Access: Budget, Fundraising and Space Use
New and continuing clubs receive a club budget of $100 for the academic year (July 1 through June 30). This budget is not rolling and starts fresh at the beginning of each academic year, so that any unused portion goes back into the general operating budget of the student activities fund. Clubs make use of their budgets for everything from snacks at meetings to supplies and equipment for regular club use or for special events. When clubs require additional funding for a given event or initiative, they may submit a written proposal to the Budget and Events Committee in support of their funding request.
Accessing Your Club Budget
Accessing your club budget may be done in one of several ways outlined below.
Reimbursement: The most common method of spending your club budget is to pay for the goods you need out of pocket, and then to submit receipts to the OSE for reimbursement. Turnaround time for a reimbursement is typically five days, so plan ahead if you think you will be needing reimbursement sooner than that. It is important to note that Bennington College is a nonprofit organization, and as such, any purchases made on behalf of Bennington College are eligible for tax-exempt status (that includes club purchases). Not all businesses take tax-exempt cards, but MOST do. If you are planning to shop locally and would like to save a few dollars that might otherwise get tied up in the tax, drop by the Office of Student Engagement for a tax-exempt card, which will void out the tax in your purchase. Please note that any tax you DO pay will come directly out of your club budget, so plan ahead and get the tax-exempt card whenever possible!
College-Issued Check. If you are using your club budget to pay for a guest speaker/performer/lecturer, it is status quo to pay that person via College-issued check. This gives the guest a record of payment that they can track when doing taxes, banking, and so on. If you anticipate needing a check for this reason, contact the OSE at least two (2) weeks prior to the date the event takes place so that we have ample time to have this check cut. Additionally, visiting performers/speakers/clinicians are required by law to complete a Federal W9 form prior to their check being issued. OSE keeps these forms handy and is happy to guide you through this process from start to finish. Email email@example.com if you think you’ll need to have a check cut.
Petty Cash. In rare instances, OSE may provide cash up front for your purchase; however, the Office of Student Life keeps only a small amount of cash on hand at any time and is unlikely to approve a petty cash request unless there are outstanding/extenuating circumstances attached. Receipts for ANY petty cash purchases are required to OSE within 24 hours of purchase, no exceptions. Please contact Matt Scott in OSE directly if you feel one of these circumstances is justified.
Online Purchases. The Student Life Office has a credit card available for online purchases. In addition, the office maintains an account with Amazon Prime that can often help cut costs by offering free, two-day shipping on many items. If you have online purchases to make, please contact Matt Scott in the Office of Student Engagement to set up a time to order these products online together. In addition to convenience, ordering with the engagement credit card is optimal because any receipts required are automatically forwarded to the engagement offices (thus there is nothing you need keep track of/return).
Accessing Additional Club Funding Through The Budget & Events Committee (B&EC)
The Budget and Events Committee
The Budget and Events Committee (B&EC) is a student-led committee advised by the OSE dedicated to providing budgetary and event planning support both to student organizations and students interested in planning events for the Bennington College community. Through the B&EC, clubs and organizations are encouraged to submit written proposals in support of funding those events and activities. In addition, the Budget and Events Committee provides the first round of proposal review prior to the ratification of any new campus club or organization.
B&EC Proposal Guidelines
The Budget and Events Committee meets bi-weekly to review funding proposals, and maintains both an active Facebook page, instagram account, and email account to ensure you can contact someone as efficiently as possible with new proposals and inquiries. As such, the group also maintains a digital submission form and detailed how-to guide on their homepage for your convenience when assembling a new proposal. Access to both documents can be found online on the Student Engagement page on the Bennington website.
B&EC submission deadlines are established at the beginning of each academic term. Please visit the B&EC webpage for proposal timelines this Spring. Please note that proposal submissions are required to hit the Budget and Events Committee email inbox by 5:00 pm the day before a review session takes place. Proposals submitted after this time frame will be rolled over to the next review cycle (two weeks following). Finally, due to the fluctuating volume of received proposals in a given week, please allow up to 72 hours for a response regarding your funding proposal, and up to 10 days for a determination regarding any club and organization.
Fundraising for your Club or Organization
Clubs and organizations looking for sustained long-term financial support for their group are welcomed and encouraged to fundraise in support of a given project or goal. Bake sales, car washes, and other industrious methods have all been employed to help support new and continued initiatives. If you are interested in fundraising either on campus or in the Bennington community, it is strongly advised that you arrange a meeting with the engagement office prior to moving forward.
For all the benefits of fundraising, it is important to recognize that there are restrictions that are mandated both by OSE and Bennington College itself. As a community dedicated to promoting an inclusive atmosphere, asking anyone for money (even through an exchange of goods or other services such as a bake sale) should feel voluntary and reciprocal. That said, keep the following in mind when planning your next fundraising initiative to jumpstart a successful venture:
Do not solicit staff or faculty via email. Staff and faculty email accounts are for official College business only. Unsolicited fundraising emails are strictly prohibited and mandated not only by OSE, but additionally by the Human Resources office. If you have questions or require additional clarity on this, please email Matt Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Be respectful! It goes without saying that while you have only the best of intentions when fundraising, not everyone has the means or interest to participate. Take the time to design a fundraiser that represents your cause honestly and invites participation without being intrusive.
Plan ahead. Being thorough in the planning and execution of your fundraiser not only encourages participation but can also be a morale booster for your club. Consider advertising through College Week, Coffee Hour, an event listing on the student event calendar as well as with posters or flyers. See Section three below for more guidance on event promotion.
Reserve space early. Dependent on the type of fundraiser you are looking to organize, it is common to require the use of a dedicated space or table as a suitable anchor for the event. Because many spaces on campus are reservable on a first-come-first-served basis, it is important to reserve your space early to avoid conflicts the day of. Please refer to "Space Reservations" below for more information on reservation procedure and protocol.
Asset Accounts. Some groups choose to track their funding internally by appointing a club treasurer, while others choose to set up an asset account through the business office to track this income. Deciding whether an asset account is right for your group is simply a matter of personal/group preference. An OSE staff member would be happy to walk you through the process and help weigh the pros and cons of each.
Reserving Campus Spaces for your Club/Org
A fundamental step in event production is deciding upon the physical location you will be inhabiting. Considerations for this location include not only finding a location that provides adequate space for your needs and attendance, but also provides the needed accessibility, proximity to power/electrical outlets, acoustics, and overall ambience. Many campus spaces have the capacity to be reserved for events, functions or your club meetings. In all instances that building's coordinator will have the final approval based upon availability and practicality. Click here for a complete list of available spaces and their coordinator and reservation process. Please note: In instances where a space requires a faculty or staff sponsor for space approval, OSE is happy to serve that role provided we have had an opportunity to review your event details with you beforehand. In most cases, a building coordinator will reach out to the OSE to confirm club status.