Creating a Budget That Works for You: What Your Student Organization Needs to Know

Map your AAUW student organization’s road to success with a budget that is both effective and efficient! This guide will show you how to make a budget and find funding for your AAUW projects.

Students at Kansas State University are ready to budget their feminist agenda for the year!

No matter what events or fundraisers you plan, your AAUW student organization will need to know how to create a budget. Plus, it’s a great professional skill to put on your résumé!

AAUW Fundraising Guidelines

The key takeaways from this policy are

  1. Funds raised must go to support your student organization’s campus programs and must directly relate to AAUW’s mission. You can also raise money to support student organization members attending the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) or other AAUW campus leadership programs.
  2. Fundraising for other organizations at meetings and events is not allowed.
  3. Feel free to collaborate with other like-minded student organizations or work with local charities to provide in-kind donations like services or goods.

If you have any questions about AAUW’s fundraising guidelines, please e-mail leadership@aauw.org.

Make a Game Plan

The budgeting process involves three key steps:

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1. Create Your Budget

Define your student organization’s goals. 
Use AAUW’s mission to guide your goal setting. Always ask yourself how your event is directly related to empowering women and girls and to AAUW’s public policy priorities. Also, define your operating parameters.

  • Do you want to always reserve a certain amount to start the next year with?
  • Will your events be fundraisers, or will they require fundraising beforehand to pull them off?
  • What tone do you want to set? AAUW issues can be weighty, but not all your events have to be. People like to have fun and feel good about helping solve societal problems!

Start planning.
Use an Excel spreadsheet or a budget template to plan your year. As you figure out how much money you can spend on your program(s) or event(s) ask yourself: Does your student government association provide your student organization with a stipend? Does your organization need to fundraise?

Consider what costs your student organization will have throughout the year. Here are a few examples to get you started.

  • Promotion:Many student organizations advertise their meetings and events through social media, but take it a step further! Budget for the printing of posters, flyers, and even giveaways. (This is a good place to ask local businesses to help and offset costs. And remember, AAUW members get a discount on printing and supplies from Office Depot and OfficeMax!)
  • Food and beverages:It’s well known that college students love free food — and are much more likely to come to an event that offers snacks. (Maybe your local pizza place or café will offer you some free food in exchange for publicity!)
  • Performer fees:Big-name speakers require big fees, so you should look at new performers who are still establishing their reputations as speakers. Even better? Look into people who will speak at your meetings or events for free!
  • Facility rental:Check with your adviser to see what charges apply for the use of campus facilities. Many rooms are free or cheap for student organization use.
  • Production:Follow your university’s policies for sound, lights, staging, insurance, professional labor costs, security, licenses, permits, legal advice, accounting, or other expenses associated with the program. And remember, some students in art production are also looking to get experience prior to job hunting and might be willing to donate their time to enhance their résumés!

Be realistic and resourceful.
Create a checklist to make sure that you’ve considered all the different financial aspects of the programs that you plan. The sooner you take these costs into consideration, the more time you have to fundraise and find collaborators on campus who can share costs.

2. Apply for Funding

You have a stellar budget planned. Now, make sure you have the funding you need! Every campus is different, but some schools allow you to apply for funding after you register as an official student organization. Once you learn the protocol for student organizations at your school, work with your adviser on submitting a budget proposal.Here are some tips to make your proposal stand out:

  • Describe your budget in detail. Be clear about what exactly your spending will give to your campus community.
  • Meet with your collaborators ahead of time to strengthen your application.
  • If you received funds in the past, make sure you describe how you used those funds effectively and how you will use them this year for an even better event.
  • Be creative! Come up with a unique idea to raise awareness about gender equity on your campus. Write in detail about how your organization will put in the work to bring your idea to life.

Plan fundraisers.

Not only is fundraising a life skill and résumé builder, but it allows you to maximize your impact on the issues you care about most. This is especially helpful if your organization is low on funds! Check out our fundraising resource so your student organization can learn AAUW’s fundraising guidelines and set up your CrowdRise account. Regularly scheduled events are also a good way to keep your group fresh in people’s minds. For example, you might hold a monthly bake sale outside the library on the first Friday of the month.

Find out how AAUW can help fund your work.
If your school doesn’t offer funds or you fall short of your desired budget, there are other funding options to consider.

Partnering with other organizations can lower costs.
Collaborate with other student groups, departments and community organizations when planning your events and budgets. This will decrease costs, raise attendance, and help with recruitment. Some possible collaborators to consider include

Are you being inclusive?
Reaching out to diverse student organizations on campus is just one way to start making your AAUW student organization more inclusive. Check out AAUW’s Diversity and Inclusion Tool Kit for more ideas!

  • Student organizations with similar missions
  • Women and gender studies departments or political science departments
  • Diversity and inclusion or multicultural offices, including your campus Women’s Center
  • Fraternity/sorority life
  • Student activities or student life offices
  • The athletics department
  • Dean of students office
  • Community organizations such as professional women’s associations, large corporations, civic leaders, etc.
  • Your local AAUW branchesand Younger Women’s Task Force chapters. Depending on your program, branches and chapters may be the perfect collaborators. E-mail leadership@aauw.org so we can help connect you.

3. Keep Impeccable Records (and All Your Receipts!)

Maintain accurate and timely financial records for your organization. Future leaders of your organization will thank you! Serious problems can arise when the student responsible for the record keeping (usually the treasurer) gets behind in their duties.Accurate budget records will also be a big help when it’s time to create next year’s budget. When you’re looking ahead to next year, you should answer questions such as

  • How much money was spent on a specific program or event in the previous year?
  • How much are we proposing to spend in the upcoming year?
  • Do we know of any costs that are increasing?
  • Which items are new to this year’s budget?
  • Which items can we eliminate compared with last year’s budget?
  • Where is our money coming from?
  • What are some of the fundraising challenges we might face in the upcoming year?

Even if you’re not the treasurer, don’t ignore your budget — no matter how small. Your officers should stay informed on a regular basis. Budgeting is a group process so make sure everyone is involved in planning your fundraising and spending, including your adviser.

Connect with other AAUW student leaders by joining the official Facebook group for AAUW student organization leaders or e-mailing leadership@aauw.org.


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