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How to become club secretary

14 Feb 2024

To become club Secretary is really easy. Simply say the words “I’m thinking about becoming Secretary of my club” and BOOM! before you know it, you are the Secretary. Alternatively, you might attend an Annual General Meeting with no intention of joining the committee. However, no one put their hand up, and you drive home the new secretary of your sports club.

The formal process for a club Secretary will be in your club rules/constitution. Generally, each year at the Annual General Meeting committee members and office holders of the club are elected. It is becoming very rare for there to be elections for office holders but be aware that this is what will happen if two people run for Secretary.

Your club rules/constitution may have a nomination process which you need to follow. The best place to start when thinking about becoming club Secretary is to read the club rules/constitution.
Once you understand the formal process of election, then what you do next depends upon why you have decided to run. Think about the situation the club finds itself that has caused you to put your hand up for Secretary.

The current Secretary is standing aside

This is the most common situation. The current Secretary has given notice that they will not continue in the role next year. In this situation, the best scenario is for an orderly handover. Once you have decided to run for Secretary, talk to the current Secretary about the role. It is best that you find out exactly what the role entails, and if anybody else has expressed interest in the role.
If nobody else expresses interest in the role, you will still need to be formally appointed at the AGM. You can start to work with the current Secretary at any time in order to get as much information as possible before you take over.

The current Secretary wishes to be re-elected

If the current Secretary has decided they wish to continue in the role, and you have decided that you would be a better option, then this creates an interesting situation. The reality is that both the current Secretary and those seeking election would nominate for the committee and/or the Secretary’s role as per the rules of the club. Members would then vote on who the next club Secretary will be.

The challenge then becomes the election process. How do you go about getting more votes than the other nominees? Another interesting question often asked is when do we let the current Secretary know of our “challenge”?

Our responses to both these questions is that you are not in politics. Your role is to act in the best interests of the club and its members. The less politics the better. We recommend talking to the existing Secretary as early as possible. Mention any concerns you have and your reasons for considering taking over the role. Often you will be surprised to learn what the Secretary is going through. With a little help and support, you can often resolve the issues pretty easily.

After this discussion, if you decide to continue and seek election then make sure everything you do from this point on is respectful to the club, the members, the current committee and Secretary. Remember after the election, regardless of the result the club needs to come together and continue into the future.

Make sure that in any campaigning that you do for the role, that your focus is on the future, your vision for the club and what you bring to the role of Secretary. Give the members a clear choice. There is no need to get personal in the election campaign, it is about vision and ability and not personalities.

Preparing to become Secretary

The perfect scenario is that a couple of years from when you wish to become Secretary, you make it known to the existing Secretary of your desire to be the next club Secretary. Use the time between letting them know and taking over to prepare for the role. Ideally, you will join the committee and potentially be Assistant Secretary so you can get a strong understanding of the role and its requirements before you start.
This is succession planning, and the perfect scenario for the club. Strong and successful clubs develop their next Secretary. They don’t wait for an Annual General Meeting hoping one will magically appear.