There are many contributing factors to running a successful student organization. Strong financial management is one that can go a long way toward sustaining your organization. As a first step, we address ways in which your student organization may request funding.
Section 1: Funding Sources
Student Activity Budget Committee
The Student Activity Budget Committee (SABC) acts on all requests for student activity funding. Members of the committee are appointed by the President of the Student Government Association.
SABC directly allocates money for student organizations based on annual funding requests and specific requests brought before the student senate.
For specific details on requesting annual funding, please visit the Student Government Association Documents webpage and scroll down to Student Activities Budget Committee. For information on specific funds requests, please contact a Student Government Senator.
Regardless of funding source, organizations or individuals that receive funding need to adhere to the specific purposes and policies that govern the assessment and use of student activity fee funds. For more information on appropriate and inappropriate expenditures of Student Activity Fees, please visit Student Fees in the Business Procedures Manual from the University System of Georgia.
One co-sponsorship opportunity is with the Campus Activities Board (CAB). CAB is an institutional organization charged with handling the entire event programming budget, which includes money to co-sponsor student events such as speakers, movies, and other programming for a general audience. These events must be open to the entire Georgia College community. To request co-sponsorship, simply complete the required paperwork and present your request to the CAB Executive Board during one of their meetings.
Section 2: Financial Procedures and Guidelines
The Department of Campus Life recommends the adoption of the following measures to ensure that standards of good financial management and practice are achieved. These guidelines are presented as suggestions for assuring the financial integrity of each organization. We also wish to expose you to procedures and guidelines that will prevent you from violating university, local, State and Federal policies and/or laws.
A. Tax Reporting Regulations
Student organizations are not Federally Tax-Exempt Nonprofit Organizations. Only the federal government can confer charitable status on an organization. Filing for charitable status (501(c)(3) status) is a lengthy legal procedure, which then commits the organization to the rigorous annual reporting requirements required by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Due to annual reporting requirements and the frequent turnover of student leadership, we do not recommend student organizations file for this status.
If your organization is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, you must file special financial reports annually. For more Tax Information for Charities and Other Non-Profits, please visit https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations.
B. Obtaining a Tax ID Number (FEIN)
A Tax ID Number or EIN (Employer Identification Number), is like a social security number for your organization. Student organizations are often in situations that require a Federal Tax ID Number (opening an organizational bank account). No student organization is permitted to use the tax identification number of the University or any auxiliary. Its purpose is so the IRS will not make you personally responsible for taxes on revenue that you have earned.
How do you get a Tax ID Number? You may contact the IRS and request a Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number) or visit their website in order to request an EIN online. This form can be accessed at the following location: https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-ss-4-application-for-employer-identification-number-ein. Plan ahead because processing can take 2-4 weeks.
C. Completing a W-9 Form
In order to work with selected fundraisers, a student organization must complete a W-9 form from the IRS. In order to do this, the group must have or obtain a Tax ID Number. The W-9 5-3 form can be accessed at the following location: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf.
D. Donations and Scholarships
All gifts to Georgia College are accepted and administered by the GC Foundation, an official 501(c)(3) auxiliary organization of Georgia College. For further information, contact the Department of University Advancement at (478) 445-5400.
E. Consultant Payments
Most student organizations do not pay salaries to their members or hire consultants. No earnings of an undergraduate organization may accrue to individual members. If your organization would like to pay a salary to a member or provide another form of remuneration, you must first obtain approval from the Department of Campus Life. Salaries will ordinarily conform to the standard wage for student employment, although special consideration may be given for an organization's manager.
If you hire or contract with someone for a service to your organization (e.g. coach, an accompanist, or an event planner) and that person's single or cumulative payments exceed $600 in a year, you must submit a 1099 Form reporting that payment to both the consultant and the IRS. (The amount is determined annually by the IRS and should be confirmed by your organization. Form 1099 can be obtained at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1099msc.pdf.
F. Officers' Responsibilities: Checks and Balances
Your organization is responsible for its own finances and financial records. The University will provide guidance if needed, but the responsibility rests with the leadership of the student organization. In order to maintain good financial control, it is necessary for more than one person to hold responsibility for financial transactions. The philosophy of checks and balances is an important one to maintain because Georgia College & State University holds all officers responsible for any debts incurred on behalf of the organization if the organization does not have sufficient funds to pay for an expense.
G. Bank Accounts
Student Organizations may choose to do their banking with any financial institution. It is recommended that all bank statements be mailed to the address below to ensure access for all officers involved in the organization. This is the Department of Campus Life Office address and all mail received is distributed to organization mailboxes.
Have bank statements mailed to:
Your Student Org's Name
Georgia College Box 02, Student Center
231 West Hancock Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061
H. Financial Training Seminars
Throughout the academic year, student organization Presidents and Treasurers can attend various workshops offered by the Department of Campus Life. These workshops cover general accounting concepts, important information about keeping records, and other critical business information regarding insurance, contracts, annual filing requirements, etc. The Department of Campus Life will send out information regarding these seminars to all student organization Presidents and Treasurers early in the fall semester.
I. Planning the Fiscal Year
The officers of each student organization must determine for themselves an optimal time at which the finances for the organization should be wrapped up for the year. The decision may be based on any number of factors such as the primary activity of the organization, the end of the academic year, or prior to or after the election period for new officers. Georgia College & State University's fiscal year runs July 1- June 30.
J. Periodic Reporting
Officers should and must know the financial standing of the organization (income, expenses, encumbrances, etc.) at all times throughout the year in order for the organization to make accurate decisions about future events and expenses. Depending on the complexity of your student organization, the Treasurer should make no less than one formal report each semester to the other officers of the organization (and/or members, depending on the organization's constitution). The report must be reviewed and approved by the officers. All officers should give signed approval of these reports. (Please note that officers will be held responsible whether or not these approvals are made.) The lack of attention and accountability of financial matter is viewed by the Department of Campus Life as neglect by all officers of the organization.
At the beginning of each fiscal year, the officers should plan the potential activities of the year and create a budget for each of these activities. This budget will then provide a general basis to determine how all funds of the organization will be used in the coming year. Be certain to document the key assumptions you have made in creating your budget. This document should include:
- Last year's actual expenses and income
- The present year's budget (projected expenses and expected income)
- The present year's actual year-to-date-total expenses and income
- The variances between budgeted and actual expenses and income.
L. Collecting Income
Cash receipts include all revenue collected by your organization as cash or checks. Whenever possible, it is important that actual cash not be used by your organization -- using cash for transactions prevents accountability of officers and is difficult to track and document. Your organization should request that income to your organization be in the form of check or cashier's check, made payable to the organization. All revenue must be deposited in the organization's bank account and recorded in the organization's Cash Receipts Log Sheet immediately upon receipt. Checks should be deposited frequently (at least weekly).
M. Paying Bills
Cash disbursement (or "accounts payable") is the process of paying the expenses of your organization and entering those payments in your financial record. Organizations are encouraged to use the Student Organization Management System (GC Connect) to simplify record-keeping and reconciliation. Payments or reimbursements should only be used for expenses that are for the purpose of the organization, as the organization has defined its mission in its constitution. In other words, student organizations are not permitted to use the organization's bank account for individuals' expenses.
By following some basic guidelines, your organization will be well on the way to sound financial management.
- Pay bills with check, not cash.
- Require two signatures to make a check valid.
- Keep good documentation of bills received and paid.
- Pay within the vendor's terms and avoid interest charges or late fees.
- Stamp invoices "PAID" to avoid double payment.
- Reconcile checkbook register and the bank statement balances monthly. The Treasurer should gain the President of the organization's signature on the reconciliation documenting the review process.
- Pay for personal expenses with organizational funds.
- Pay bills twice (always mark invoices PAID once payment is sent).
- Pre-sign blank checks.
- Write checks payable to cash (except in the case of petty cash).
Invoices: To pay an invoice (bill) directly to a vendor, the member requesting the payment must submit a completed "Check Request Form" to the Treasurer. The form must be submitted with the original invoice, which clearly documents the nature of the expense, and packing slip (if applicable). In order to avoid duplicating payments to vendors, never pay from invoice copies or statements. This is a common error by student organizations. Always request new invoices from the vendor if necessary keep invoices on file for five years.
Personal Reimbursement: To reimburse a member of your organization, the member must submit to the Treasurer a completed "Check Request Form," an original receipt that clearly documents the nature of the expense, and a copy of the canceled check or credit card receipt.
Paying Invoices: The Treasurer should pay invoices on or before the invoice due date or within 30 days, using the following procedures:
- Approve the expense.
- Match the "Check Request Form" to the invoice and packing slip or receipt and canceled check/credit card payment.
- Complete the check and request a signature from the co-signatory.
- Write the invoice number on the check for payment or attach a copy of the receipt to the check.
- Place the check number and the date paid on the "Check Request Form."
- Send the check to the vendor or to the member requesting reimbursement.
- Enter payments into the checkbook register.
- File the invoice/receipt with the "Check Request Form" by vendor name.
- Mark invoices "PAID" with the date to reduce the risk of double payment.
Voiding Checks: If a check is written incorrectly, void it immediately by writing "VOID" across the face of the check and crossing out the signatures. Then file the voided check in sequential order with the canceled checks. Enter the check-in the checkbook register as usual and write "VOID."
Petty Cash Fund: If the officers of an organization strongly believe that some readily available cash is necessary to effectively run the organization, clear procedures must be instituted to track the flow. Petty cash disbursements are the only cash disbursements your organization should permit.
A petty cash fund simplifies reimbursements for small or unexpected expenditures. Do not use a petty cash fund as an operating fund -- such as for paying invoices for goods, or services, or making advances or loans to any person. Petty cash funds must be kept separate from other funds.
For one-time, special event petty cash fund, organizations may have money on hand to pay for travel expenses, to make change at an event, or to use overseas. The organization should keep detailed records of these petty cash fund expenses and close out the fund at the end of the event.
For more on-going petty cash funds, organizations should not have funds in excess of $50 and should only use these funds to reimburse members for small expenses. To establish a petty cash fund, the Treasurer prepares a "Check Request Form" made out to "Cash," documenting the check-in the checkbook register.
The petty cash fund must be kept in a secure location where only its custodian (the Treasurer) can obtain it and a separate ledger for the petty cash must be created.
Petty cash is a separate fund from all others, requiring a distinct form, the "Petty Cash Voucher," to disburse the funds. These vouchers must be stored in a separate location from the petty cash fund as must the ledger of transactions.
To withdraw from the petty cash fund, the person requesting the reimbursement fills out a "Petty Cash Voucher" and attaches the supporting original receipts.
The completed form and receipts are then submitted to the Treasurer who reviews and approves the voucher before disbursing the cash. The person receiving the cash also signs the form to confirm acceptance of the cash payment. The Treasurer files the voucher.
Replenish the petty cash fund when the cash level is low (around $10). The Treasurer must first reconcile the fund and then complete a "Check Request Form." The second authorized signer would review the Petty Cash Reconciliation Form and then write out a check for the necessary amount.
Purchasing: One or more individuals in your organization usually only officers, should be authorized to order goods and services. Only those people should make purchases on behalf of your group. If your organization is continuously ordering a large number of goods, contact different vendors to get estimates. Student organizations should compare for the best prices and service for your order. It might also make good financial sense to apply for membership to a wholesale club.
While these suggestions may not all be applicable to each organization, they do cover the financial activities that are most often encountered at GC. The leadership of each organization is encouraged to work directly with the Department of Campus Life as they review their organization's financial system and to consult with this office as major fundraising activities are planned.
N. Financial Reporting
One of the most important ways of supporting an organization is through the maintenance of good financial records. Clear financial records and procedures help to ensure that the funds are used in accordance with the goals of the organization and ensure that officers of your organization prioritize the activities for the year. The documents can also act as historical records, providing information on which past events were successful, which vendors had the best prices, and when activities took place.
Monthly Bank Account Reconciliation: The Treasurer must reconcile the bank statement with the checkbook register on a monthly basis (in some cases this is an online process with your bank).
The balance on the bank statement must equal the balance in the checkbook register minus any encumbered expenses (checks that have been written but not yet cashed), service charges, deposits, or accrued interest.
The following should be submitted to the other officers for signed approval on a monthly basis:
- The reconciliation statements of your accounts.
- The bank statement (can be printed from online access).
- The canceled checks and deposit slips for the current month.
- The prior month's reconciliation.
- The checkbook register.
Year-To-Date Financial Reports: The Treasurer must prepare a financial report at least each semester and at the end of the term of office. The financial report provides information about that period's financial activity and a year-to-date summary. One copy should be submitted with the student organization's fall renewal with the Director of Campus Life. The financial report should include the following:
- A balance sheet as of the end of the previous month.
- Statement of income and expenses for the entire fiscal year or fiscal year-to-date.
- Comparison of budget and actual income expenses.
Transition of Officers: The outgoing Treasurer should complete the following checklist prior to leaving office:
- File all financial records for the past year (receipts, monthly statements, etc.). Student organization records should be kept a minimum of five years.
- Complete the financial report.
- Review the financial report with the new Treasurer; submit one copy to the Director of Campus Life upon renewal. Discrepancies and resulting actions should be documented in writing.
- Reconcile all debts or have a written plan on file describing how any debts will be settled in the future.
- Change co-signers on the organization's bank accounts at your respective bank.
- Deliver all bank statements, checkbooks, and other financial information (including online passwords) to the new Treasurer.
O. Student Organization Filing Requirements
Student organization are viewed as legally distinct from GC and must independently comply with federal and state laws, including various filing requirements.