societies and student groups

How to run a great society

Your society members are the heart of your society. Without them your group wouldn’t exist. So how do gain and retain your members?

Getting students to join your society

Whether you’re a new or pre-existing society, your membership resets each year, so gaining members should always be a priority for you – particularly at the start of the year. When you’re building your membership, remember the following:

  • All committee members need to purchase their membership fee each year. This is so non-members aren’t running the society. This is also an immediate 3 members!
  • All current students of University of East London can join your society – remember to think about promoting your society outside your immediate friendship groups and classes.

Tips for recruiting members

Attend all possible recruitment events (i.e. Welcome Fair, Welcome Back Fair).

The Union organises these events so students can see what opportunities there are to get involved in your groups. We have around 3,000 students passing through Welcome Fair each year. So, take advantage of this and get talking to students. Sitting behind the table won’t get anyone excited about joining your group. Here’s some ways to increase your membership at the fairs.

  • Be enthusiastic
  • Attract students over to your stall with freebies, games and a simple ‘Hello, how are you doing today? What are studying?’
  • Talk to students about them, show an invested interest. Even if they don’t end up joining your society, you would have left a great impression with that student who might go on to tell their friends about you. Word of mouth can quickly build your society.
  • Make your stalls visual! Show pictures and videos of what your society does. This is your best marketing tool!
  • For those interested in joining your society, tell them how they can easily become a member. They can purchase the membership online on your society webpage or they can come to our reception to pay in person. Remember to tell them, until they have purchased their membership fee, they won’t be on our system to receive your regular updates.
  • Tell students about your upcoming taster event, where they can try out your society for one session to see if they like it before committing to a membership.

Social media

Using social media to tell students about your new or pre-existing group and advertising memberships on sale, is a great way to spread the word about your society much further than your current friendship circle/classmates.

Remember to share your group on:

  • Course pages
  • Halls pages
  • General UEL pages

Once your social media pages are active, keep them updated regularly and try to post interactive posts to keep your members engaged. Further guidance on this can be found here.

Lecture shout outs

Lecture shout outs about your new/pre-existing society can be a great way to gain new membership. This is a particularly useful one for academic societies as everyone in the room would have an interest in what your society has to offer. If you are looking to organise a lecture shout out, here are some tips:

  • Organise in advance with your lecture and appropriate time to have 5-10 minutes to talk about your society
  • Be prepared! Make sure you know what you are going to say about your group. Think about telling prospective members about:
    • the purpose of your society,
    • the time of activities and events you run,
    • how often you host these activities and events,
    • how they can become a member
    • what opportunities there are for those who want to be involved every week/ month, or those who want to be involved less often.


Stall bookings

Holding regular stall bookings throughout the year and across the different campuses, can be a great way to keep the presence and promotion of your society. Find out how to book a stall here. 

Keeping your members interested

So, students have purchased membership for your society and are now officially part of your group. For your events and group to be successful, you need these new members to be ‘active members’. This means they are regularly attending your events and getting involved in your activities.

There are many benefits to you and your members for having active members, including but not limited to:

  • It is easier to sell tickets for your larger events, limiting the financial risk to your group
  • Your members get to meet and build lasting friendships with others in your group
  • Your members feel part of a community
  • Your group is contributing to your members fantastic student experience
  • Members who love attending your activities and events, tell others about how great your group is, attracting new members.

So how do you keep your members engaged?

  • Give your members a voice – form your activities and events based on what your members want. Hold polls and an accessible way for members to give you feedback about your group and activities. Happy members mean more engagement!
  • Hold regular activities – going to society events can be daunting to begin with. Holding regular activities encourages friendships to form quickly and gets your activities into your members weekly schedule. The more reliable you are at delivering activities regularly the higher your ‘active’ membership will be.
  • Build a welcoming environment – don’t create a clique! Remember your groups are open to all and should be welcoming to all. Say hello to new members, introduce them to longer standing members so they feel welcomed and settled into your group quicker. Members who feel more welcomed are more likely to stay!
  • Be Inclusive and Accessible – part of being welcoming is being inclusive and accessible to all your members. Is your venue wheelchair friendly? Do you give trigger warnings before large events? Do you cater to those who don’t like having socials in an alcoholic environment?
  • Shout about the good stuff! – submit a society spotlight, create news articles on your webpages or submit a Union Award Nomination. Tell members how great your group is, this will make your members feel proud to be part of your group as well as attract new members.