faqs

 

what if we want to use henna or face paint?

We must ensure you only use brown, natural Henna to reduce the risk of reaction or infection. Absolutely NO black Henna is to be used.

You cannot do Henna on children without the permission of their guardian. You cannot do Henna on anyone with open wounds.

If your society is wanting to use Henna for an event or on a stall, you will need to have a disclaimer. You can download one by clicking here

how do our accounts and finances work?

The President and Treasurer of a society are responsible for its finances - and this includes filling in budget application forms, paying fundraising income into the society’s account, and signing expense claims.

They both receive an automated finance report every week stating the current balance of the society’s accounts, and listing all transactions.

Society accounts contain two seperate funds:  one for membership income (known as the Budgeted Fund) and another for money carried over from the previous year and added to by fund raising (known as the Non- Budgeted Fund).

Because the money in the Budgeted Fund has been paid to the soceity by its current memebrs, it may only be spent on matters that relate to the core aims and objectives of the society. To make sure his happens, if a society want to spend this moeny the expenditure maust be approved in advance by the SU Societies Team.  This is the purpose of the budget application process.

Money in the Non-Budgeted Fund can be spent in any way the President and Treasurer feel is appropriate, so long as the expenditure benefits all members of the society.

No society is permitted to hold or deal with money outside their authorised account, which is an account administered by the University of Essex Student’s Union. To do so is a serious breach of the Students’ Union’s financial regulations.

This means that all money raised by or on behalf of a society - including donations or collections from members - must be paid immediately into the society's Non-Budgeted Fund.

Please search for 'training' to view or download training materials recently delivered by the Team that may help to answer more of your questions.

How do we hold an event in one of the venues on campus?

If you want to hold an event in one of the following venues

  • SU Bar
  • Top Bar
  • Base
  • Sub Zero

there are a number of options available to you, depending on the availability of the venue, the nature of your event, the time of your event, the number of people realistically expected to attend and your budget.

As a general guide, events involving collaboration between several societies, or societies and clubs, have a better history of success, so you should explore opportunities to collaborate whenever possible.

 Although the Societies Department will support you with your event, the promotion and marketing of the event will be your responsibility, and you should plan this carefully.

Once you have made a decision about your requirements, please complete an online Venues Booking Form here
 
Always try to book your venue as far in advance as possible, especially if your event is scheduled for a popular time of year.

 

how do we elect an executive committee?

All elections must be held online.

Any member of the Students’ Union who is a full member of a society can stand and vote in that society's election.  Members must be given at least one week’s notice of an impending election, and minimum nomination and voting periods apply.
 
Please note that a minimum of 25% of members (or a minimum of 30 members, if there are more than 120 members) must take part in the election for each position. This is known as a quoracy requirement - an inquorate election is automatically an invalid election, while a quorate one is usually valid.
 
If you are having problems standing or voting is an election, or of you think your soceity may need to hold an election, please contact the SU Societies Team on susocs@essex.ac.uk.

what documents & FORMS do we have to fill in?

Societies must fill in the following documents every year, all bar one one of which can be accessed using the hyperlinks below:

  • Specimen Signature Sheet  - must be signed by the President & Treasurer (hard copy only)
  • Inventory  - if your society owns any property, this must be signed by either the President, Treasurer or Secretary
  • Handover Form (at the end of the year) – must be signed by the current and newly elected Presidents

You may also be asked to complete other forms when you are holding events or specific activities.  We will try to create a complete list of these below:

  • Events on Squares Form - if you are doing something on Square 3 that involves music or soemthing out-of the-ordinary, or if you want to use Squares 1,2,4,5 or 6, then you will need to fill this in and bring it to the SU Societies Office
  • Risk Assessment - all your regular and one-off activities and events should be the subject of a risk assessment.

 

what training is there for executives?

The SU Societies Team organises a small number of compulsory training sessions for core officers (Presidents, Treasurers and Secretaries) at the beginning and end of each academic year, with a number of sessions being repeated at intervals throughout the year to cater for newly ratified societies.

Additional optional training sessions and workshops will be made available to all executives throughout the year, and executives are also encouraged to take part in training provided by SU Learning & Skills and Rebel.  (Find out more about these via this link to SU Learn.)

PowerPoint presentations of the Societies Team's recent training sessions are available to view or download here, as follows:

how do i find an answer that isn't here??

If you can't find an answer to your query in our FAQ section, there are a number of different options available to you.

  • Post a question on the Society Executives Facebook page, which can be found here. It should be answered quite quickly by either another executive or a member of the Societies Team.
  • Ask your society's convenor, or a relevant officer of the Soceities Guild Committee - you can find their contact details here.
  • Ask us in person, by dropping into the SU Societies office during our open hours, Monday to Friday from 10:00 - 12.30.

Alternatively, you can drop us an email at susocs@essex.ac.uk.  However, please bear in mind that we are very busy at certain times of the year, and although we will try to get back to you as soon as we can, one of the options listed above may be quicker..

why do we need to complete a budget form?

An annual budget application form needs to be completed by the Treasurer and President of every society so that the SU Socieites Team can approve planned expenditure of the society's membership income.  This money (called the the Budgeted Fund) can only be used to fulfill the core aims and objectives of the society.

Use this link to read or download a copy of the Budget Application Form.

If your society’s plans alter later in the year due to changes in your income or circumstances, you will need to complete a Supplementary Budget Application Form.

why do I need to complete a supplementary budget  form?

Treasurers and presidents should complete a Supplementary Budget Application Form if there are changes to the society’s anticipated income for the year, (e.g. as a result of greater or fewer memberships) or to the society’s spending plans ( e.g. due to the cancellation or addition of events, the need to replace equipment, etc.)

A revised Supplementary Budget form will be made available soon.

how are societies affected by VAT?

At present, all societies pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on their income, at a rate of 20%.

(This does not mean 20% is deducted from your income, as it assumed that it has been included in all prices.  As an example, for each £5.00 membership that is paid to a society, the society receives £4.17 while 83p is deducted in tax and paid to the government.)

This matters when you are calculating profit margins on an event. For example, if it will cost you £200 to host an event, you may plan to make a small profit if you sell all the tickets for £220. But because you pay VAT on the ticket money, you will receive only £183.33 after tax, so in fact you will make a small loss.

(To calculate the amount of VAT you will pay on income, divide the pre-tax figure by 1.2. Using the above example, £220.00 divided by 1.2 = £183.33. If you then subtract £183.33 from £220.00, you can see that £36.67 in VAT has had to be paid.)

However,  because societies pay VAT on their income, they can recover any VAT they pay when making purchases, so anyone buying items on behalf of a society MUST remember to ask for a VAT receipt. (For example, if you spend £20 on chocolate biscuits for a party, but obtain a VAT receipt, it will only cost the society £16.66.)

The Students’ Union’s Finance Office pays and recovers all VAT amount on your behalf, so societies do not need to become involved in the mechanics of this process - however, it makes good financial sense to be aware of it!

HOW DO I pay money into my society’s account?

Memberships and tickets sold online or at the Reception desk are automatically paid into your society’s account by the Finance Office, so you don't need to worry about those.

If you are paying in cash following a fundraising event or similar, just complete a Paying-In Form and take it to the SU Reception desk along with the money you need to pay in.

Paying-in forms are kept at Reception, but you can download a copy here.

Cheques made out to the University of Essex Students’ Union can also be paid into your account by the Finance Office, so long as there is a covering letter explaining why the money is being paid to your society, and who is paying it.

Bank transfers can also be made directly to your society's account: please contact the SU Societies Team at susocs@essex.ac.uk and we will give you the details.

*Don’t forget that you must pay VAT on all income other than charitable donations, so if an individual or organisation decides to make a charitable donation to your society account, the fact that it is a charitable donation needs to be made very clear in a supporting letter or email.  The Finance Office will help you with this process, if you wish.*

A different procedure applies to money that your soceity has raised for charity - see 'How Do I Pay Money to a Charity?')

 

how do societies pay money to charities?

Money cannot be paid directly from a society’s account to a charity, because the Student’s Union is itself a Registered Charity, and charity law does not permit this - so if your socity has raised money for a charity DO NOT pay it into your soceity account.

Instead, the money needs first to be paid into a special holding account, known as the ‘Raise and Give’ (RaG) account.

First, you will need to complete a normal Paying-In Form and take it to the SU Reception Desk along with the money you need to pay in to the RaG account.

Paying-in forms are kept at Reception, but you can download a copy here.

At Reception you will also need to complete a separate RaG Form which they will supply to you, giving the details of the charity you have raised the money for. After that, either the money can be transferred by the SU directly to the charity you have selected, or you can ask for a cheque to be made out to the charity so that you can send it yourselves, together with a covering letter.

All this means that expenses claims may have to be dealt with differently. If you need to deduct expenses from the money that has been raised for charity, you will need to take it from the money that you pay in - unless these will be covered from your soceity's Non-Budgeted Fund - because once the money has been paid into RaG no expenses can be claimed from  it.
 

 

 

can you help with fundraising?

Always make it clear who you are raising money, and tell people the name of the charity you are helping if that is the reason for your fundraising.

If you are short of ideas, you can try searching online, ask the Societies Guild Committee's Charity and Fundraising Officer (find their contact details here)  or ask another society to collaborate with you - sometimes, two heads are better than one!

Whatever you choose, you will want to make a profit, so try to keep your costs down – if you spend more money than you earn, you will make a loss. This sounds obvious, but it can and does happen!  For this reason it is a good idea to make sure that someone keeps track of all the money that is being spent, especially if several people are involved in buying things.

Unless you are raising money for charity, don’t forget to deduct VAT from the amount you raise when calculating your profit or to ask for VAT receipts when you make purchases so that the tax can be claimed back on your behalf, reducing your costs.

If you need to book a table on Square 3, book a room on campus, book sports facilities, book an entertainment venue on campus, or deal with external service providers, please see the relevant FAQ entries for more details.

Depending on the nature of your event, you may also need to apply for permission from the Estates Department via an Events on Squares Form (which you can read or download here) and complete a risk assessment (which you can read or download here).

 



 

what if i want to pay a company or person for services?

In law, a contract is: “(A)n agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit, known as consideration.”

So if you are booking a restaurant that requires a deposit, holding an event in a venue off campus, booking a DJ, booking a trip, paying someone to decorate a room for an event, etc. you are entering into a contract.

As a society executive you are not authorised to enter into contracts - societies are part of the SU, so contracts need to be made with it, and the SU has only a few individuals who are authorised to sign contracts on its behalf.  Any such agreements therefore need to be sent to the Societies Department, and we will arrange for the appropriate person to sign them.

The Societies Department can also provide you with a suggested template for a contract for the supply of services, should you require one.

PLEASE be careful about entering into or changing the terms of agreements via email, text or messaging. These are still contracts, and need to be both clearly set out and signed.

how do we hold an event on the squares?

If you want to hold an event on Square 3, you should contact SU Reception either in person or via su@essex.ac.uk and ask them to book you a space.

Reception staff can also help if you need to book use of a table, gazebo, or Societies Guild equipment.

If your event will take place one of the other Squares, or if it is a Square 3 event which falls outside the normal range of events held there - sales, promotions etc. - you will need to obtain permission from the University's estates department at least three weeks beforehand by completing an ‘Events on Squares’ Form which you can download using the link provided.

If you want to sell or give out food at your event, you will need to comply with food hygiene regulations and  also complete a Food Agreement Form. Again, please use the link provided.

how do we book a room on campus?

Societies are able to book rooms free of charge via Central Room Booking, subject to the agreement of the SU Societies Team, who need to sponsor your event. Just complete the online Room Booking Form here and it will be forwarded to both the Team and CRB automatically.

Please fill in the form carefully, making sure that you don't allow autocomplete to insert your own name in place of the Soceity name, and/or your private email address instead of your Essex one, as this means that the booking cannot be processed.

If you are inviting external speakers or guests to your event you must declare this, and you should make your booking at least two weeks in advance so that the necessary approval can be obtained.

Should your event be other than a simple gathering or meeting you may need to complete a risk assessment, and if  you wish to sell or give out food at your event you will need to comply with food hygiene regulations and also complete a Food Agreement Form which you can download using the link provided.

can we hold an event off campus?

There is no reason why you cannot hold an event off-campus, although you will need to take a number of additional factors into account.

These will include:

  • setting out clear, written terms for your agreement with the venue and having the contract signed by an authorised representative of the SU
  • finding out whether the venue will require a minimum number of ticket holders
  • deciding whether the society will make travel arrangements on behalf of members, and who will pay for them
  • finding out whether a hire cost applies, and whether a deposit will need to paid, and
  • finding out whether the society or the venue will be collecting ticket income and handling admissions.

If a third party site is used to sell tickets (such as Eventbrite), you will need to take into account the effect of commission on profit margins, and will need to provide them with a refernce they can use when transferring the money to the SU, as it can otherwise be very difficult to trace it!  (Please ask the SU Societies team at susocs@essex.ac.uk and we will give you this along with the SU account details.)

You may also need to complete a risk assessment for the event, although the Societies Department can offer you some support with this.

can you help us to promote our event?

Your Societies Department and Students’ Union can help you to promote your event in a number of ways, depending on how much notice you are able to provide and the nature and scale of your event, although the main responsibility for promotion must rest with you as organisers.
 

Society web pages

When you create an event on your society page at essexstudent.com it is automatically displayed beneath your convene heading on the 'Find a Society' page and also on the Societies ‘What’s On’ page (unless you tick the box stating that the event is to be displayed to members only).

Events held in the SU’s campus venues will also appear in the SU ‘What’s On’ page and on the 'Alcohol Free Events' page if it falls into that category AND you remember to tick the relevant box!

In addition,  if your event is likely to appeal to many people on campus, the SU Societies Team can also promote it on the University’s own ‘What’s On’ page.

 

Social Media

The SU Societies Team  will do their best to support any promotion you do on social media by way of copying links, ‘liking’ on Facebook, re-tweeting etc, so long as we are given adequate notice - and you send us the links!

 

promotion on squares

Promoting your event by handing out flyers - perhaps on a Thursday market day - or running a stall on another day, complete with music (if relevant) and/or giveaways, is a very effective way to promote an upcoming event.

 

Screens (between squares 3 & 4)
  • The screens are designed to reach a wide auidence, so you we can only agree to promote your event in theis way if it is large enough, and general enough, to be likely to appeal to a broad section of SU members.  If your event is small scale or specialist in nature, there are far more effective ways to promote it.
  • Screen time is in high demand and must be shared equally - therefore, we cannot guarantee it. If you have a number of events coming up which are sutiable to be promoted in this way, please consider which benefit most from, and priortise them.
  • Finally, marketing need a fair amount of time to get the screens up and running, so you must provide a minmum of three weeks' notice if you would like your event to be promoted in this way.
  • If you would like to proceed with a request for screen time, having read through the above, please click here.

how can we sell tickets for our event?

The Societies Department can create tickets that can be bought by members and non-members either online, at the SU Reception desk, or on the door of SU venues.

Just create an event on your society web page, then send details of the event, along with ticket prices and any capacity limits, to susocs@essex.ac.uk.

We normally recommend that you sell tickets online in this way, rather than using paper tickets, because you will otherwise need to make sure that the tickets are numbered to create a paper trail for your income, and also to avoid people photocopying them or claiming that they have ‘lost’ their tickets.

In addition, paper tickets need to be paid for in cash, which is not always convenient, and the money will need to be counted, kept safe, and paid into your society's account  - and you will also have to provide a float, in order to give change.  

Also, if there is more than one society collaborating in this event, the money will need to be split between the different societies before being paid in by their various executives.

On the other hand, online purchases made via credit or debit card are convenient, and ticket income from web sales goes straight into your account.  Where societies are collaborating, income from web sales is automatically paid to each member’s society, with non-member income being split equally between the societies involved.

Using essexstudent.com, purchases can be made anywhere, and at any time, and you will know exactly how many tickets have been sold.  You can also view, download and print a list of ticket holders, so dealing with admissions will be simplified. A link to the event can be created from any social media account, so you can promote the event yourselves and people can then follow the link to essexstudent.com to make the purchase.

Likewise, if you want to sell the tickets on squares, you can just take a laptop out with you.

Lastly, unlike Eventbrite and similar portals, there is no commission levied, so your society gets all of the income.

how can i register to drive a minibus?

The SU has four vehicles that can be hired by societies - one 9-seater people carrier, and three 17-seater minibuses

To drive an SU vehicle you must meet certain conditions and successfully pass an assessment

The main condition is that you must have been driving for a minimum of 2 years, but SU Admin staff will need assess your application having regard to the terms of the SU's vehicle insurance cover.

  • To drive the people carrier, you will need to complete a 30 minute online assessment and a 20 minute final debrief - £15 plus VAT (total £18)
  • To drive a minibus, you must do the same and also complete a one-hour on-road assessment and a 20 minute eco-briefing - £48 plus VAT (total £57.60)

If you are taking the assessment in order to become a driver for your society, this may be something that your society agrees to subsidise.

After that, for both vehicles, you will also need to read through the SU's Drivers' Manual and sign an agreement setting out the terms of use of the vehicles

If you want to make an application, complete the Assessment Application Form (you can read and download this here) and bring it to the SU Reception desk along with your photo card driver's licence.

SU Admin staff will then contact you to arrange a date for your assessment.

If you have any questions about this becoming a driver, or would like to book an assessment, please contact su@essex.ac.uk

how can we book a minibus?

All minibus bookings are made online, at www.essexstudent.com/minibus.

If neither the SU people carrier (which seats 9) or the three SU minibuses (which each set 17) are available, it may be possible to hire in an additional minibus at a daily rate of £80 plus VAT (total cost £96) plus fuel.

If you use an SU vehicle there is no hire charge, and fuel is charged at a rate of 50p per mile.

can we create an email address for our society?

The University will not create ‘essex.ac.uk’ emails for societies, so your best option is either to use Facebook or other Messenger services, or to create an email address with a provider such as Hotmail.

how can i get a food hygiene certificate?


Training for the Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate is currently available via the SU Learning & SDkills department.  For details of the next course, please go to www.essexstudent.com/learn/

Are we allowed to screen a film at our event?

All film screenings by societies are subject to licensing requirements, meaning that a Performance Licence must be purchased by the SU on behalf of the society for each film screening it organises.

The approximate cost of a Performance Licence is £80.00 - £100.00, but please bear in mind that this can vary.  Additionally, societies should be aware that licences are not always available to purchase, either for legal or commercial reasons, and this is not something that the SU has any control over.

If your society wishes to hold a film screening you should provide a minimum of three weeks' notice - more if you wish to use Cine 10 - and send full details of the film you want to screen to susocs@essex.ac.uk.

how can I complain about a society?

Every society is governed by its own Constitution and Code of Conduct, which should be made available to all members, and also by the Societies Guild Constitution and Societies Guild Code of Conduct.


If you wish to make a complaint about a society or any of its members or officer, please contact the Societies Department via email at susocs@essex.ac.uk with a brief description of the issue, and we will help you to find the best way to proceed.

Alternatively, you may wish to contact the Students’ Union directly via our SU React facility.

 

Can we hold a BBQ by the Lakes?

Not a problem - you just need to book a barbecue from the Estates Department.

This cannot be done online at the moment, so you will need to download and print the BBQ Booking Form here then print it out, complete it, and hand it in at the Estates Help Desk.

Food hygiene regulations will also apply, so make sure you comply with them - see elsewhere on this page for more information  You'll also need to complete a Food Agreement Form, which you can read and download here.

how to we hand over from one committee to another?

Handover meetings are an important part of the planning process for new executive committees because they allow you to access the knowledge and experience gained in previous years, and make informed decisions about the strategic direction of your society.

The Societies Handover Form contains suggestions about the topics that might usefully be covered at the meeting, and is a also a document which the SU Societies Team requires both Presidents to sign before returning it to us for our records.  You can read and download the Societies Handover Form here.  

We recommend that the two committees also reflect on  the different activities and events that have taken place during the year, and we have created a Societies Initial Planning Form to assist you in talking through and recording your thoughts about this.  You can read and downloaded the Initial Planning Form here.

when do societies need to hold elections?

All executive committee members must have been elected to that position, unless they are members of the first executive committee of a newly ratified society, so whenever societies want to add a position or a person to their committee, an open election must be held.

Societies must have three individuals each seperately fulfilling the roles of president, treasurer and secretary at all times, so if either of these individuals resigns you must immediately hold an election to replace them.

If any other member of the executive committee resigns, you should hold an election to replace them within three term-time weeks unless a decision is made to leave the position vacant. You must not replace them without holding an election.

If you want to create a new position, again you must hold an election.  This can be done at any point of the year.

In addition, an annual elections of the whole executive committee for the following year must be held during the second term, usually in March.

If you want to hold an election, please contact your SU Sociteis Team on susocs@essex.ac.uk.

how do I buy something for my society?

The easiest way to buy something for your society is to pay for it yourself and then claim back the money. (See 'How do I make an expenses claim?')

Just remember to ask for and keep any receipts, and to attach these to your expenses claim form before your Treasurer signs it.

If you need to spend a lot of money, then the SU can assist by paying on invoice, or by using an SU charge card.

With an invoice, the supplier of the goods or services sends us a statement of the amount of money that is due to them, which the SU then pays to them from your account, by bank transfer.  

*Invoices must be addressed to the University of Essex Student’s Union, and not to the University of Essex or to your society.*

If the supplier is an individual - like a student DJ - and does not know how to set out an invoice, please contact the SU Societies Team on susocs@essex.ac.uk, as we have a template that they can use.

Invoices are processed each Wednesday morning, so you need to hand your invoice in to the Societies Department on a Tuesday if you want it paid by the following Friday.

Charge card payments will only be considered where there is no practical alternative, as they involve quite a lot of internal administration for both the Team and the Finance Office.

how do we apply for societies guild funding?

The system for Societies Guild funding changed tjhis year, so that societies will need to apply for funding for specific items of expenditure incurred at specific times and for specific purposes.

This change was introduced in order to make more funding available to more societies by reducing the number of times funding is applied for and then not used, and also to help societies plan their events, trips etc. more accurately.

Applications for Societies Guild funding must be made using this  online Typeform:

https://essexsu.typeform.com/to/Qv4xBI

Before making your application, please make sure that you have read, and are aware of the following important points:

  • You cannot apply for funding until you have budgeted to spend all of the membership money you are projected to receive this year.  (This information is on the front page of your approved budget, which has now been returned to you.)
  • Applications do not need to be made by a certain date – you can apply at any time, but allow for at least three weeks before you need the money.
  • You will need to provide a good amount of detail in your application - what the funding will be used for, how it will help you fulfil your aims and  objectives as a society (with reference to your constitution), and how you have calculated the costs involved.  If you do not have all the infomation when you want to apply, please wait until you do, as applications containing insufficient information will need to be re-submitted.
  •  You will need to make separate applications for separate items of expenditure.
  • Decisions about funding will be made by the Societies Guild Treasurer and Committee, so bear in mind that the more your use of the funding benefits the Guild as a whole, the more likely your application is to succeed.

how do our accounts and finances work?

The President and Treasurer of a society are responsible for its finances - and this includes filling in budget application forms, paying fundraising income into the society’s account, and signing expense claims.

They both receive an automated finance report every week stating the current balance of the society’s accounts, and listing all transactions.

Society accounts contain two seperate funds:  one for membership income (known as the Budgeted Fund) and another for money carried over from the previous year and added to by fund raising (known as the Non- Budgeted Fund).

Because the money in the Budgeted Fund has been paid to the soceity by its current memebrs, it may only be spent on matters that relate to the core aims and objectives of the society. To make sure his happens, if a society want to spend this moeny the expenditure maust be approved in advance by the SU Societies Team.  This is the purpose of the budget application process.

Money in the Non-Budgeted Fund can be spent in any way the President and Treasurer feel is appropriate, so long as the expenditure benefits all members of the society.

No society is permitted to hold or deal with money outside their authorised account, which is an account administered by the University of Essex Student’s Union. To do so is a serious breach of the Students’ Union’s financial regulations.

This means that all money raised by or on behalf of a society - including donations or collections from members - must be paid immediately into the society's Non-Budgeted Fund.

Please search for 'training' to view or download training materials recently delivered by the Team that may help to answer more of your questions.