Congratulations on starting a Service Year Campus Chapter at your university! You are part of a growing movement of Americans taking action for service across the country. It’s hard work, but we promise it will also be a lot of fun. If you’re laser-focused, it takes just a couple weeks to get your chapter off the ground. Here’s a guide to get you started:
Step 1: Make it Official
Find out what it takes to register an official chapter or student group at your university. You will likely need to fill out paperwork at your school’s office of student life/ activities to get your chapter started on campus. As a registered student organization, you’ll be able to table on campus, reserve rooms, post flyers, and other added benefits. The process varies from school to school so be sure to touch base with your College Organizing Manager if you run into any challenges.
Step 2: Create Your Executive Board
Organizing your chapter will be infinitely easier with help! Recruit other like-minded students to help you lead the effort. Identify other students that are willing to take on a leadership role and share responsibility. The design of the executive board depends on your chapter’s needs, strengths, and the leadership model that will be most effective at your school. An example of roles may include:
- Campus Leader: the Campus Leader is the primary point of contact for the Service Year Campus team and the liaison between Service Year Campus staff and your chapter. She/he is ultimately responsible for the coordination and execution of chapter activities and serves as the point of contact for members of Congress and other stakeholders.
- Vice President/ Co-Campus Leader: The Vice President/ Co-Campus Leader is the secondary point of contact for your chapter and the Service Year Campus team, assisting in the coordination and execution of activities.
- Treasurer: The Treasurer’s primary responsibility is to ensure your chapter is in good standing with your school’s administration and student activities office and oversees any funding or budget (as applicable).
- Secretary: The Secretary is responsible for important dates, upcoming meetings, meeting minutes, and deadlines. She/ he often manages the chapter’s lists and databases and ensures all actions are reported accurately.
- Public Relations: Officer: The Public Relations Officer is responsible for external communications and outreach, namely promoting your chapter’s events, activities, and opportunities to get involved through flyers, email, social media, class pitches, and other on-campus marketing.
Step 3: Recruit New Members
Recruiting a core group of supporters on campus—whether they are students interested in serving a year or passionate about using their voice or both—should be a priority throughout the semester. Be mindful that every action you take on campus is an opportunity to recruit new members. Here are some organizing tactics to get you started:
- Table on campus in the cafeteria, the quad, and other locations on campus with significant foot traffic.
- Partner with sports teams, Greek organizations, and other clubs and organizations to expand your reach. Ask to join one of their meetings or co-sponsor an event and invite participants to join your efforts. Remember, service is an issue that brings people together.
- Classrooms have built-in audiences. Work with your professor and ask if you can give a class rap or presentation to recruit new members and generate action.
Tabling Best Practices:
Tabling can be used for recruitment and to generate actions like petition signatures or sign-on letters. Here are some tips to ensure your tabling effort is successful:
- Prepare: have your 15-second, Service Year Campus elevator pitch ready. Always have an invitation to the next opportunity to get involved in hand (ex. an invitation to an upcoming event; a flyer for the next meeting; etc.)
- Meet your audience where they are: What’s their major? Where are they from? Why do you care about service years? Why should they?
- Get a commitment: Make an “ask”, whether that’s a petition signature or to sign-up for more information about your chapter.
- Follow-up: After recruiting a new potential member, follow-up with them within 24 hours with a clear next step, whether that’s to meet for coffee and discuss the campus chapter or to join the next chapter meeting.
- List-building: When possible, use your unique link to encourage people to join your chapter so your progress will be automatically captured. If that’s not possible, use this sign-up sheet and send it directly to your College Organizing Manager after your event.
Step 4: Host Informational Meetings
Hosting a few informal, informational meetings can be useful in recruiting new members, educating them about Service Year Campus, and opportunities to get involved this semester. Use the deck supplied by your College Organizing Manager as a guide for your pitch. Hold the meetings a few different weeknights in order to maximize attendance and reach.