By Greyson Scudder
The Student Body Administration is changing the way that money is allocated for all student organizations, starting this semester.
In the past, SBA has handed out budgets based on need expressed by student organizations at the beginning of the semester, which left money unused by many of the groups, or resulted in a rush to spend the remaining budget in the final days of the semester.
“In the past, we have seen that organizations with large budgets don’t spend nearly even half of it,” Lise Caspersen, SBA treasurer, said.
Will Takewell, director of Office of Student Life and faculty advisor to the SBA, explained the new allocation system by saying that the idea is to spend the entirety of an organizations’ budget every year, ending up with a balance of zero. This is referred to as “a zero-based budget model.” However, even if the money is not spent, it is absorbed back into the college fund.
This means that the budget that SBA is given for each year no longer rolls over if it is not fully spent. In previous years, any money that organizations or SBA itself did not spend was retained by SBA and used in a different way, such as buying more color printers, the example Caspersen used. This is no longer the case, however: as of this spring, SBA no longer receives any unused funding from their budget.
“You have to spend what you have been allocated for the year, or you lose it.” said Takewell.
Rather than receiving a budget upfront with little to no restrictions, organizations now must apply for each event they want to put on, but they must do so in advance, and plan them to know exactly how much money they will need per event. Caspersen notes that this will not limit the organizations, as there will be no restrictions on how many events they can have, but only ensure that the money they are allocated is all being spent. There also is no deadline to apply for funding, but the new allocation system is first come, first serve.
“We’re trying to convince people to get into the mindset of planning a month in advance, at least, on everything, especially if you do want to secure funding,” he said.
This new allocation system affects all student organizations, including FCA, BOBA and JCO, requiring them to plan forward for their events. “It definitely required more communication,” said Brennan Gagen, Vice President of FCA, and among the first of the organizations to apply for funding. However, Gagen also spoke to the efficiency of the new allocation system, saying that it made him decide what dates, events and materials he needed further in advance.
SBA’s budget also has not changed in size, Takewell said, and there is enough funding for everything from putting on events, or travelling to conferences. Nothing has changed from how much money an organization can be allocated.
Caspersen points out that the change in budget will open up opportunities as well, such as giving SBA the ability to give out travel grants for student groups to participate in conferences as well.
Despite the difference in how money will be given to student organizations, both Takewell and Caspersen are assured that this will only improve the quality of events for those organizations and overall student life on campus.
“We’re trying to get into the habit of changing the culture around student organizations,” said Takewell.
Caspersen encourages anyone to ask her if they have any budgetary questions or concerns. Below are included the instructions for applying for funding:
Please follow these steps in order to apply for funding for organizations, honorary organizations, and student travel funds, which can also be found on the SBA Facebook page:
1. The organization must be registered, if it is not: email Jessica Fitzpatrick firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdBMneA8oMv4yreO9lbd_z8Aku9TtTZaefjRd0OTxyxwY9-WA/viewform
3. Meet with the SBA finance committee and be prepared to discuss what exactly the organization will use the budget for and the dates of the events the budget will be needed (note that more detailed requests normally receive more money).
4. The finance committee will make a recommendation to the senate and the senate will vote on the recommendation. You might be asked to come to senate in order to answer questions from the senators.
5. The organization’s leaders and the organization’s advisor will be notified of the amount given to the organization.
6. If the organization needs more funding throughout the semester they can repeat steps 2-5.
Please contact Treasurer Lise Caspersen at email@example.com if you have any questions regarding these new procedures.