Guide to everything you need to know

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Starting a New Society

A guide to everything you need to know

If you've realised that something you really enjoy is not represented by one of the Sheffield Hallam Students' Union societies then this is your guide for setting up one. Sheffield Hallam University boasts masses of different cultural, sporting, media, religious, academic and social students, so getting people interested in your own society wouldn’t be difficult. This could be your chance to meet new and like minded people and do cool stuff!

Overview - 5 Easy steps to setting up a new society

  1. Download a new society application form from the Students' Union website Any resources or contact details you need for starting and running a society can be found on this website. Do remember to check out the forms and resources page, so you know what you will have to do once the society is set up.

  2. Answer the questions on the form, fill in as much information as you think is relevant to your application and make sure all contact information on the form is correct. The Students' Union may need to contact you at any time during the ratification process.

  3. Email your completed form to

  4. Once you have submitted your application, all you have to do is wait. It will be reviewed by the Activities Officer and a member of staff, before being recommended to a committee of elected student representatives to be formally ratified.

  5. Once the society has been ratified, it's time to start recruiting members and having some fun with it!


You cannot set up a society that covers the same subject or activity that an existing society already covers.

Remember Sheffield Hallam Students' Union is an equal opportunities organisation - your society must be accessible to every student at Hallam.

Your application form will get passed to different people - try and make it as neat and legible as possible (ideally download the form from the website and complete it on a computer). The people who look at your application may not know anything about your society, so please explain as much as you can with lots of detail on the application form.

Societies must be run by Hallam students. You can only have members on your society committee that are students of Sheffield Hallam University.

Completing the Application Form

Funding: Firstly you need to decide whether your society is a 'Free Society' or a 'Paid Society' (see the section on Society Funding) - essentially will you charge a membership fee. If you will charge a membership fee, please state how much that will be. You can charge anywhere between £3 and £20, so think about what you will need to use this money for.

Aims and Objectives: Be as clear with your aims and objectives as possible and list in bullet points. The clearer you are the more likely your society will get passed first time. Your society should have at least 1 aim. This aim is to describe the intended purpose of the society, for example 'To unite all members of Hallam interested in Line Dancing'. Your society objectives should reflect how you intend to achieve the Society's aim, for example 'To hold events to educate members about Line Dancing' or 'To provide line dancing training to all members'.

Is your society unique: There cannot be two societies for the same subject or activity. It may appear that your proposed society is very similar to an existing society, so please state clearly how yours is different. Simply saying 'it is different' will not be good enough - remember if the people reading your application don't know what your society does then they won't be able to see how it is different unless you explain.

Activities: List the sorts of activities that you hope to offer as a society. For example, will you host classes or training sessions, workshops or debates? Maybe you plan to have regular socials, if so what will the socials involve. This gives the people reviewing your application a good idea of what you might do.

Communication: Think about how you will reach your members. Facebook is popular, but not everyone uses it.

Equal Opportunities: All Hallam societies must adhere to the Sheffield Hallam Students' Union Equal Opportunities Policy. You can simply highlight 'YES' to indicate your agreement with it, and you can add in any extra considerations that may be required for your activities (e.g. a physical activity may be difficult for disabled students to take part in).

Additional information: This is the section where you can add anything about your society that you have not been able to include in any other section of the application form. For example, do you have links with any local or national groups that could benefit the society, its members or the Students' Union?

Society Committee: Your society needs to be run by the committee, which consists of at least 3 people for free societies or at least 4 people for paid societies. Make sure you fill in all the details of your committee (see the section on setting up your society committee).

Membership list: If you have opted to become a paid society then you will need to get at least 12 names of students who would join the society if it is ratified. If you find more than 12 this could be an added bonus and may support the case that your new society should be set up. If you are a free society then you don't need 12 names, but it could add to the strength of your application if you did have a list. For more ideas on how to recruit members see the section on recruiting 12 members.

Setting up your society committee

Your Society's Committee must consist of the following roles:


  • Chairing society meetings.

  • Ensuring that the aims and objectives of the society are adhered to.

  • Ensuring that the activities of the society abide by the policies and procedures of Sheffield Hallam Students' Union.

  • Conduct the society affairs in line with the financial regulations of Sheffield Hallam Students' Union.

  • Ensuring that the society committee includes all the officers as follows.

  • Keeps rest of the committee organised and together

Treasurer (required for paid societies, optional for free societies)

  • Be responsible for the society in regard for financial affairs and for ensuring adequate controls to protect the finances of the society.

  • To present at the AGM a written report of the finances of the society.

  • To produce financial plan for the year for the AGM.

  • Checks accounts regularly

  • Maintains long term financial plan for the society


  • To notify members of all meetings of the society.

  • To take minutes at all meetings

  • To issue minutes of meetings to society membership and appropriate Students' Union Officer

  • To monitor the memberships so the full/associate membership remains in balance

  • Regular society information updates with emails/newsletters/blogs etc.

  • Ensures all paperwork and administration is up to date

Equality and Diversity Officer

  • To ensure that the society is open to all students regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender, race or disability.

  • To ensure that members of the society are not discriminated against in any way.

  • To ensure that the society promotes engagement with all students at Sheffield Hallam University.

Optional Roles

If you think different roles need to be created to support your society then you can make your own committee team (however president, secretary and equal opportunities are mandatory, and treasurers are required for paid societies). Think about what positions you might need and the type of events/activities/socials the society could be putting on. So a role could be created to concentrate on publicity, marketing or event coordination. For example:

Equipment Officer

  • To be responsible for all equipment owned by Sheffield Hallam Students' Union and belonging to the society.

  • To ensure that an up to date inventory is submitted to the Students' Students' Union.

  • To inform the Students' Union of any loss or damage to equipment.

Publicity Officer

  • Design suitable material to promote the society

  • Promote all up and coming events for the society

  • Keep any websites, internet groups or forums up to date

Social Secretary

  • To organise and co–ordinate social activities for club members

  • To facilitate participation across all elements of the club and gear events appropriately.

Designing your own team is completely up to you but remember that you need to make your team work. To do this just follow this bit of advice

  • Everyone on the committee needs to know their role and responsibility so make sure the job/role descriptions are clear and concise

  • Committee members need to know what is expected of them by the rest of the society.

  • Everyone needs to know what others are doing, so communicate with one another on a regular basis, regular meetings are essential to avoid miscommunication.

Recruiting Members

  • If you are applying to be a paid society, then you will need to have 12 members to support your application.

  • Set up a Facebook group and spread the word - tell all your friends and course mates

  • Get some posters up around the Students' Union with some contact details on and if you want to arrange an initial meeting of people interested then come and talk to staff in the Activities Pod.

  • If it is a course-related society then speak to your course leader / lecturer to see if they will advertise it via Blackboard or in lectures.

  • Book a stall in the HUBS foyer to promote yourselves.

Society Funding

Societies at Sheffield Hallam Students' Union can choose to be a 'free' society where new members will not have to pay a membership fee to join a society. The free bit also means that the society has decided not to get additional funding from the Students' Union. So you need to decide whether you society wants to be a 'free society' or a 'paid society'. If you become a paid society then as a committee you can choose to charge a membership fee between £3 and £20.

Free society members will still need to fill in a membership form and have a membership card as this is required to keep track of numbers. Paid societies will need to have a minimum of 12 members in the society to access funding from the Students' Union. However free societies will not require a minimum membership but it is recommended that they have the committee positions in place to help the society function correctly.

If you decide to be a paid society, whatever activities that you as a society choose to do the Students' Union is here to help fund them. The other way to raise money is through your membership fees, basically the more members you get the more money that goes into the pot for you to spend on your activities.

Each paid society will be eligible to receive an amount of money for the academic year based on budget request forms.

Under no circumstances can societies set up external accounts.

Your budget from the Students' Union and subscription money from your members can be used on the following items, (although this is not an exhaustive list):

Fees (affiliations, speakers etc.)

Stationery items


Printing and photocopying

Payment of instructors

Subsidising transport

Please note: Sheffield Hallam Students' Union will not pay for, or subsidise food or drinks or the provision of discos or like entertainment for societies. Any such payment or subsidy shall be met through generated income. Generated income can come from any donations or fundraising the society wishes to do.

Ratification process

Once you have submitted your new society application form, it will be reviewed by the Activities Officer and a member of staff that supports societies. If they have any questions they will contact you for more information. Once they agree that your society could be set up, they will recommend it to the Societies Working Group who will review it and decide whether to recommend it to the Representative Committee. This committee will vote on whether to ratify your society, and if the majority agree then your society is officially ratified for the next three years.

Contact details

Once your form is completed email it to

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