As I see it there are a number of reasons for organising social events as part of club life.
- Ice breaker for new members at the beginning of a season
- Fund raiser for a specific item or just generally for club funds
- To help keep the club facilities thriving (for example if you have your own bar, you want to make sure it is being used)
- To celebrate success, bringing the whole club together
- Encouraging inter team interaction to build club spirit
When you arrange an event it is useful to have in mind what your key purpose for that event is. That way you can plan for success and monitor the results to make sure the time and effort put in to organising the event pays off for the club.
Take the first example above, an ice breaker for new members. How are you going to ensure this hits the mark and engages your new members? The danger is that old members will have a fabulous time catching up, whilst new members struggle to get involved. What can you do? Make sure this event is an interactive event, maybe a quiz or games evening. Ensure new members are teamed up with current members and that team captains are capable of involving any new members fully within the activity.
With fund raisers always have a target in mind for the amount you want to raise. Utilise the competitiveness you will have within your club to drive each squad to contribute. Be organised to ensure you have all the tools at hand for the event and encourage participation and off the cuff creativity from all.
Keeping the club facilities alive is getting more and more difficult for all, anyone running a bar will understand the challenge. Again involve your members, they all have friends and family members who can be encouraged to events. If a team own an activity they are more likely to bring in an audience/sell tickets because of their ownership than perhaps the club committee. When you come across an event that works well, don’t flog it to death but schedule it into your social calendar as appropriate to keep it fresh and popular.
Celebrate all successes whether for the juniors, seniors or veterans. Celebrations are important to club spirit, which in turn is important in keeping your club members happy and fulfilled (and not wanting to join another club). Celebrations can include presentation events and end of season events. If you don’t have your own club house, try and support your sponsors by using their facilities where appropriate.
Inter team interaction* is essential and the bigger the club, the greater the importance. When you have members switching between squads, you need them to know their fellow members and to be comfortable slotting in. If you are in a large club it is more likely that you will not know members of the next squad up or down, and for a youngster moving squad can be a difficult transition. Dedicate a couple of events to inter team interaction, encouraging members to interact with different groups and get to know others. As committee members lead by example and go out of your comfort zone at these events to engage with members you may not know so well.
Social events, when well managed, are a great way to maintain a positive club atmosphere and make your club an attractive place to be a member. Variety, planning and review are your three markers for success.
*An example of an icebreaker for this type of event is to ask every member before the event to write down one fact about themselves that no-one else knows (for example “I climbed Snowdon when I was 10”). Then compile these facts into a list and members have to find out who each statement belongs to without using the key words. So for example they couldn’t ask “have you ever climbed a mountain” but could ask “did you go to Wales as a child”. Members have a set amount of time to work out who each statement belongs to and as such end up speaking to as many people as they can.