The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Recognition for Bristol SU's best student groups 

The Balloon Accreditation Scheme is Bristol SU's way of recognising and celebrating the brilliant things that our student groups get up to. Whether you are a Sports Club, a Society or a Volunteer Group, our scheme helps you offer the best possible experience for your members and supporters.

Why take part?

Graphic of person with heart above their head

Recruit more members

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Strengthen your committee

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Grow your reputation

How does it all work?

The scheme runs from 1st May 2020 - 30th April 2021.

Any student group affiliated to Bristol SU can take part. Your group can achieve gold, silver or bronze accreditation. 

  • Simply submit evidence for the criteria your group has met
  • Wait for your evidence to be approved by staff
  • Instantly track your group's progress using the table below

There are 18 criteria in total. Your group must complete:

  • Any 9 from the list to receive bronze,
  • 12 to receive silver, and
  • 15 to receive gold.

The scheme is now closed for 2020/21. We'll be announcing details of the 2021/22 scheme in September.

Submit Evidence

You can submit evidence in any format (including hyperlinks, photos and videos, and documents), as long as it clearly shows how your group has met the criteria – you can include a short explanation on the form if needed. If your evidence submission doesn't meet our requirements, it will be rejected and you'll need to resubmit it. 

For categories that have multiple parts (e.g. 'host two fundraising sessions') you should try to submit all parts at the same time.

If you have any questions or feedback on the scheme, please email the Development Team (


Click me to see the criteria

1) Have an up-to-date Bristol SU website presence and have members listed with Bristol SU

You should view your Bristol SU webpage as your groups shop window. It’s the first place new students will go to when looking for information and as such should promote your group in a positive light. We’d highly recommend having your page up-to-date by Welcome Week at the latest.

  • Your group's page should include:
    • A description of your group and its activities,
    • Contact details including a dedicated contact for interested or new members,
    • A logo,
    • Membership details/prices,
    • Links to other pages, social media or websites (if appropriate), and
    • Photos or videos (if appropriate).
  • Members should be able to join the group via your webpage (unless previously arranged with Bristol SU).
  • Instructions on how to edit your webpage and setting up memberships can be found on our Attracting Members page.



2) Submit a three-year strategic plan and book a Development Meeting to discuss it

Strategic Planning for Student Groups is more important than ever. With the uncertainty COVID-19 has presented to all our groups, it is important to have a robust plan in place for the year. A strategic plan helps to focus the energy, time and resources of everyone in your committee in the same direction.

This criterion can only be submitted in Term 1.

  • Your plan should include information on membership, finances, alumni engagement, resources and handover. A template strategic plan and further guidance can be found on our Start Your Year page.
  • Plans written by previous committees can be submitted but you must show how you have updated and amended it.
  • Your plan should include details on the impact COVID-19 has had on your group and changes you will need to make for the upcoming year.
  • Book a Development Meeting.



3) Submit an annual budget and explain how you will use or have used it to inform your activities this year

A robust budget is an essential document that all groups should have and use throughout the year. This year in particular, groups will need to plan for the impact COVID-19 may have and a potential loss of membership due to cancelled events and lower membership numbers.

This criterion can only be submitted in Term 1.

  • An annual budget template and guidance can be found on our Finances and Grants page.
  • You must include some contextual information about your budget and how it is being used.



4) Secure a source of external funding for your group

This criterion is all about sourcing external funding to help you run your activities and giving your members the best possible opportunities and experience. You could:

  • Secure a sponsor or renew an existing sponsorship contract for your group.


  • Secure a grant from an external provider.
    • Grants are non-repayable funds given by one party to another for a particular purpose.
    • Grants funded by Bristol SU do not count (Group Grants, Volunteering Grants).
    • Grants funded by the University do not count (Alumni Foundation, Departmental Grants).
    • Help to find and secure grants:



5) Collect feedback from your members and evidence how you have taken their feedback into account

Getting regular membership feedback is an important part of running a successful group. Your members can tell you what events are working, what they want to see more of and how you can improve the member experience. You might think about:

    • An equality and diversity survey.
    • Event feedback.
    • Sourcing ideas for future events and meetings.
    • A member satisfaction survey.
  • You should evidence the feedback collected along with an action plan on how you will act on the feedback you have received.
  • Submissions for the Bristol SU Rate My Group survey do not count towards this criterion.



6) Collaborate with at least one other affiliated Bristol SU student group or Network

Collaborating with another student group can be hugely beneficial to both the committee involved and the wider membership. You get to practice teamwork and negotiating skills, enhance your groups exposure and (hopefully!) gain some new members! You could:

    • Hold a joint event or run a joint campaign.
    • Share skills by running taster sessions for each other’s activities.
    • Create a network or forum with groups who share similar aims and activities and meet regularly.

You could contact groups directly by finding them on our website or you could join the Facebook groups below and start a conversation about collaborations:

  • You must evidence a significant contribution made by both/all groups involved. This should include things like email correspondence, a project plan or minutes from meetings.
  • You must be able to evidence how your activity is collaborative.
  • Joint socials (i.e. going out with another group) do not count towards this criterion.
  • Attending an event / activity run by another group does not count.



7) Collaborate with an external group, charity or organisation

Working with an external partner is a great way to get your name out into the wider community and can provide excellent opportunities for you members. You could:

    • Run an activity with a local charity.
    • Organise a Varsity event.
    • Work with a local sports club.
    • Work with a local business to run an event for your members.
  • External groups, charities and organisations are those not affiliated to Bristol SU or the University of Bristol.
  • There must be evidence of a significant contribution made by both/all parties involved. This should include things like email correspondence, a project plan or minutes from meetings.
  • You must be able to evidence how your activity is collaborative.
  • Student groups that are linked to an external charity or organisation should collaborate with a different partner to qualify.



8) Attend at least five non-compulsory training sessions (run by Bristol SU, SEH, Bristol HUB or another partner)

We provide training and support throughout the year on a variety of topics to help student group leaders develop new skills and build memorable experiences for their members.

Bristol SU training sessions can be found on our Training Calendar.

  • Training sessions can be attended in-person or online but must include a live element (i.e. you can't just watch re-plays of past sessions).
  • Committee Fest sessions attended count.
  • Any member of your committee can attend sessions.
  • All sessions evidenced should be different.
  • Email confirmations, screenshots or photos from the session all count as evidence.
  • Please try to submit for this criterion in one go (i.e. when you have attended 5 sessions).



9) Run a Give it a Go session at least once before and after Christmas aimed at attracting new members

Give it a Go provides a fun and friendly way for new students to get involved with Clubs, Societies and Volunteering Projects, allowing them to ‘road test’ groups before committing to membership.

We encourage all groups to get involved in this scheme, regardless of your core activities.

  • Taster sessions should be suitable for beginners and aimed at new members.
  • Sessions should be organised under Give it a Go! branding and bookable via the SU Website.
  • Sessions can take place online or face-to-face (in line with current government or University guidelines around social distancing).
  • Please state how many new members attended your session.



10) Represent your group at 3 or more democratic events

  • Democratic events include Student Council, AMM and Network forums. Presidents and Captains are voting members at these events but may send a deputy from their committee instead.
  • Accepted evidence includes confirmation booking emails, pictures from the event or social media engagement.
  • Recognised student group forums also count (PAF, MAF, Student Media Group). Please speak to a member of the Development Team for advice on setting these up.
  • Please try to submit for this criterion in one go (i.e. when you have attended 3 events).



11) Hold at least two alcohol-free social events per term

More students are drinking less and less, and many don’t drink at all, and their reasons for doing so are as personal as the individual. Student groups that have a solid roster of sober socials are taking a great step to being fully-inclusive to all.

  • Two socials should be in TB1 and two in TB2.
  • Alcohol-free socials must take place in a venue where alcohol is not served or being drunk at any point.
  • Social events must be advertised to members as being alcohol-free and evidence of this must be submitted.
  • Events can take place online. Take a look at our 101 Online Events for ideas.
  • Social events should not be attached to a core group activity (e.g. networking after a talk).
  • Please try to submit for this criterion in one go (i.e. when you have hosted all sober socials).



12) Organise two fundraising initiatives (either for your own group or a charity)

Many groups have been holding fundraisers with their members over the summer in aid of local charities affected by COVID-19. You may also be thinking about your own groups funds and organising an event to help with a difficult year. You might consider:

  • Member Challenges (e.g. Strava, step challenges).
  • Setting up a GoFundMe page.
  • Collaborating with a local charity.
  • Running an event with Bristol RAG. have a pretty extensive A-Z list of student fundraiser ideas of student fundraiser ideas.

  • Please note that any money raised for other charities must be processed through the Bristol RAG account in order to meet legal requirements. To do this:
    • Make sure the raised money is in your SU Bank Account.
    • Email Student Services –
    • Ask them to arrange a transfer of funds from your account via the RAG account to your chosen charity.
    • You will need to know your chosen charity’s bank account details.



13) Show how you have taken steps this year to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within your group

Student lead societies are often the best placed to offer bespoke and distinctive social networks for E&D to thrive. For groups wanting to work on their EDI we have designed the Equalities Action Plan Toolkit as a first step (this should not be your only evidence submitted).

  • This should be evidenced through the submission of an Equalities Action Plan and review.
  • There should be clear evidence on how the group has taken extra steps this academic year.



14) Show that your group has enabled and encouraged members to partake in work to enrich the cultural or physical environments around you.

We know that many of our groups want to do more to care for the environment or volunteer with the local community. This criterion recognises those groups who go out of their way to do something more and enable their members to do something positive. As a group you could:

    • Get involved with a Bristol SU Volunteering project.
    • Engage in raising awareness around the Climate Emergency.
    • Volunteer with local schools or community groups.
  • Your evidence should show how your actions have made a clear impact.
  • You should show evidence of how you have completed this criterion as a group, not as individuals.
  • Bristol SU Volunteering Projects should partake in an activity different to their core aims.



15) Show how your group has offered skills, training, or schemes that improve members employability prospects or impart valuable transferable skills

Being part of a student group is a great way to enhance employability skills and this criterion recognises groups who go out of their way to provide these opportunities for members. Your group could:

  • Your evidence should show how your actions have made a clear impact.
  • You should show evidence of how you have completed this criterion as a group, not as individuals.
  • Evidence should be collected throughout the year and presented.



16) Achieve a 90% or higher member satisfaction score in the Rate My Group survey

  • Bristol SU runs the Rate My Group survey every spring.
  • Groups must receive a minimum of 10 responses in order to receive a qualifying satisfaction score.
  • It is the committee's responsibility to promote the survey to the group's members.



17) Plan for a successful Handover

Your Handover is literally the handing over of the running of your student group to the new committee. Handover time gives outgoing committees the chance to reflect on the achievements of your group and to share essential information and useful hints and tips with the incoming committee. A robust handover plan is essential to ensure the continuation of your group into the future.



18) Plan and host an Annual General Meeting (AGM) and hold contested elections for core committee positions

You must give all your members a chance to attend an AGM to hear about how your group has developed over the year, what the financial status of the group is and to vote for a new committee.

  • Core committee positions are:
    • President/Club Captain/Project Coordinator
    • Treasurer
    • Secretary
    • Equality Officer (can be doubled-up with another role if necessary)
  • A contested election is an election in which more than one candidate stands for the position and voters have a choice about whom to elect. This does not include an option to RON (Re-Open Nominations).
  • Elections should run in conjunction with AGM and be completed by the end of May
  • If preferable, you can host your AGM online. Online AGM guidance can be found on our End Your Year page.
  • You should evidence minutes from your AGM which clearly show your voting process and results.


Whilst the biggest benefit of taking part in the scheme is a better run group, rewards are offered to those who gain accreditation.

Gold Winners

  • Celebrated during Awards Season
  • Inclusion in Welcome marketing campaign
  • Inclusion in Refreshers marketing campaign 
  • Exclusive access to Lunch & Learn marketing classes on copywriting, videography and other tips and tricks
  • Special consideration in our means-tested process for room bookings
  • Special consideration for Welcome Fair and Refreshers Fair stall allocations
  • Digital Kitemark and certificate

Silver Winners

  • Special consideration in our means-tested process for room bookings
  • Digital Kitemark and certificate

 Bronze Winners  

  • Digital Kitemark and certificate 


Track Your Progress

Once you have submitted evidence, the table below will update automatically.

🕐  Pending approval
✔️  Approved
❌  Rejected
❕  Partially complete