Student Engagement

Operations Manual

Operations Manual

Organizations are required to have an acknowledged Operations Manual to maintain recognition with the university. This document is not a duplication of the constitution. Operations Manuals serve to aid in the transition from one leadership group to the next and serve as a more detailed account of the day-to-day operations of the organization. An operations manual provides detailed documentation of how your student organization functions.

Follow these guidelines in creating an Operations Manual for your student/campus organization. Once complete, upload your operations manual to the Student Organization Database under "Operations Manual."


An operations manual provides detailed documentation of how your student organization functions. If written correctly, it should guide someone unfamiliar with your group through the day-to-day procedures for operating your club. Every operations manual is different. There's no exact formula to follow. You'll want to create one that essentially maps out exactly how things get done in your specific club. Start with your student organization's purpose and list any goals or values that you seek to communicate. Include an organizational chart that lists officer duties and positions. Then, categorize material. Often, your club’s information can be entered into a Preamble and five basic sections: 



  • State your student organization's purpose, goals, or values that you seek to communicate.
  • Include an organizational chart that lists officer duties and positions


Section One: Meetings & Travel

  1. Meeting Schedule  
    • How often does your club meet?
    • When/where do you meet?
    • Is this location on or off-campus?
    • Who reserves meeting space?  When does space need to be reserved?
    • Do you hold general meetings and executive cabinet meetings?
    • What is your meeting schedule for the current academic year?
  2. Travel  
    • Does your organization travel?  If so, how often does your organization travel?   
    • Are club members traveling in university vehicles, personal vehicles, or rented/chartered vehicles?   
    • Does the club enter its travel itinerary into the Student Organization Travel Authorization System? List all travel locations along with the purpose of your travel). 


Section Two: Equipment & Emergency Protocols

  1. Equipment  
    • What equipment does the club own?   
    • Where is the equipment stored?   
    • Does the club rent any additional equipment?  If so, from what entity?   
    • Which club officer is responsible for checking and ensuring the safety of club equipment?   
    • Does any club equipment require routine maintenance?  If so, how often?   
    • Are all club members required to use the club’s equipment or are they allowed to bring their own? If allowed to bring their own, who is responsible for ensuring the safety of that equipment?  
    • Include a recent inventory of equipment that lists items and conditions.
  2. Emergency Protocols  
    • What are the inherent risks associated with participating in club activities?   
    • Do club members need to sign participation agreements/liability waivers?   
    • In the event of an injury or emergency who will the club contact?   
    • Does the club have emergency contact information on file for each member?   
    • Is the club’s emergency protocol different if an injury happens off campus or out of state?   
    • What officer position is responsible for risk management? What are those duties? 


Section Three: Finances & Fundraising

  1. Finances
    • Does the club receive funding from a college or university department?   
    • Does the club receive funding from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate or Student Government?    
    • What is the deadline for requesting funding?   
    • Which club officer is responsible for initiating that request?   
    • Which club officer is responsible for preparing the club’s annual budget?   
    • Is the club’s budget approved by the general members?   
    • What cash handling procedures does the club have in place?   
    • Who is responsible for collecting monies and making deposits on behalf of the club?   
    • Does your club have a bank account?  If so, where is your account?   
    • Does the club contract with outside vendors? Student Organizations should consult with Student Engagement, prior to signing any binding contracts. 
  2. Fundraising  
    • Does your club engage in annual fundraising activities? If so, describe each of your fundraisers.   
    • Are you soliciting funds or items from local businesses?   
    • Who are your contacts within each of those businesses?   
    • Is your club sponsored by a third party or multiple third parties? If so, list all club sponsors. Be sure to check with the ISU Foundation to ensure that you aren’t targeting the same businesses in your fundraising efforts and to check with Student Engagement prior to finalizing any sponsorship agreements.   


Section Four: Annual Activities, Marketing & Records Management

  1. Annual Activities 
    • What activities does your club participate in?   
    • Are there any that you host?   
    • What logistics go into hosting your event?   
    • Who are the key contacts?  When should the organization contact them?   
    • What internal or external approvals are necessary?   
    • How does your club collect payment or registration?  
    • Do you submit club activities to the Event Authorization Committee for approval?  If so, which club officer is responsible for EAC submission? 
  2. Marketing
    • How does your club market its activities and events?
    • Do you utilize social media?  What social media platforms are your club on?
    • Do you have a web presence?
    • What is your website? (Unless your club has an exception, student organizations are not allowed to have websites that are not hosted on the Iowa State University domain.)
    • Do you post flyers? If so, where do you post flyers? Who prints your flyers? What is the process you use for posting flyers on campus?
    • Do you publish a newsletter, newspaper, or magazine?  If so, what are your listservs, mailing lists, deadlines, publishing dates, printing schedules, and distribution locations? 
  3. Records Management
    • What records does your organization create, receive, or have?
    • Who creates and manages those records?
    • How are your organization’s records organized and stored?
    • Would you like to donate your records annually to Special Collections and University Archives to preserve and share your organization’s history?


Section Five: Adviser/Coach & Affiliation

  1. Adviser/Coach
    • How often does your club meet with its adviser/coach?   
    • What are your adviser/coaches’ duties?    
    • What are your adviser/coaches’ qualifications?   
    • How does the club go about selecting a new adviser or coach?   
    • Is your adviser/coach knowledgeable in the area, sport, or discipline related to your organization?   
    • Does your adviser attend club meetings or attend executive cabinet meetings?   
    • The adviser/coach is integral to the success of every student organization. Because student leaders graduate, the club’s adviser/coach helps to provide continuity, teach new skills, and can help mentor student leaders. 
  2. Affiliation  
    • Is your club affiliated with a college or department at Iowa State University?
    • Is your club affiliated with a non-ISU governing body?
    • Is your organization a current member of a regional, national or governing body? If so, will members be asked to pay a separate membership fee, to join? Remember to list all affiliations and provide a link to their website if they are external to Iowa State University.



  • Add any other important information or sections you would like future organization leadership to know about.

Related Pages to Consider:

Confidentiality and Regulation of Material
Constitution Guidelines
Leadership and Service Center
Recognition Appeals
Risk Management
Student Organization Database

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