreeing to. Your sponsorship contract should include:
- The project title or names of the Club and sponsor
- Relevant dates (e.g. start/ finish or event dates)
- Financial terms – the amount, date payable and VAT inclusions/ exclusions
- What the Club will do for their sponsor and what the company will do for the Club
- Signatures and dates of you and the sponsor
Step 5: Maintaining a relationship
Maintaining communication with your sponsor increases the likelihood of building a long-term relationship and receiving further support from them in the future. Some ways you can do this include:
- Sending a thank-you email or card summarising the positive outcomes of the project and expressing your interest in working with them again
- Inviting sponsors to attend your events
- Keeping them up to date with your activities and successes
- Showing examples of you following the terms of the contract (e.g. branded tickets and posters)
- Arranging a mid-contract meeting (if they would like one) to receive feedback and discuss the ways you could continue to work together
Depending on the size of your Club and the cost of membership, subscription fees could constitute a significant part of your Club’s income. You should assess whether your subscription fees are realistic – both to fund the activities of your Club and ensure its financial sustainability, and for students to afford. You want to find a balance between your Club having enough money and being accessible for all students. Having a process in place for students who cannot pay their subscription fees could help with this.
Refer to the ‘Membership’ section in the general guidance for more details.
A registered club must have a dedicated website or a social media site which should be used to promote not only its activities and events but also information about the Club's and the members' responsibilities arising from formal affiliation with the University.
Registered clubs are eligible to use the University IT facilities. This provides access to a central email address, mailing list, and a web page. You must be registered with the Clubs Office before you contact IT Services to inquire about IT facilities for your Club. Any problems or queries relating to IT Services must be communicated through the IT Service Desk, not the Clubs Office.
The IT Officer is responsible for communicating with IT Services about the Club’s use of IT facilities, including the Club's email account(s) and website. This includes annual re-registration with IT Services, requesting a delegated access to the facilities for additional users if they require access, and requesting a website from Oxford Mosaic. The IT Officer will be given primary access to the Single Sign-On account. Note that is still useful to appoint an IT Officer, or a similar role, to manage your Club’s website and social media, even if you are not registered for IT Services.
Registration with IT Services
You are responsible for (re)registering with IT Services every year. This is usually in Michaelmas term, once the Secretary has received confirmation of registration with the Proctors. A step-by-step summary of the process is detailed on the IT Help Page.
It is possible to register other committee members as ‘additional users’ of IT facilities, which will grant them access to the Club’s accounts. Additional users must be properly registered – see the ‘Additional users’ section under ‘IT Services registration’ on the IT Help page.
At the end of your term in office, you must pass on all records related to registration for, and use of, IT Services to your successor.
The IT Officer and Webmaster roles can be held by the same person, if appropriate for your Club. If you appoint a separate IT Officer and Webmaster, it is advisable that they begin their role during different times of the year, to reduce potential difficulties with continuity.
The Webmaster is responsible for creating and managing content on the Club’s website and/or social media accounts. Take care when using photos or other material from other websites. Permission should always be sought from the owner to avoid copyright infringement, which can be costly. Clubs are wholly responsible for complying with copyright law and for any repercussions that may flow from non-compliance.
Information and support about how a new website is available via Oxford Mosaic.
The IT Officer and the Webmaster must ensure that their Club's use of IT services follows the University rules and guidelines on web and social media, including:
- University IT Regulations
- IT Services mailing list guidelines
- Rules for Oxford University Websites
- Data Protection
- University Social Media Guidance
BEST PRACTICE GUIDE
Brand and Design
Establishing a recognisable brand for your Club through your website and social media can be an effective way of engaging existing members and recruiting new members. Training courses on social media, websites and using different design software can be accessed on the IT training page. The Oxford SU's Training Page offers training on Adobe Indesign, trigger warnings and Canva, which can be accessed through your SSO.
- Do you have a logo? Does it represent the purpose of your Club? Remember that you can only use the University Arms if you have special permission from the Vice-Chancellor.
- Do you have a consistent colour scheme or fonts for your website and social media content? Applications such as Canva can be very useful for ensuring that your content is consistent (see their colour palette tool).
- Who will manage the different channels? Will you appoint an additional committee role as a social media/ publicity officer or divide responsibility between the Officers?
- What social media sites and features (Facebook- group or page; Instagram- posts, stories, reels; Twitter; TikTok; LinkedIn) do you use? Do you want to create accounts on any new social media platforms to reach new members? Which of your accounts require development?
- How can you use social media best to engage your members? What content will you post and how often?
- Features such as Instagram polls or Facebook events, which require your followers to respond, can be useful to gauge feedback on members’ opinions on something or how many attendees you can expect for an event you are hosting.
- It might be useful to create a social media schedule for each platform that you use, depending on the engagement you receive on each. Do you want to use social media for regular updates and your mailing list for big announcements, or the other way round? Will you post information only related to your Club or do you want to share content related to other Clubs or events happening outside of the University? This can be a good opportunity to work with other similar Clubs such as sharing each other’s material, if you feel that your members would be interested.
Safety and Accessibility
- How can you ensure that your social media sites and website follow University guidelines and are a safe and accessible space for your members and others?
- Do posts on your Facebook group require approval first? Can anyone join your Facebook group, or do they have to answer certain questions first? Does your Facebook group have Group Rules to set out what you expect of your members when using social media?
- How can you ensure that your social media content is accessible? For example, using image captions and simple text (see Hootsuite’s 9 inclusive design tips for social media managers).
- Make sure to change account passwords (or change ‘admin’ roles on Facebook) once the previous committee has handed over to you, and to ensure that only current members of the committee know the new passwords.
The role of a society’s Senior Member is to act as an intermediary between a society and the university. This might involve representing the society to the Proctors, ensuring that the society’s accounts are in order, and resolving disputes between a society’s members. As a member of the Congregation, and with a tenure of up to five years, a Senior Member can bring experience and institutional memory to a society, serving as a member of the society’s committee to ensure that the correct decisions are made for the society.
Role and Responsibilities
Officially, as set out in the standard constitution for non-sports clubs, the responsibilities of a Senior Member are to:
- keep abreast of the actions and activities of the Club;
- provide information relating to the Club to the Proctors on request;
- seek to settle any preliminary disputes between the Committee and the members;
- following paragraph 22(i) [of the standard constitution], consider whether the accounts of the Club are in order and, if so, sign them;
- ensure that adequate advice and assistance is available to the Secretary and the Treasurer in the performance of their responsibilities under paragraphs 21 and 22 [of the standard constitution]; and
- be available to represent and speak for the Club in the public forum, and before the University authorities.
As a member of the society’s committee, the Senior Member is also responsible for the actions of the society. While the full extent of a Senior Member’s involvement may differ between societies, they have voting rights at committee meetings, which they can exercise if they choose to do so. This means that the Senior Member can function as a form of institutional memory for a society, offering justifications for past decisions so that societies can learn from themselves despite other committee members graduating and leaving the society.
The standard constitution also requires that Senior Members assist the club’s Secretary and Treasurer with their constitutional duties. The help which Senior Members offer to the Secretary and Treasurer will vary depending on the specifics of the club and its organisation, but in many cases the Senior Member would be asked for advice from these office holders about how to fulfil their responsibilities. For the Secretary, these responsibilities include maintaining a register of the club’s members, drawing up an agenda and minutes of general and committee meetings, and notifying the Proctors of any changes to the club’s Officers. While the Senior Member is not expected to undertake a burden of administrative work, they should be available to advise the Secretary about best practice. The Senior Member’s role in providing institutional memory may also be useful here: they might be able to access previous meeting minutes to inform the agenda and discussions at committee and general meetings.
The Treasurer may also request help from the Senior Member with their constitutional duties – which include keeping financial records, a budget, and financial exposure control procedures, as well as ensuring statutory returns are made. The Senior Member also carries formal responsibility for working with the Treasurer to ensure that the club’s accounts are in order. By the end of 9th week of Trinity Term each year, the Treasurer must send the club’s accounts to the Proctors, and these must have been signed by the Senior Member. A specimen of the format of accounts is available on the University website. The Senior Member should ensure that the accounts are in good shape, and that all forms of income and expenditure are legitimate and accounted for. This should mean that the society is both spending money in a sustainable way and earning money through acceptable sources. Furthermore, the Senior Member should ensure that the accounts add up, and that they are satisfied with the areas of expenditure which are included.
Since the Senior Member’s term is limited to five years, they should ensure that a replacement is found for them when they are nearing their term limit, as it is possible that the remainder of the committee would not know when this is. If possible, and in agreement with the rest of the club’s committee, they should organise a handover with their successor, to make sure that knowledge is passed down, furthering their role in maintaining institutional memory. If a club is unable to find a new Senior Member when the previous Senior Member’s term expires, they may in exceptional circumstances apply to the Proctors for the term limit to be waived, so that the Senior Member may remain in their position until a replacement can be found.
As a member of the Congregation, the Senior Member is connected to the University itself. This means that they may act as a liaison between the society and the University’s leadership. Ideally – and indeed in practice – this responsibility need rarely be acted upon, for most societies are excellent at operating without significant Proctorial intervention. However, there may be occasions in which the Proctors might be forced to intervene or enquire about the operations of the club, and in these circumstances the Senior Member will act as a go-between for the society. This might involve providing information about the club to the Proctors upon request and explaining and advocating for the society’s decisions to the relevant University authority. This latter requirement goes in tandem with the Senior Member’s responsibility to represent the club in a public forum: in most of these cases, this would involve providing statements to the media on behalf of the club, in partnership with the remainder of the committee. This is, however, rarely required, and further practical guidance would be available from the Proctors in such a situation.
Which are the key University policies that clubs must specifically follow?
- Equality – Ensures that no member of the University is discriminated against on the basis of their protected characteristics
- Freedom of speech – Requires that free expression be upheld in line with the law
- Safeguarding – Protects children and vulnerable adults during club activities
- Harassment – Aims to take proactive steps to stop and punish harassment
Summary of the Senior Member's Responsibilities
The Senior Member acts as a liaison between the club and the University, providing information to the Proctors and representing the club to the University.
In the event of a dispute within a Club which cannot be settled amicably, the Senior Member should attempt to resolve disputes before recourse to the Proctors. (Further guidance can be obtained from the Clubs Office.)
The Senior Member may also take a responsibility for following University policies, including the harassment procedure if the need arises.
With a maximum term of five years, the Senior Member can provide institutional memory for the club.
Overview of University Policies
The fact that Senior Members are members of a club’s committee means that they, together with the other committee members, are responsible for the following of the University’s regulations for clubs. Notably, the club must follow the University’s policies on equality, freedom of speech, safeguarding, and harassment. The University’s equality policy stresses the importance of “an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected.” This means that “no member of [the University] community [may be] unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, or sexual orientation” – these are all protected characteristics. All staff and students, and certainly those who are involved in the operation of a club, thus have a duty to “treat others with dignity and respect” and to “respect the University’s commitment to promote good relations, advance equality of opportunity and eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment."
University Policy on Freedom of Speech
The University’s policy statement on freedom of speech must also be followed by societies. The statement emphasises the importance of free expression at the University, both as “the lifeblood of a university” facilitating knowledge, truth, and humility, and as a key value enshrined in the law. Societies have a duty under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to take “reasonably practicable” steps to ensure that free speech is maintained at the University, meaning that except for in a limited range of scenarios, speakers must not be barred from speaking due to their views. A fuller explanation of how societies can preserve free and productive debate can be found in the Freedom of Expression guide.
University Policy on Harassment
This is particularly pertinent for Senior Members, as their responsibilities both in acting as a liaison between Proctors and students and in resolving any preliminary disputes between members of the club will likely interact with the University’s harassment procedure. The University’s policy “make[s] it clear that harassment is unacceptable and that all members of the University have a role to play in creating an environment free from harassment.” It gives club committee members, due to their position of power, a formal responsibility to take proactive steps to prevent harassment, which can occur through “violating another person’s dignity” or “creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for another person.” Examples of harassment which may be particularly noticeable in the context of a society include offensive comments on the basis of protected characteristics, constant criticism, persistently overloading an individual with work, unwanted sexual advances, and causing an individual to be isolated from social events.
If a person alleges that they have been harassed by another student at the University, then they may in the first instance write to the alleged harasser to explain that they are unhappy with their behaviour. They may also contact the Harassment Advisory Service or the Student Welfare and Support Services for further guidance. If this is unsuccessful or inappropriate for the specific situation, the student should make a formal written Report to the Proctors. This Report may be written in conjunction with the Oxford SU Advice Service, who can ensure that the Report contains all necessary information. Senior Members – and indeed all club committee members – should familiarise themselves with the full Harassment Policy and Procedure, which may also be found in the form of a flowchart.
The Senior Member is also responsible for ensuring the welfare of those who have been affected by harassment. The Senior Member’s role in such a situation will often be one of signposting, whether this be to people within the club or within the University’s infrastructure. If the society has a Welfare Officer on their committee, it can be worth referring anyone affected – with their consent – to them for welfare support, particularly if the Welfare Officer is a Peer Supporter or has undertaken similar training. A comprehensive guide to welfare support is available on the University’s website, with full contact details for welfare assistance. If a Senior Member has concerns about a student, they can contact the student’s college welfare team, who have been trained to deal with welfare issues in a confidential and professional way. For further advice, Senior Members can contact Student Welfare and Support Services, who are able to provide assistance with dealing with welfare matters.
Student Resolution Service
When students are in conflict about matters related to a society, it may be helpful for Senior Members to point them to the Student Resolution Service. This is a free service in which both parties would opt-in to resolution being provided so that issues can be agreed upon and compromises made. Provided that both students have consented to this, a Senior Member may either refer them to the service themselves or advise the students to reach out for assistance from the service.
When working with children and ‘at risk’ or vulnerable adults, societies must also ensure that they follow the University’s safeguarding policy. This policy stipulates that “any member of the University who has responsibility for organising an activity involving adults at risk or children must nominate an individual to act as the Designated Safeguarding Lead for the activity.” Furthermore, these activities should “be designed so that appropriate training and supervision is available to those working with adults at risk or children, minimise occasions on which members of the University will need to work alone in an unsupervised way with adults at risk or children, [and] be appropriately risk assessed.” Lastly, “any member of the University who will be planning activities with children should have completed the e-learning 'Introduction to Safeguarding' training” at a minimum.
Many societies may find it useful to include a Welfare Officer on their committee. While not mandated by University regulations, such a position can be beneficial for larger clubs who organise regular activities for their members. The role of a Welfare Officer would involve providing welfare support to the club’s members, such as by acting as a friendly face at club events and by signposting members to assistance within the University when necessary.
Although this position may not be appropriate for smaller clubs with intermittent or infrequent events, for many larger societies – and particularly those which are based on faith, political beliefs or culture – the society is a large part of many students’ experience at Oxford. This means that for many students a large part of their support network will revolve around the club and that welfare issues may arise at club events. As such, many societies may wish to consider introducing this role in order to provide support for their members.
Given that the role of a Welfare Officer is not mandated in the University’s regulations, it is clear that societies may wish to tailor the officer’s responsibilities according to their own needs. For example, a club whose events are entirely virtual may not need to include attendance at events as a central part of the role. Despite this, many of the Welfare Officer’s responsibilities will be similar across societies, as can be seen in the material below.
One important duty of a Welfare Officer is to listen to members of their society. While they need not be extremely extroverted, it can make a big difference to the society if there is a clear friendly face at their events who is open, welcoming, and approachable. This can really help members of the society, particularly those who are new and may not know many people. A society member may approach the Welfare Officer just for a chat or to raise a concern. It is important that the Welfare Officer is an active listener, understanding the concerns and – if they feel comfortable doing so – giving some advice in how to overcome the issue, or feeding back to the rest of committee if this is relevant and the society member has given their permission. It may also be useful for societies to set up a dedicated inbox for welfare concerns so that welfare support can be sought outside of events without the Welfare Officer being sent these messages to their personal email.
Does a Welfare Officer need a special training?
It is not necessary for a Welfare Officer to have undergone formal training before taking up their role; so long as they are friendly, approachable, and happy to help then they will be able to benefit the society through their work. It may, however, be useful for a Welfare Officer to be a student who has completed Peer Support training through their college, department, or division. This training equips students with skills such as crisis management, active listening, communication, and diversity awareness. These are all skills which are helpful – albeit not essential – for a Welfare Officer to have been formally trained in, so that they can navigate situations which arise as a result of their role in the society.
Welfare and Wellbeing
There are a number of services that offer support to student. Full information about possible places is available in the Welfare and Wellbeing section of the Oxford Students website. Every college has a welfare team, which provides support to students including signposting to specialist services when necessary. If a student requires regular or complex help, a Welfare Officer should advise them about support service provided by the University Counselling Service, who will be able to work through issues with the student on a regular basis. The Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service can assist students who have been a survivor of an incident of sexual harassment and violence. They are available to listen to the student and offer practical help with the aftermath of the incident. As trained professionals in their fields, each of these services will be able to offer a student more detailed and tailored help than a Welfare Officer would, so it is important that Welfare Officers understand the availability of these services and are able to signpost students to them when required.
A Welfare Officer may also be required to assist students who have been victims of harassment. The University’s full Harassment Policy is available on their website, which includes detailed examples of harassment and the University’s procedure for when it occurs. Students may also contact the Harassment Advisory Service or the Student Welfare and Support Services for further guidance. Harassment occurs when one person “violates another person’s dignity” or “creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for another person.” This includes cases of unwanted sexual advances, as well as offensive comments on the basis of a person’s protected characteristics, such as their race, religion, or sexual orientation. If a member of a club has been a victim of harassment, then if appropriate they may write a letter to the alleged harasser to explain why they are unhappy with their behaviour. If this is unsuccessful or inappropriate, the student should make a formal written Report to the Proctors. This Report may be written in conjunction with the Oxford SU Advice Service, who can ensure that the Report contains all necessary information. The full Harassment Policy and Procedure, which may also be found in the form of a flowchart, is available on the University’s website.
Another role which may be assigned to a Welfare Officer is of ensuring diversity and accessibility at the society’s events. This is important because it makes sure that, where relevant, all events can be attended by anyone regardless of their race, religion, gender, or disability. Furthermore, the University’s equality policy – which all societies must follow – stresses the importance of “an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected.”
This means that “no member of [the University] community [may be] unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of [their protected characteristics.]” If a club assigns this responsibility to a Welfare Officer, they must make an active effort to ensure that events are accessible to all. A large part of this will include ensuring that events are as accessible to disabled people as possible. This can be achieved by trying to make sure that access needs – such as step-free access, seating, hearing loops, and quiet spaces – are provided for. Even if this is not possible, it is important to provide accessibility notes when advertising events, so that disabled people can make informed decisions about whether they will be able to access events.
Further guidelines are available on Oxford SU’s ‘Disability 101’ training resource, which includes a document of guidelines for running accessible events. Diversity and accessibility at events may also be furthered by ensuring that discriminatory views voiced by members of the society are actively challenged. This might include workshops on anti-racism and anti-sexism for the society, as well as training on being a responsible bystander.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Which responsibilities might a club assign to a Welfare Officer?
- Attending society events and being a friendly and accessible face if anyone wants to chat or raise a concern.
- Giving advice to club members and signposting them to external resources and services as appropriate.
- Ensuring that the club is a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible space for all.
Which training, skills, and qualities can be helpful for a Welfare Officer to have?
- Peer Support or similar welfare training – but not essential
- Active listening
- A friendly and approachable personality
- Oxford SU Disability 101 training
- Anti-racism/unconscious bias training
- Responsible bystander training
Where can a Welfare Officer signpost students in need of support?
- Student Welfare and Support Services for general welfare guidance
- College/religious chaplains for less formal support
- College welfare teams
- The University counselling service
- The Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service for students who have been a survivor of sexual harassment or violence
- The student’s college nurse or GP
What steps can a Welfare Officer take to promote accessibility at events?
- Ensure that as many accessibility requirements (e.g. step free access, hearing loops, seating, quiet spaces) are provided as possible.
- Produce information regarding the provision of these arrangements when advertising each event.
- Discuss arrangements with disabled attendees so that their needs can be fulfilled.
- Be a responsible bystander by calling out disablism and all forms of prejudice.