Student Organization Financial Management
As a Carnegie Mellon student organization (org), you have an obligation to manage your finances in order to grow and to maintain the health of your organization. Whether you're a finance whiz or new to the process, the Office Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) has guided resources to support your organization's success.
Contact SLICEfinance@andrew.cmu.edu with specific finance questions for your student organization.
Quick Facts to Get Started
- Each student organization has a unique university account referred to as an Oracle account with its own unique Oracle string.
- There are several types of accounts that organizations can manage depending on their status within the University, type of allocation, donation, or sponsorship.
- Money can only be spent from the organization’s oracle account with an Authorized Signer’s permission.
- Each organization is recommended to keep track of all expenditures, reimbursements, and revenue (dues, fundraising, ticket sales, etc.) no matter what account and how the organization is funded.
Understand Your Account Type
All student organizations have an "Agency" account. This is the primary account for most organizations, where JFC allocations, fundraisers and membership dues are deposited. The agency account is considered separate from the university, and is not included in Carnegie Mellon University’s Financial Statements. Agency accounts are still expected to comply with some University policies. However, there are some exceptions.
JFC allocations come from the student activities fee. It is imperative that student organizations make ethical and responsible choices with how they spend their org funds. These funds are paid for by other CMU students, and the expenses should be reflective of activities that all students would reasonably agree to contribute to the student experience.
Gift AccountsAll student organizations have a gift account. It is important to note that while donations are made to a specific student organization, the funds are included in the Carnegie Mellon Financial Statements, therefore they are subject to Carnegie Mellon University Gift policies and procedures. Gift accounts are where donated funds are deposited. These donations do not require anything in return.
Gift account funds can be spent on items that are in line with the mission of the organization and of Carnegie Mellon. Some restrictions apply including, but not limited to: no transfers to another account; no donations; no housing payments (FSL organizations); no refunds of any sort; no alcohol (unless the Director of SLICE grants an exception); membership dues cannot be made to a gift account, only to an org account.
Some organizations may have crowdfunding accounts. Crowdfunding is coordinated through the Annual Giving office, and there is a Crowdfunding Annual Application process to have a crowdfunding project and crowdfunding account. Crowdfunding is a way to obtain external donations for projects that benefit the CMU community.
There are restrictions for what can be purchased from a crowdfunding account. Organizations must adhere to the restrictions in their crowdfunding agreement. For more information email Jackie Otto or call 412-268-3049.
Fraternity & Sorority Life (FSL) Organization Account
JFC Capital Account
The JFC Capital Account is a separate account that holds all organization's capital allocations. Capital expenses are items that will be used over the course of multiple fiscal years. Students will not be able to see the JFC Capital Account on the Bridge. In order to see what money has been approved for capital purchases, students must check their budget to see what was approved for capital purchases.
Authorized signers will need to submit a JFC Capital Request Form to get approval to use JFC Capital Funds. Attach the approved JFC Capital Form to the form submitted to SLICE.
The Carnegie Mellon University threshold for a capital item is $5,000. Depending on the type of expense, students may see an item labeled “capital” on the Bridge.
Outside Bank Account
To protect the interests of student organizations and the university, no student government recognized student organization is permitted to hold an off-campus bank account or an organizational Paypal or Venmo account. Also, students are not allowed to use any application that requires money to be processed through a bank account.
As they maintain external recognition through the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, fraternity and sorority chapters are considered exempt from this policy.
A sponsorship involves obtaining funding or other forms of support for a specific event, project or activity. Sponsors can be considered either qualified or non-qualified. A qualified sponsorship is when the sponsor is not receiving a substantial benefit in return. A non-qualified sponsorship is when the sponsor is receiving advertising and/or a substantial benefit in return.
All Sponsorships over $5,000 require a sponsorship agreement because they are usually more complex. SLICE will work with Annual Giving to assist with getting an agreement. Some organizations have sponsorships with restrictions that require a separate account to ensure the funds are specifically spent in accordance with the sponsorship agreement. SLICE can assist with getting a sponsorship account created and making sure the restrictions for these accounts are followed.
Purchasing, Spending & Revenue
Once you have a basic understanding of managing your student organization's finances, you can focus your efforts on bringing in revenue, purchasing and spending.
Tracking Your Finances
Each organization is recommended to keep track of all expenditures, reimbursements, and revenue (dues, fundraising, ticket sales, etc.) no matter what account and how the organization is funded.
Access Your Finance Transactions on TartanConnect
Each organization has a Finance Accounts page on their organization's TartanConnect webpage. It shows your balance and all your financial transactions for each account.
- The TartanConnect Accounts page will be updated approximately three times a month and Authorized Signers will receive an email notification from TartanConnect.
- The Authorized Signer should review the transactions and compare them to their own records. For questions about a particular transaction, email SLICE.
Manage your Budget
The Authorized Signer should be keeping track of actual vs budgeted expenses and revenue. Using an excel spreadsheet is a helpful tool in tracking financial transactions. Here is an example of a tracking spreadsheet. To use this tracking spreadsheet, be sure to download it as a Microsoft Excel document.
It is important for the Authorized Signer and Program Planner to work together on event spending and revenue needed in order to stay within budget and spend according to the JFC line items allocated.
While it’s normal for your budget to change and shift throughout the year, as the Authorized Signer, you will have to adjust to cover additional costs or resolve a deficit. Please contact the SBVPF if line items need to be changed.
Training & Materials
At the beginning of the fall or spring semester, student organization leaders wishing to become one of the two members of their organization who are able to sign for their CMU bank accounts (Authorized Signers) can attend SLICE's REACH Training Program. This training must be completed annually.
Whether you're looking for training or need a finance refresher, the Office of SLICE has official training modules, videos and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs ) to help manage your organization's financial needs.
Traveling & Making Appointments
We want to help you get to where you're going. You can utilize various SLICE services or meet with a staff member to help you navigate your organization's finances.
Making Travel Arrangements
The SLICE office has the ability to assist organizations with travel arrangements through direct booking through Concur or through a scheduled travel meeting. SLICE can arrange for direct payment from your student organization's financial account for automotive transportation, air travel and/or lodging reservations.