Effective Student Organization/Problems that Student Organizations Face
Many student organizations face a common set of organizational problems. This section describes the organizational problems that student organizations face including problems with membership, planning for events, leadership, and communication.
Problems With Membership
Problems with membership can be a huge issue especially with new emerging clubs. Depending on the mission statement, a large group of members may be necessary in order to fulfill the clubs goals. In other groups too many members can lead to not receiving as much participation as wanted. In regards to membership clubs face issues ranging from new member recruitment to members fighting. If not dealt with effectively, these problems can lead to the disbandment or eventual dissolution of a club.
One problem with membership that the Scottish Country Dance Club has is that there are only 2 male members, this means that girls are having to wear "man-bands" and dance the males role.
KUGS requires that people volunteer for a certain period of time before they receive pay, which sometimes deters people from becoming involved.
Western's Rugby Club lacks the potential of recruiting new members to the organization that are willing to stay fully committed. As the seniors on the team graduate, it gets a little harder for the team members to find new members that can show the same dedication towards the sport which would be their downfall.
Problems With Missions and Goals
In my time interviewing the Submarine club, there seemed to be a stalemate with the progress of the Club. They have had great achievements in their past endeavors and now face a question of where to go next. There is a newer smaller sub that is in progress but the annual races are a ways away and the submarine team seems to be drifting with the current. Speaking with the leader of the club she sounded confident they would create more exciting subs that would compare to the highly funded competition. For now the Sub team sits patiently, with their large Viking sub in storage to one day rejoin the competition and make & break goals the members have.
Problems Recruiting New Membership
The Hui’ O Hawaii club met with difficulties recruiting new members due to a lack of public awareness of the club. This is partially due to their absence at the Fall Info Fair this past year. However they were represent at the Spring Club Fair, and got some publicity but since then there have been no big recruiting drives. The root cause of HOH's recruitment difficulties is simply its less-than-proactive attitude towards going out and trying to find new members. HOH seems to rely heavily on sheer luck and the initiative of potential members who seek them out rather than making an effort to develop an effective recruitment strategy. Another way of getting new members is by word of mouth; current members will discuss the club with friends who will show up to a meeting and if interested join. While these recruitment tactics do have the advantage of drawing only those dedicated enough to seek out the club, they also mean that the clubs using them will be somewhat lacking in numbers. WWU Cycling club was having similar problems with recruitment and discovered that one of the best ways to find new members was to leave flyers for their club on people's bikes. A good way to increase recruitment for other clubs may be to pin point where they choose to advertise so that those who would be interested in the group, based on hobbies and activities, will be the ones who will see the flyer.
Western Men Against Violence has always had issues advertising itself, but the most recent years have been particularly difficult. Changes in university policy have caused them to be unable to advertise easily and effectively inside the dorms, and therefore they have lost an important part of their recruiting capabilities.
Campus Christian Fellowship has struggled with increasing in members mainly since they only advertise by word of mouth and select events on campus each year. Though the events that CCF holds on campus usually draw attention and the number of members does still increase, there is a desire within the group to see more members attend each week.
Western's Rugby Club does not necessarily have problems with recruiting new members, but instead has a difficult time keeping members. The team mentioned they always receive a high turnout, but as the year goes on, loses the majority of the men.
Dead Parrot's society has had lots of problems with advertising their shows and club in general. It is based on word of mouth and that isn't an effective strategy if you are trying to open the experience up to a wider variety of people.
The Student- Homeless Outreach Team has come a long way since their first established quarter in the spring of 2008. Still they face many obstacles that are impairing their clubs effectiveness. Their main fallback is not having enough people to fulfill the tasks needed. They face the difficulty of having the time to recruit; this takes money, time, and a lot of effort to advertise. As stated by a fellow group member, “I think their needs could be covered generally by recruitment.” With only four members they spend the entire quarter preparing for the event “Be Our Guest.” In several other clubs, such as the Making Western Diverse club and the A’Capella group they all carry the general theme of wanting to advertise for the club more in order to receive an increased number of members. These groups also provided evidence from their interviews that the clubs do not have the funding to recruit or the time. As new clubs are being established, since each of these clubs mentioned above are fairly new, they all face the struggle of how to advertise effectively. With extra help and a little bit of time these clubs would be beneficial to the entire community rather than the small, secluded portion currently involved.
Campus Christian Fellowship has struggled with gaining new members and leaders. At the beginning of the year the club advertises through a fair but during the year they rely on word of mouth. Although this does bring in some new members, it is not as effective and does not increase the membership as much as the leadership in the club would like. This problem with lack of new members/leadership is also an issue because there are not enough core leaders to lead the small groups that are a part of CCF. This is frustrating to the leadership of CCF because they would like to keep the core groups small and have as many people as possible join core groups.
Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX) also experiences problems recruiting members. While membership has gone up this year due to active recruiting attempts, the club's members are mainly women (currently there is only one male member). The club feels like there is a lack of men is an issue. This is mainly because Planned Parenthood and sexual health, the members feel, is for both men and women since it is about safe sex. The club feels that sometimes men seem uncomfortable talking about such things when they are tabling or, as in a certain instance, they say testing is more of a woman’s concern and believe that having more males at events and tabling will help curb these reactions from men.
Campus Christian Fellowship struggles with maintaining strong awareness for the organization. It is always a concern and they are always trying to find even better ways to improve outreach; so, students old and new know that Campus Christian Fellowship is an organization with open arms.
Although Students Against Civilization does very well in retaining members, gaining new membership is a recurring issue. This club predominantly communicates by word of mouth, and is an organization whose views are held by very few. Students Against Civilization has always encouraged anyone and everyone to attend meetings, but has always struggled with getting its message and motives out to the general public.
In the Planned Parenthood group on campus, they face many problems with recruiting. They have plenty of girls within the Planned Parenthood group, but they lack male membership. The group thinks that if they get more male involvement then the goals they are trying to accomplish on campus will be more affective. They want to increase STI testing and the men on campus feel they don't need to listen to Planned Parenthood because it is a women group. That creates a huge problem for the people involved in the group since their goal is to promote safe sex and, most of the times, it starts with the men.
It has been recognized the WWU club Students for Disability Awareness (SDA) has a problem with having enough members. Because of this struggle, communication is difficult, as there are not very many people to get a hold of.
The Photography Club has a hard time getting more members to join because there is not a high awareness or understanding of the club. Not a lot of people know about it and those who do know about it may think that they are not skilled enough to join even though it is open to all skill levels.
The Jewish Chabad has found difficulty in getting the word out that their group exists. The Jewish Chabad discussed that there isn’t a single extremely effective way of letting people know about the group.
Problems with New Member Auditions/Rehearsal
A'capella Club Although the A'capella club has no issue with the recruitment of members due to their invite-only procedure, the club only has one person solely in charge of the auditioning process. Because the recruitment and auditioning processes have not been well documented, the club will have problems finding an effecting method after the person in charge of the current procedure graduates from Western.
Problems With Inexperienced New Members
KUGS radio goes through a re-hiring process every year, having to invest time and effort into training new staff and volunteers in order to keep things running smoothly since there are so many aspects to maintaining a radio station, especially with their need for specific knowledge about technological aspects.
The Student Homeless Outreach Team’s members biggest problem is their lack of members. The current members know that it may be difficult to integrate new members into their system at this point in the year, but that eventually it is going to be essential in keeping the mission of the club alive.
Students for Renewable Energy, a club at Western Washington University that has made the Western campus powered by 100% sustainable energy sources, is also facing the issue of inexperience in their club. For the first time in quite a while, all of the current leadership is graduating, which means that they need to add underclassmen to the club who are passionate about the issues. But the current vice president of Students for Renewable Energy added that in the 2006-2007 school year, there were only 4 returnees which forced the club to re-evaluate what they wanted from the club and what goals they wanted to achieve. It took the entire year to restructure the club because there were lots of clashing personalities. Although it will be a challenge to integrate new students into the club, it is necessary to keep the club alive. And with new people come new ideas which could benefit Students for Renewable Energy and help them to affect the Western Washington University community in a positive way.
Problems With Variable Membership: Decreases or increase in number of members
Western Washington University’s LEAD group it is often in such high demand that the number of volunteers seeking to get involved far outnumbers the maximum capacity allowed by the groups resources. This problem requires the group to expand, a feat especially troubling given the university’s current financial constraints.
Western's Rugby Club's greatest issue is getting newly recruited players to commit. Although a good number of newcomers will initially appear in the fall, the team roster always dwindles as the year wears on. The first few months are the hardest for the team in terms of keeping recruits interested in continuing participation.
In regards to the first paragraph above, there needs to be an introductory overview of what the university’s current financial constraints consists of. There needs to be specific numbers involving the amount of funds needed to run LEAD's group, and state how university’s current financial constraints relates to the amount of funding needed for LEAD.
I feel this first paragraph needs to changed because "the university’s current financial constraints" is too general and vague. There needs to be specific numbers mentioned to show the relationship to the groups current funding. This needs to be placed as an introduction, so the reader will understand what is at play, and not be left wondering what financial constraints there are. to deal with.
The Tango Club needs more publicity done throughout the year. There was a decrease in membership over the past year that is connected to the lack of publicity because first quarter they had forty plus members with posters out on campus whereas now with no publicity being done, the number drops to fifteen members.
A pending issue Slum Doctor Club faces is a decrease in key members, such as the club's current co-founder and president due to graduation. The club's solid members are upperclassmen, and without recruitment of new, younger members very soon, the club may not make it through the next few years.
The Ritmo Salsa club has a much higher membership in the start of the year, which gradually dwindles towards the end. There are a lot of freshman looking to try out new clubs, so the number of people showing up to meetings is very high in the fall. But as the year goes on, the number returning members gets much lower.
Problems Scheduling Membership Meetings and Activities
Associated Students is a huge group of people that their goal for the club is to get people involved with the school and get people to go to the events, films, and concerts that they put on for the students and community around Bellingham. But its hard with so many members in one club to get together on a weekly basis and get them all together on time and get everyone organized for the events. Its something that may be hard to fix but they are hoping one day to fix their problem of participation.
The only main area of weakness that LEAD seems to have is the need to be able to accommodate more people into work parties. LEAD only has three main members involved within the group sometimes resulting in a volunteer overload where community volunteers have to be turned away from various service and or community projects.
The Students for Disabilities Awareness club has had issues in scheduling group meetings of significant size simply due to the fact that the club has only been around for two years.
A problem that many groups are facing, for example the group SMASH, is funding or fund raising. This group has been struggling to get the funds to continue to support their group, this is from lack of public or private awareness and funding.
Problems with meeting attendance
In the Cycling Club, the Vice President pointed out that although they communicate rather easily on the cycling website through the discussion board. There is a lack of members attending meetings that are schedule if the meeting wasn't significant to the biker, or because during the season it gets fairly busy for bikers to attend frequent meetings. In the Harry Potter Club, the President said that they don't take attendance at the meetings because they don't want to make members feel like they have to come, or feel bad for missing a meeting. This potentially causes the effect is that if a member does not like the activity that is planned for the night, they just wont go, causing there to be lower attendance.
Although the experienced members of the Scottish Country Dance Club are helpful and love spreading their knowledge of country dancing, it is still hard to have an affective practice time when all the members are not at the same level of skill. Because the members of the SCDC are busy, attendance from week to week varies; this causes a great variety in ability between the members.
One of Sexploration's main problems is getting new members to attend their meetings. Although Sexploration uses quite colorful posters to advertise meetings very few people attend. This certainly is not due to disinterest in sex but could be due to the taboo nature of the topics discussed or a lack of publicity.
The Club STAND has a problem with meeting attendance because the members just get burnt out on everything that they have to do to keep the club going. So members just decide not to show up which causes the attendance of the meeting to be very minimal.
With the Dead Parrots society if members aren't attending the closed rehearsals it makes it hard for them to put the show together because it's more of a structured setting.
The photography club had a big issue with members attending the meetings. When people don't show up to the meetings then they don't have pictures to show or talk about, which is the whole purpose of the club.
One of the biggest issues with the Scottish Country Dance Club is the meeting attendance. The leader said meetings can range from 8 to 20 members making it difficult to rehearse for upcoming performances. Also, when small clubs such as the Scottish Country Dance Club are not able to fill their meetings consistently with all the students who have signed up, problems arise that can range from miscommunications concerning practice times, missed opportunities for exposure to the club subject in local events such as Folklife or other area internationally themed events, as well as putting the continuation of the club into another quarter in jeopardy.
Problems with ineffective resolution of member conflicts
In any gathering of people there is the potential for conflict—whether the club is Western Men Against Violence, or the Western Rugby club. In most cases these conflicts can be dissipated through peaceful means such as talking or mediation. However, on occasion, such conflicts are not resolved and lead to harm. This harm can be in the form of trash talking, name calling, or rumor-mongering, and in perhaps in some extreme cases—physical attacks. While such conflict is often personal in nature, and thus hard to avoid, poor leadership of meetings or lack of supervision of events can exacerbate conflicts. Thus it is important for groups to learn how to deal with conflict in order to be a more effective and efficient club.
One club ran into problems with disagreements over leadership last year. The resolution of this conflict was when the group split apart. The agitated party left the club all together rather than trying to rebuild and reconnect with other members.
Problems With Leadership
Problems Recruiting Leadership
Sexplortions main problem is that there are so few leadership positions. With only two leaders to get everything done, not only is the future uncertain when the leaders graduate, but there are not enough people to help recruit new members as well as advertise for upcoming events.
Problems Passing On Leadership Skills and Experiences
Many clubs have one person to lead the club. For example, the sexploration club has one person that does most of the work. the leader of the club is a senior and will be graduating this spring so that makes clear that they are going to need another leader to do all of this work.
Even when a club as more than one club leader, such as with the Ritmo Salsa club, if most of the leaders are members of the same grade then upon graduating the collective leadership knowledge of that group of leaders will be lost. The club will then be forced to elect a whole group of new, untrained leaders who will have to learn from scratch how to govern the club.
Women in the Woods The current leaders of Women in the Woods do not know the founders of the club well which makes it hard to carry on a legacy for future club members. The e-mail list of contacts is also inconsistent. Since there are so few regular members, it has been difficult to find leaders that are willing to step up and plan the trips which can often be very intimidating. If they are unable to find effective leaders this year, it could be even more difficult next year, especially without a founder of the club to help.
Besides carrying on the legacy and finding more people to join the club there is another problem that women in the woods face, which deals with promoting. This problem comes from the fact that there isn't very many members, without being able to find more members, activities can not be promoted causing people to not know about women in the woods.
WWU Body Building Club One problem that the WWU Body Building Club is going to be faced with is when the creator and leader graduates; she wants to make sure that the club continues and falls into the right hands because this is an important club. Another Problem the club has is funding. The club cannot hold events, go to competitions, or advertise without the proper funding.
A'capella Club Although the A'capella Club at Western has a great leader right now, there is concern that after he is gone the club will dwindle because his driving motivation might leave with him.
Hui O' Hawaii Leadership in the Hui O' Hawaii group is loosely fixed, members share responsibility in all aspects of leadership, there is a hope that by handling leadership in this way will teach everyone the necessary skills and processes need for leadership so that one of the members can take over at the start of the new year, while receiving help from other members. Leaders are not groomed in advance, but instead step forward once the previous leader has stepped down. While this forms a sense of camaraderie, it may also mean that the leader cannot be as effective as they otherwise might.
World Injustice Awareness Club The problem that the WIAC faced was a lack of members because the past leader stepped down and did not give the current leader the contact information of the other members in the group; the past leader also stepped down late, and thus the current leaders were not able to set up a booth at the info fair.
Problems Related to Ineffective Leadership
The South Asian Student Association(SASA) faced a number of difficulties regarding ineffective leadership during the 2008 and 2009 school year. After a controversial election of the officers the club felt a strong division and split. With the older members leaving the group there was no transfer of knowledge of leadership skills. This led to a continual drop in membership after ineffective leadership. It culminated into the president and vice president dropping out and the steering rep running the meeting to only one or two attendees on average.
Problems with communication
Changing contact information
One problem Students for Renewable Energy had with regards to communication was that they were undergoing a change in leadership. This meant that all of the contact information on their website was outdated, making it impossible to contact continuing members and get updates about where to meet and/or if a meeting was moved or cancelled.
One problem that a few of the Dead Parrots Society members seemed to face was that the contact information provided seemed unreliable. Whether it was outdated organization, or it was lost in WWU's mess of an e-mail system, it's hard to say, but a few members said they did have to go through a few extra steps to really get in contact with the group.
Ineffective types of communication
One of the problems that ASP faces is a problem with effectively communicating when and where events are happening, due to many complications with publicity.
The Creators of Visual Art and Literature Society do not face the common problem of communicating from member to member, but in expressing what it is the club hopes to achieve.
One problem the Harry Potter club has is keeping their member's attention span the entire meeting. This is probably due to the fact that there is a lot of Harry Potter material on the internet, making it very easy to distract the club on some tangent that can end up not relating to Harry Potter at all.
A problem that the WWU body Building Club faces is with communication. Most communication is done through Facebook, which seems to work for them, but a more effective way of communication might be holding formal meetings.
Poor past relationship with the University.
The WWU Cycling club has had some problems in the past with communication and cooperation with the University. In a past race there was some damage to Western property that was handled poorly by the group leadership. The current leadership is working on building a relationship with the administration, as well as working with other groups to get their message out
Problems Related to Operations and Planning
Problems with Technological Advancement
The SMASH club has encountered a rather unique problem with the advancement of its technology. The club was started with the GameCube version of the game, "Melee." However, as the new version, "Brawl," came ot for Nintendo Wii, the group encountered a conflict of interest. They are still struggling to advance to the new version of the game because most of the members prefer to play the older version.
Problems With Funding
Funds are an important asset for many clubs on campus. Besides the AS start up contribution of $50 the clubs are responsible for coming up with the money to fund events and pay for supplies. To do so the club has three options, pay out of their own pocket, take out loans with the AS, or fundraise. Fundraising is a great tool for coming up with extra money; however often clubs are inhibited by their lack of members or opportunities to put on a successful fundraiser leading to a shortage of funds.
My club was Students for Disability Awareness and they had problems with funding that lead to a decrease in the number of events that this club was able to host. Money and funding are a key component to this clubs success.
The funding problem due to the photography club is since they are a fairly new club they do not have pre-existing funds left from previous members. Because there is no pre-existing money they have to fund-raise for field trips and a dark room that they have no current access to.
The Croquet club has trouble with funding because they struggle with finding funding and even starting a fundraiser. The funding in many clubs has decreased in the last few years. The leader of the club uses his own money to purchase equipment and prizes for the winners of their tournaments.
WWU Bodybuilding Club Like many other WWU campus organizations, one of the major problems that the bodybuilding club is faced with is a means of obtaining funds. Currently, their only mode of funding is money earned through selling jello (jelly) shots. There are many activities that the bodybuilding club would like to organize and be involved with but they just don't have the funds to support these efforts. Fundraising tactics need to change in order to allow this club to grow to its full potential.
Student Homeless Outreach Team One of the bigger struggles for the Student Homeless Outreach Team is fundraising. The reason why fundraising is so hard is because of the group’s membership. The group has the ability to recruit dozens of students for its quarterly event “Be Our Guest” but the core club only consists of four members. Although they have been successful with their event many other club necessities have been postponed because there are not enough members to fulfill certain duties, such as fundraising. Since “Be Our Guest” is based on the donation of meals to hungry members of the community the club doesn’t get any revenue off of the event and they rely on loans or grants from the Associated Students. In my interview with the group leader, she felt that if the club was able to recruit more members for the club then they would be able to spread out other duties such as publicity and event planning, there would be more time for fundraising. With more funds the club would be able to give money back into the community or sponsor events with other clubs to spread the awareness of hunger in other countries.
The Dead Parrot Society Many clubs, the Dead Parrot Society for example, only acquire funds through events that they host, so publicity for events is a critical issue for many clubs; without publicity they lose funding. Hui O' Hawaii is another club that had some problems with fundraising and according to the President, the problem stemmed from always getting off track during group meetings. They sometimes tended to run off topic, so fundraising ideas weren't always acknowledged.
The Dead Parrots Society's funding problems stem from publicity issues, but could be solved by using more accessible venues when hosting events, which would result in increased attendance.
Croquet Club One weakness that the Croquet Club suffers from is funding. While the club does get the 50 dollars from the school, this serves as a difficult process. Most of the money used for prizes, snacks, and trophies unfortunately come out of founder Devin Spencer’s own pocket. He also owns all of the equipment, which is altogether mismatched, worn out, broken, or outdated. Fund raising is simply a donation jar that Devin puts out every meeting. With adequate funding, this already enormously popular, up and coming club could afford better equipment, prizes, and snacks that do not have to come out of Devin’s own pocket. Croquet Club could also grow a great deal with more funding, surpassing many clubs in popularity and attendance.
Campus Christian Fellowship (CCF) CCF generally gets its funding through it members and its alumni. Every service there is an offering bucket passed around for those who would wish to donate or attribute money. The summer meetings for CCF are generally the hardest time for funding because most students go home for the summer and aren't in Bellingham to give money. This is a problem especially for the staff at CCF. That is why most of the staff do fundraising over the summer to make up for the money not be attributed by the students, parents or alumni.
CCF has also had the issue of legal action against it in the past which has hindered its ability to meet. The idea of a religious club on campus has proven to be problematic in the eyes of some, and the club has had to fight several legal battles to be able to keep its right to meet. For the most part, CCF has won these legal battles and the only loss the club has sustained is that the Core groups are no longer allowed to reserve dorm lounges for its weekly meetings.