You likely already know that student clubs and organizations provide great ways for students to get and stay involved on campus.
Researchers have found direct correlations between such involvement and student GPA. Students also find support, make connections, decrease stress, and learn valuable skills through their participation in orgs.
However, advertising a wide variety of student orgs is crucial. Club fairs and social media posts may not reach all students nor convince those who are hesitant to give a new club a try.
How can we encourage students to venture out of their comfort zones to benefit student orgs? How can we market strategically beyond social media posts, club fairs, and posters?
Read on as I dive into some creative and inspiring strategies that many campuses are already trying out.
1. Orientation conversations
Start the excitement for student clubs and orgs early via orientation. If you have any say over orientation leader hiring, then look for students who are passionate about campus life and are involved in a variety of student orgs. Additionally, during orientation, you can pass out a new student club interest survey and encourage orientation leaders to wear their club swag to an event.
2. T-shirt day
During my first week as an undergraduate student, I noticed tons of students all wearing the same T-shirt in different colors, which intrigued me to learn more about what they were repping. Turns out, it was for Greek recruitment, with each color designating a different sorority or fraternity. You can use a similar strategy for your clubs and orgs; pick a theme and let each org select their T-shirt’s color to wear on a specific day.
3. Club challenges & events
Start a friendly competition between student orgs. Penn State runs a dance marathon during which clubs compete to raise the most money for philanthropy, the University of Connecticut hosts a lip sync battle, and Washington College has an annual pageant.
Activities like these can bring clubs head-to-head to compete for titles, win trophies and plaques that they’ll proudly display in your campus’s union, and invite all members of the student body to spectate. You can donate any ticket sales and other funds raised to a charitable cause.
4. Org passport
Hand out a booklet or sheet with the names of student orgs, categorized by interests, goals, or type of activities. As students attend meetings or chat with members of these groups, they’ll get a stamp. At the end of the week or semester, students who collect a predetermined number of stamps will receive a prize! This could also be easily done at an involvement fair by giving stamps out to students who engage with club tables.
5. Web portal
By creating a branded web portal through Presence, your students will be able to find exciting campus opportunities within seconds — straight from their laptops, phones, or tablets. The Presence team will take care of making it more than just a bullet-point list of orgs; rather, students will have access to a real-time, searchable, filterable listing of all campus clubs, teams, and organizations.
Partnerships & Collaborations
6. Partner with faculty
Collaborating with faculty can not only strengthen the bond between student affairs and academic affairs, but it can also help student orgs bring in new members. Consider asking faculty to be guests of honor at a club meeting, to chaperone an event or trip, or to even highlight student orgs related to their academic field during class.
7. Co-host RA events
With so many awesome residence life programs happening year-round, there’s lots of potential for clubs and orgs to meet students where they spend much of their time while offering busy RAs a hand. For example, a civic engagement org could help an RA plan a workshop about voting or a nutrition club could talk to residents about eating healthy on campus.
8. Partner with admissions
Encourage clubs and orgs to get a foot in the door with prospective students. Consider asking your office of admissions to feature unique and interesting clubs in pamphlets or for campus tour guides to even stop by the club’s bulletin board or operating space with guests. Both of these strategies can help admissions showcase what makes your institution special while getting students to think about what organizations they’d like to get involved with before they even enroll.
9. Collaborate with career services
In responding to a University of Arizona study, 34% of students said that one reason they joined a club was to have that experience appear on their resume. So ask your career services department to highlight, through their programming and individual student conversations, how much club involvement can help students showcase their experiences on their resume. Perhaps career counselors can keep a list of orgs that best match career goals.
10. Club of the week
Ask your marketing department to feature a different club each week on the institution’s website and social media pages. This could involve newsletter articles, video interviews with club leadership, or simply a resharing of a social media post by the org.
11. Social media takeover
Invite student leaders to show current and prospective students the awesome events or trips they’re attending that day through photos, videos, or written reflections.
12. Timely promotions
You could get inspired by fun holidays, days of advocacy, and months dedicated to social identities For example, your marketing could highlight a domestic violence prevention group in October for Domestic Violence Prevention Month, LGBTQIA+ groups in June for Pride or October for LGBT History Month, or even a dairy club on January 11th for National Milk Day.
13. Club branding
Perhaps most obviously, your marketing team can be a helpful resource for student orgs looking to develop branding and recruitment materials. They could ask marketing for best practices in running their social media accounts, designing awesome flyers, and important netiquette rules to be aware of.
14.Cheer on athletics
Ask your athletic directors if student leaders can throw a first pitch, use scoreboard space for an ad, host a game day raffle, or even provide half-time entertainment. Athletes and student org members could even coordinate their game-day clothing choices, with, for example, everyone wearing purple in support of Alzheimer’s research and awareness.
15. Collaborate with counseling, spiritual life, and wellness
Approximately 80% of college students report feeling lonely at least some of the time. Counseling, spiritual life, and wellness staff are all dedicated to supporting students’ mental and social well-being, so make sure these professionals on your campus are equipped with resources to easily connect students who are interested in building relationships through club and org involvement.
Individual Org Initiatives
16. Bring a friend day
Challenge current club members to bring a friend or two to an event, meeting, or trip. Make your guests feel welcome with personalized invitations, guest of honor titles, or club swag.
17. Animal ambassadors
For some extra adorable advertising, invite org members and advisors to post pictures of their trusted animal companions sporting your club’s bandanas and T-shirts on social media.
18. Field & service trips
Invite prospective members to the group’s next local or service trip. This can be especially effective for enticing students to join academic-themed clubs. For example, students may not realize that they don’t need to be a history major to enjoy going to museums or discussing history with peers through a club.
19. Skill development
In the University of Arizona study, 40% of students said that they “strongly agree” that joining organizations helps them to strengthen their communications skills, and 66% agreed that joining organizations strengthens their leadership skills. So, show students how your club can help them acquire these desired skills through marketing, leadership opportunities, or even by hosting a workshop.
20. Flash mob
My status as a millennial might be showing here but when I was a student, a top way to get noticed was through flash-mobs. This is especially a clever way for musical, dance, or other performance-oriented orgs to highlight upcoming events. Be sure the org records the full flash mob and posts it on social media.
21. Open-door spaces
If your campus does not already have full-time space dedicated to student orgs (such as in a student union) then consider devoting a room or section of a high-traffic area for orgs to work on projects and meet casually. Encourage an open-door policy so that passersby might notice and say “What are you doing, and how can I join?”.
22. Start a tradition
Some of my favorite memories of org membership were small things that didn’t require a huge budget nor heavy planning — like getting dinner together in the dining hall, having a study corner in the library, and using our own hashtag for social media. Things that might seem insignificant can often make a huge impact on both your current members and the perception held by prospective members; make them count!
Looking for ideas for creatively advertising events and programs on campus? Check out this post!
What other creative ways have you used to spread the word about your awesome clubs and orgs? Connect with us on Twitter @themoderncampus.