How we make budgeting decisions

By Justin Etzine January 30, 2019

Budgeting is hard.

Sure, there are the several financial concepts forming the core of the process, and there are policies and best practices to adhere to. While these are complex, I’m referring to the difficulty of the qualitative decisions.

With infinite funds, I would love for us to be able to fully fund every event, program, and activity we receive proposals for, assuming they are reasonable and comply with all policies and risk management expectations. With the many clubs we have, we could fill a complex of buildings with meeting spaces, event rooms, offices, and other spaces if we could give infinitely. But, realistically, we have to make the decision on what we can fund.

So, how do we decide?

The simplest solution comes in the form of our budgeting guidelines, now a part of the newly-passed Rensselaer Union Procedures & Guidelines. The Executive Board can make exceptions to these rules, but these typically form the basis of decisions. There are sections on basically every topic you could think of, ranging from food allowances to equipment purchases and coaches to travel.

The fundamental goal we try to follow underpins every aspect: how can we make decisions that benefit the most students possible? Ultimately, if something offered through clubs, activities, or other resources benefits every single student, I would consider our work perfectly successful.