OBC streamlines allocations process

The Organization Budget Council, a funding board of the Student Fee Committee, is implementing a new system for allocating student fee dollars to student organizations to streamline the process.

The Organization Budget Council, a funding board of the Student Fee Committee, is implementing a new system for allocating student fee dollars to student organizations to streamline the process.

In the past, student groups usually applied for funding a year in advance by submitting a budget request outlining future spending to either the OBC or SFC.  

According to Sean Green, one of the coordinators for the OBC, the new system has all student organizations being placed into one of three “tiers” based on a number of factors, including engagement and programming needs. 

Green said the tiers place a $3,000, $15,000 or $30,000 limit on the total amount of funds available to student organizations over the course of a year.  

Apart from a “baseline” budget of $500, $2,000 or $5,000—which can be spent on anything with adviser approval and is designed to provide more operational flexibility—student organizations must apply for what is called a “programming” budget, which is used to fund any events they wish to hold, according to Green.

To apply for programming funds, a student organization submits a request on OrgSync, an online management system for student organizations. The request is reviewed by the OBC at one of its twice-weekly meetings after the organization’s adviser reviews and approves the request for policy compliance.  

The SFC decided in June 2010 to transfer budgeting authority for all student groups to the OBC for the 2011–12 fiscal year. The OBC will be responsible for allocating $500,000 to over 100 student groups, which is an increase from last year’s allocation of $85,000 to 65 student groups. 

According to Green, this was done, in part, to allow the SFC to focus on its main task of setting the student incidental fee—a figure determined partly by how much money is requested each year by student groups, student services, among others—and provide more oversight to the allocation of the $13 million in student fee dollars.

“The new funding model for student organizations that are recognized by Student Activities and Leadership Programs (SALP) creates a fair system,” Shattuck said, explaining that in previous years, only organizations that were funded by the SFC were eligible for privileges such as access to an office space, travel funds and stipends for officers.

In addition, money for each OBC-funded group was capped at $1,500 last year, whereas SFC-funded groups had no cap.  

“The new OBC system is committed to working directly with student organizations and only student organizations,” Lindsay Bing, one of the coordinators with the OBC, said. “The OBC therefore has more time to devote to communicating with student organizations about their needs.” 

Another feature of the new funding system is that it will allow the OBC to actively respond to student groups that need more money, while making sure that other groups do not tie up large amounts of money for the year.  

According to Green, at the end of last year some groups had a lot of money left over from their allocation. For example, the Vietnamese Student Association had $6,533 left over from its $17,293 budget.

Out of 100 student groups, the Portland Pre-Health Society had the largest amount of unspent funds, with $16,890 remaining. The total amount of allocated funds left unspent by all student organizations was $284,484. 

This means that some groups end the year with a large pot of money in reserve, while other groups struggle to raise money to put on an event.  

Under the new system, funding for events are given on an ‘as-needed’ basis to student groups.

To accommodate the increased workload from the SFC groups, the OBC will increase the number of coordinators from three to five next year. The council will ultimately be comprised of three hired coordinators and two that are elected for two-year staggered terms voted on by student organizations (each organization gets two votes).  

The OBC plans to finish assigning student groups into their respective tier by May 2. ?