Nerf society is a relatively new society, founded in 2013. We grew to over 100 members in 2014 and we now have over 120. This extremely rapid growth was our first major financial challenge, as suddenly our events were four times larger, dwarfing the scope of our initial start-up funds. However, there were larger financial challenges looming.
With just a £5 membership fee, we are easily one of the cheapest Nerf societies around, especially given that we maintain a large stockpile of equipment for our members to use freely, coupled with no fee to attend our weekly events. Because of this low membership fee, we bring in a far smaller revenue than other societies of smaller sizes. Our income from membership fees is quickly whittled down, one the Guild (a charitable organisation, exempt from VAT) has charged us 20 percent VAT on them.
Since the society’s creation, we have had some grants from the Guild. Perhaps the most importance grant was at the creation of the society, allowing us to buy a lot of the equipment we needed up front. We also recently had one approved to take our members to Plymouth for what can only be described as the first ever Nerf Varsity event.
Many societies of similar sixes receive less money from grants, however few have the costs that Nerf society has, with over £1,000 invested in the equipment. These other societies also tend to have higher membership fees, but we feel that low membership fees are really important to students.
Despite fairly generous grants, we have had financial issues, we have had financial issues related to the Guild. In early 2015, over £200 of equipment was stole (half our assets at the time). We lost many of our most expensive and valued blasters simply due to the fact that our provided storage space was insecure and this was compounded by a clerical oversight causing a lack of insurance. We found it extremely hard to come back from this major loss that resulted in many cancelled events, which could have so easily been avoided.
Whilst we understand that many societies (DebSoc, Bracton Law Society etc) have huge membership with modest joining fees, primarily due to their academic and/or professional relevance, Nerf Society is a growing society that can always use more financial support. We’ve had high start-up costs (which the Guild has helped with) but also high running costs, there will always be damage to the equipment, darts to replace, and new things to buy to make the society more fun for everyone.
Ollie Odell, Nerf Society Treasurer