By Zakia Williams
VCU Multimedia Journalism Masters Program
When it comes to requesting funds from the Student Government Association, chairman of appropriations for the Monroe Park Campus SGA, Eliano Younes, said it’s all about documentation, documentation, documentation.
“And that’s the major difference between groups who get 75 percent of their budget request and groups that get maybe 10, 12 percent is whether or not they provide documentation,” Younes said.
But there’s another obvious factor to receiving a greater amount – the less money an organization request, the more they seemed to receive.
According to the SGA Annual Funding Hearing Results of the 157 student organizations awarded funding, four groups who requested the least landed in the top 10 that received the most. Those organizations, American Institute of Graphic Arts, German Club, National Alliance of Mental Illness, and Swing Dance at VCU each requested less than $2,500 and received more than 80 percent. Younes said the correlation didn’t surprise him.
“Groups that ask for a little bit of money normally are more realistic with what they’re asking for,” Younes said.
Overall, almost half of the 157 organizations awarded funds received 50 percent or more beyond their request. Of those 82 groups, nearly a third asked for less than $5,000. On the contrary, the Monroe Park Campus SGA was the only one of 10 groups requesting the most to receive more than 35 percent. The Appropriations Committee awarded the group 76 percent of their $64,850 request.
According to the Monroe Park Campus SGA bylaws, any group that asks for more than $500 has to show documentation. Younes said groups seeking less have an advantage because they do not have to go through the hassle of showing quotes for everything they request.
“Honestly, there are a lot of rules in the bylaws that people just have to know,” Younes said. “If they can know those rules and apply it to their budget then they can really come out with a lot of money.”
The Appropriations Committee allocates 34 percent of the Student Activity Fee on the Monroe Park Campus to the SGA, sub-committees (Greek organizations, sports organizations, and the Graduate School Association), SGA Joint Committee, and other eligible registered student organizations.
While Younes said the Appropriations Committee works diligently at trying to accommodate the needs of every organization, some individuals like David Belton, a historian for the Student Admission Ambassadors, weren’t too pleased with the SGA efforts.
“What I’m so mad about is that we work for the college. Our job is so important because we’re the first contact people have when they come to college,” Belton said. “And I just feel like, why can’t you give us enough money?”
Student Admission Ambassadors ranked 92 out of the 157 organizations SGA awarded funds. Although they requested $5,005, they received 46 percent.
Other individuals like Casey Collier, a member of the Disciples on Campus, spoke more favorably about the money her organization received. Out of $3,090 the Disciples on Campus requested, they received 83 percent. Collier said one of the things that may have worked in their favor is that they usually don’t ask for much.
“We’re used to being able to fund our own things through bake sales, community works through our congregation and we don’t really go to the school for money very often,” Collier said.
Younes added fundraising is a major plus for organizations, especially since the growing number of student organizations is posing a challenge for the Appropriations Committee to provide adequate funding.
“We’re getting 1.2 million dollars in request and we were only able to give $500,000 last year,” Younes said. “If you really want to take your group to the next level you have to fundraise.”
While many indicators play a role on how much each organization receives, a clear message echoed from the 2010-2011 SGA Annual Funding Hearing Results: Be realistic in your requests and always have proper documentation to back up your request.
The data for this story derives from the 2010-2011 SGA Annual Funding Hearing Results pdf data. The information was transferred onto an Excel sheet, so that certain classifications could be sorted and ranked in order to find a correlation on which factors contributes to an organization receiving the most funds from the Monroe Park Campus SGA.