New funding guidelines for student organizations

SA announced big changes to the funding process that they believe will serve students’ best interests.

Student organizations will experience a new funding process in the coming months. While the start date of this new funding is undetermined as of yet, the new process hopes to make students’ lives easier and ensure events always get funding.

According to Amelia Som de Cerff, an SA member who was on this committee, student organizations will be guaranteed $1,000 of funding, with the ability to get more money if needed. While this may seem like a decrease from the current $6,000 guarantee, SA doesn’t actually have enough money in its budget if every club were to use their allotment; instead, they currently rely on the fact that about half of the organizations don’t ask for money; some spend around $1,000, and the rest who spend over $1,000 tend to spend over $6,000.

At the beginning of each semester, each organization will submit an Organization Strategic Plan (OSP). This plan will include the complete budget, with all the activities for the semester, the purpose of these activities, and an advertising plan for these activities. SA Senate will then evaluate the OSP, with three senators looking at each OSP and not reviewing an OSP they are also a member of.

With the new guidelines, each organization will be evaluated by three tiers. Tier one programming are larger events that bring together a large number of students, enhance the community, reputation or tradition or club sport competitions and conference travel. Tier two programming are more limited in scope and interest, such as philanthropy dinners, lecture series or special interest programming. Tier three programming is designed for current organization members, like weekly meetings, apparel or organizational equipment. Tier one programming has highest priority, but Som de Cerff said this will only be used as a factor if SA starts running low on funds and needs to decide what to fund outside of the guaranteed $1,000 for each organization.

After reviewing and placing each organization, a Strategic Financial Planning Committee (SFPC) will determine the funding that will be awarded to each organization. Once the budget is approved, the funding will go directly into the organization’s account. This, SA hopes, will remove students paying for events out of pocket and hoping for reimbursement. Students will still have to submit receipts and attendance numbers, but these will factor into future funding. If there is gross misrepresentation or misuse of funds, all money received will be immediately returned to SA. Unused funds will not roll over into the next year.

Organizations will also have $200 to spend on non-consumables.

Som de Cerff said this new process may help “encourage more intentional programming,” as events will be planned out early in advance.

Club sports will benefit from the change. Previously, the cap on travel funding was $3,000 out of the $6,000 budget, and for club sports, travel is most, if not all, of their spending. Coriolis Force, the ultimate Frisbee team on campus, ran into this problem during the year; they reached their travel cap but not their budget cap. These new guidelines do not set a limit on travel funding for club sports but do for academic or leadership conferences. Conferences of this nature tend to be more expensive than club sports and also generally have additional ways of receiving money, such as department grants.

Som de Cerff hoped the change will move SA senators from being “gatekeepers to more of stewards” of the money. Students will not be required to defend their budget before SA meetings as in years past. The system “more accurately reflects how we already give out funds,” Som de Cerff said, but has been rewritten as to make it less complex and punishing than the current system.

If an organization decides to host an event during the year that wasn’t initially planned for, they’ll have to explain the need for it and its budget, but will most likely receive funding, unless SA is struggling with funds. SA does plan to help student organizations as these new guidelines are enacted. A mock budget will be released, and Som de Cerff said they expect some bumps along the road as students get used to the new system, but SA believes it will work in the students’ best interests.

4/19/18 Correction

“I’d like to offer one critical correction. One of the first statements in the article is that organizations will receive a guaranteed $1000 of funding. This $1000 is not something that is automatically dropped into student organizations accounts and will still be allocated according to SA guidelines and policies included in the newly passed document, which has been attached to this email for reference. Organizations will still be required to submit an OSP and go through the review process. It’s very important in this process that leaders in organizations take the time to think through their planned programming for the semester and thoroughly budget to the best of their ability beforehand, as they’ll be asked to only request funding for what they will spend since funding will be allocated on a percentage basis across all organizations based on how much they request. If organizations try to ask for more funding than they anticipate they will spend, this will result in everyone across the board getting a smaller percentage of what they requested. Organizations will still be required to use the university’s Concur system for reimbursements and will require approval from SA for receipts submitted for reimbursement.

Although this plan does guarantee organizations up to $1000, there’s still processes to receive this funding and it still must go through Senate approval. However, the revamp of the process is intended to alleviate stress on organizations who often have to front the cost of their events from their personal accounts, unbeknownst to them if they will receive that money back from SA. Students within organizations will now know to a great extent the amount of funding they will receive on the front end, such that if they plan an event in November, all they have to do is submit a reimbursement request, knowing that the funding has already been allocated. At the same time, we hope that this will encourage organizations to thoroughly think through their planned programming and consider how it connects with their org’s purpose and how it will impact the greater TU community.”

Post Author: Michaela Flonard