AGMs and EGMs
The UK Government has now advised against all non-essential travel and gatherings in light of the coronavirus risk. This means that you should not plan an in-person AGM for your Club / Society in 2020.
Instead, you should take a look through our guidance on Running Online AGMs, or contact the team for more guidance.
General Meetings - Annual and Extraordinary
Your AGM (Annual General Meeting) is the most crucial meeting of your year. Not only does it give the outgoing committee a chance to review the year and report to the membership of your Club/Society, but it allows you to appoint an incoming committee for the next academic year.
There might be times when you need to call an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting). These meetings would consider any constitutional amendments or executive committee elections that can't wait until the end of the year. For example, if your Treasurer had to step down from their role mid-year, you would need to call an EGM to elect a new one.
So how do you run a General Meeting?
Set a Date and let all your members know – Make sure to set a date that suits most of your membership, and give your members at least 7 days’ notice. Let them know where and when the GM is going to take place, as every member is entitled to attend. Remember you can’t accept any new members once you’ve set the date until after the GM has taken place. You can find a template to help you inform your members and draw up the agenda here.
Appoint a Returning Officer – A Returning Officer is an impartial person that can run any elections being held at your GM. This person can be any member of the outgoing committee that will not be part of your Club/Society next year, or an experienced and impartial executive committee member of a different Club or Society. If you can’t find anyone you feel suits, contact the Students’ Union.
Report to your membership – The outgoing committee must report to the membership at the AGM. They can produce a written or verbal report to highlight everything that's been done in the last year.
Nominations – Nominations for committee positions being elected shall normally be received in advance of, or at, the GM. Each candidate should be proposed and seconded by other student members of the society. You may want to set a deadline for nominations before the GM so that the Returning Officer can get ballot papers ready for the election. Only student members of the society can run for executive committee positions (Chairperson, Treasurer, and Secretary).
Elections – All Elections must be carried out by secret ballot and only student members can vote in elections. The Returning Officer should be provided with a membership list of the Club/Society prior to the GM so that they can cross out students as they vote. The Returning Officer will give out the ballot papers individually and accept votes individually to ensure that the voting is done correctly. The Returning Officer will count the votes* and announce the results at the meeting. You can find templates for your ballot papers here.
Amendments to Your Constitution – If you plan to change your Constitution, then you must let your membership know and let them vote on the change. Two thirds of your membership must agree before the amendments can be passed. Once they are passed, the updated Constitution must be ratified by SU Council to become official.
Just Ask! – If you have any questions about any elements of the GM just ask your Student Officer Activities on firstname.lastname@example.org. It can be daunting if you haven't run an GM before, but we'll keep you right.
Let us know the Results – Once you've held your GM, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know the outcome of any elections, who the Returning Officer was, if there were any amendments to the constitution, and/or any general improvements you think could be made to the process. For AGMs, as soon as we know who the new committee are we can start guiding them for the next academic year.
Write up the Minutes - This is really just a list of who was in attendance, what was discussed, who was elected, and what items were agreed by the members at the GM. You can find a helpful minutes template here. It serves as a useful record for future committees and is a key indicator that your Club/Society is active and running smoothly. You should send these along to the Clubs and Societies team when they're ready.
*There are two methods you can use to count your votes:
First Past the Post
This is a simpler method where voters tick the candidate they wish to vote for on their ballot paper. The candidate who receives the most 'ticks' then wins. In the event that two candidates receive the same number of votes, the Returning Officer should use a random method (e.g. flipping a coin) to determine who wins the election.
Single Transferable Vote (STV)
This is the method which is used in real-world politics for votes such as local council elections. It is more complex than First Past the Post, but it allows voters to rank all candidates in order of preference and makes it extremely unlikely that two candidates will ever end up with the same number of votes. To use STV, your ballot papers should have space beside each candidate name for voters to write numbers to rank their preferences. So if three candidates run for Chairperson, each voter will use their ballot paper to rank the candidates in first, second, and third place. Voters can choose whether to use just one preference, or the maximum (three in this example). This impacts the overall count, so it can be used strategically.
For some tutorials on running STV counts, check out this video which was created for the 2017 Scottish Council Elections. There is also a helpful case study of how to run STV counts for one seat (which applies to the majority of Club/Society committee elections) here which was written by the Moray Council. If you have any queries, just ask the Clubs and Societies team.
No matter which system you use, you also have the option of including RON on your ballot papers. RON stands for 'Re-Open Nominations', and gives voters the chance to 'tick' or give a preference to the idea of re-opening candidate nominations. This can be particularly useful when a candidate is uncontested, as it gives voters more choice in who gets elected. If you include RON, you should include it for all elections, not just for particular roles. Remember that you can use our pre-written ballot paper templates here.
Make sure your Club/Society committee meets up regularly so you can effectively plan for upcoming events, trainings and so that everyone is up to speed with all that is going on in your Club/Society.
Download handy pre-written templates to help support your meetings here. You'll find some guidance notes highlighted in yellow - these should be deleted from your final drafts.