Club Advisor Resources

Hello! On behalf of the Office of Student Activities and Engagement, we want to say thank you for volunteering to be a club advisor. With your help, we are working to provide support to our clubs and organizations to help them be successful, gain leadership experience, and enhance their involvement while at the University of Mary Washington.

Interested in becoming a club advisor? E-mail Sandrine Sutphin at

Here are some benefits to becoming a club advisor:

  • An opportunity to get to know and work with students outside of the classroom.
  • A rewarding feeling when seeing the club reach its fullest potential
  • A rewarding feeling while watching student develop their skills and talents
  • The opportunity to informally share your knowledge of relevant topics
  • A chance to service students, the University, and the larger community

Club Advisor Resources:

 Student Expectations
Student leaders were asked to list the qualities they would like to see from club advisors. Below is a list of the top responses from students.

• Understand and be able to explain University Policy (including finance policies and event planning protocol)
• Meet with club leadership one-on-one
• Represent the group in any conflicts with members of the University
• Maintain important documents and files pertinent to the club
• Speak up during discussions when you believe the club may be making a poor decision
• Let the group work out its’ problems, but help them avoid making major mistakes

Additional Advising Do’s
• Be knowledgeable about, and comply with federal, state and local laws and ordinances, as well as campus policies. Inform the group of pertinent policies when preparing for events.
• Empower students to take action and to take satisfaction in seeing the student organization succeed.
• Allow the group to succeed, and allow the group to fail. Offer suggestions when possible, but allow the group to make mistakes. Remember to let the students make the decisions while you provide guidance and advice.
• Schedule a meeting with club officers to develop clear expectations about the role of the advisor and your relationship to the organization, as well as goals of the organization.
• Develop a strong working relationship with all the officers. Establish as needed meetings with individual members of the organization that need additional guidance in their officer or committee positions.
• Discuss concerns with officers in private and praise them in public.
• Orient new officers and members to the history and purpose of the group and help them to build upon it. Help members look toward the future by developing long-term goals and communicating those plans to future members.
• Help to resolve inter-group conflict.
• Enjoy the impact you can have on the students’ development. Help to develop the leadership potential within the group. Be visible and choose to attend group meetings and events. At the same time, you don’t need to attend every event. The students understand you have other responsibilities so attendance when possible is appreciated.
• Be a resource. The advisor does not set the policy of the group, but should take an active part in its formulation through interaction with the members of the group.
• Head off situations that might give rise to poor public relations for the student group or University.
• Encourage feedback and the evaluation process.
• Provide support. Let the group work out its problems, but be prepared to step in when called upon to assist.

The needs of each organization are different. This list is not applicable to every organization, but can help provide information on the role you play within the club.
While being an advisor has several benefits, it is not always an easy role to play. You may need to make difficult decisions or take an action that may not be popular within the club. Your responsibility is the health and well-being of the students and to ensure the club is upholding campus policies. On occasion, it may be necessary to use authority to ensure you meet this responsibility.

Advising Don’ts
• Know it all. While you should be aware of the information, encourage the officers to know their club inside and out.
• Take complete control of club matters. The clubs are meant to be student-run so they should be doing the work necessary to run the club while you ensure policies and procedures are followed.
• Close communications. Failing to communicate with the club can prevent them from getting vital information necessary to run their club effectively.
• Allow the organization to become a one-person organization. It is important for club leaders to develop skills, such as delegation, so that every officer has a role to play in club matters.
• Assume the group handles everything okay and doesn’t need you. The students value your leadership and input. Setting clear expectations at the beginning of each semester can help you better understand how they might need you.
• Assume the organization’s attitudes, needs and personalities will remain the same year to year. Students are always changing, and their clubs are a direct reflection of that. It is important to understand each set of new officers to develop your plan for the semester.

Some information has been gathered from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Center for Student Involvement.