Whether you have a group of friends with similar interests or are looking to start a new society to connect with like-minded people, setting up a university student club can be a great way to receive funding and officially affiliate with your student body. For many students, being involved with clubs and societies is a highlight of their university experience. Clubs typically affiliate themselves with the main student body to ensure funds are spent on activities that support the group. Below, we set out the steps to affiliate your society or club with your university’s main student union.

1. Apply for an Australian Business Number

You will need to apply for an ABN (Australian Business Number) before you can affiliate or set up an official bank account for your club. An ABN is free to obtain in Australia and can easily be done online. For taxation purposes, a university club would be considered a ‘company, partnership, trust or other organisation’, specifically, ‘other unincorporated entity’. Select the option ‘university club operation’ under the question that asks the best category that best matches with the primary business activity. If you do not already have a tax file number, you can apply for one during this process. There is also an option to add associated individuals with the ABN. These individuals can be club officers or elected officials for the club or society.

2. Set Up a Bank Account

To receive funding for events and activities, clubs and societies will require a separate bank account. To open a bank account, the bank will require you to submit a number of documents that set out who will be operating the account and the authority required for transactions. It is also common that banks will request minutes from a meeting approving the opening of a bank account and for a completed Authority to Operate on a Business Account form, issued by the bank. Banks may also ask for the club or society’s constitution.

3. Draft a Constitution

A constitution sets out the rules that govern the operation of the club as well as the liability and executive committee responsibilities. It covers clauses such as how members can be elected, the resolution of disputes, and how clubs operate as a not-for-profit (that is, forbidding the securing of profits for members). While a model constitution may be available by your main student body, it is important to consider whether you need a constitution drafted specifically for your club or society. If you have plans to expand, or deal with external stakeholders such as government agencies or other organisations, your constitution will be one of the most important documents to protect your club.

Constitutions must allow a reasonable degree of control of the affairs of the club by its members, through general meetings and resolutions. Your Annual General Meeting (AGM) must be held in accordance with the constitution, including giving the correct notice and ensuring a quorum is met. Moreover, AGM minutes should also be taken and recorded.

4. Submit Affiliation Documents

While each university is different, the final step will often involve completing the affiliation forms and submitting it to the main student body. Along with the constitution, you may also be required to submit a membership list, contact list and receipts of membership fees if required. You may need to reaffiliate every year, so it is best to keep these documents in a location that is readily accessible online.

Key Takeaways

Starting a club is a unique opportunity to add to the student culture and meet new people. Before you start planning your first event, make sure that you follow the correct affiliation procedure with your main student body. If you require a constitution to be drafted specifically for your club, a contract lawyer can assist. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Anthony Lieu
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