A budget is a crucial feature of a GO. It makes your GO different from sustainability initiatives that are run on a voluntary basis. The budget allows you to pay salaries compensate students and staff, get an office space and pay for project expenditures.
The budget size of existing GOs varies from 164 000 Euro to 15 000 Euros per year. The main difference between these budgets is how much support the GO gets from the university. Experience shows that a minimum budget of 50 000 Euro is necessary for a GO to operate according to the 6 GO Principles.
For any budget calculations you can use the budget template on our website. You can also send us an email so that we can share some budgets from successful GO funding applications. We are also happy to provide feedback on a first draft of your budget.
Here are some of the items you need to include in a budget and steps you can take to obtain the information:
(1) Salaries: Paying the salaries of student employees and staff is the largest post within the budget. The amount of money you need depends on the hourly wage for students and staff (the gross wage they get), as well as overhead costs (extra administrative costs your university charges).
To get this information, look on the website of your university to find a contact person at human resources or the finance department. Write this person an email to schedule a meeting, call them or pass by their office. In the meeting, you can explain what information you would need and why. Alternatively, you can also find a financial officer, manager or accountant at the institute or faculty that you study. These people should also be able to provide you with this information.
(2) Events and campaigns: These costs thus depend on the events and campaigns you want to organise in the period you ask for funding.
For events – such as a lecture series, workshops, open day, networking evening – you might need money to rent rooms, pay for catering, speakers fees and travel, and the design of promotion materials. For campaigns, you might need to invest into online software to run a social media campaign or develop an app or hire a professional designer and photographer.
There is no golden rule how much money you need for this. At some institutions, you can get office space for free, at others you need to pay for it. Catering will be cheaper if you buy things yourself than if you hire a catering company. Just make a rough estimation of how many and what types of events and campaigns you want to organise.
(3) Projects and programmes: Projects and programmes can incur expenditures with regards to materials (e.g. LED lighting pilot), and printing (e.g. annual sustainability reports). Especially projects that want to change building infrastructure will require larger investments. Again, you need to have a rough idea what types of projects you want to do and how much they would cost.
Once your GO is established, the team can also write business cases and proposals to acquire extra funding from other departments, the city, governments or foundations. This is especially important if you want to organise big projects like building retrofits, solar cells or electric charging stations.
(4) Office space and equipment: At some institutions, office space can be provided for free, whereas at others you will need to rent office space from your university. Visit the website of your university and find the section that shows an organisational chart or explains the way the different departments are organised.
You then need to find someone working in facility services / administration who is responsible for real estate. Most universities have one or two people working in that department who have an overview about which spaces are available and how much they cost. Again, you need to talk to these people.
(5) Weekend working retreats: Leaving the city to move to a farm or the coast for a weekend with your whole team, and the new recruits. This allows you to bond, organise team transitions, evaluate the last year and plan the time ahead. Depending on how big your team is and where you want to go, you can calculate between 500 to 1000 Euro for a weekend retreat.
(6) GO Summit and Conferences: Participate in the annual GO Summit to meet up with other GOs. Depending on where the summit takes place, participation costs 200-400 Euro per person for transportation, accommodation and food. We always try to make sure that GOs can at least attend with two people. Then you might want to add money to visit other GOs and attend regional or national sustainability conferences to present your work, learn and connect with other initiatives.
(7) Training: It is important to invest in the training of student employees, volunteers and staff so that they have the knowledge, skills and values, they need to work professional and enable the GO to have an impact. We suggest two trainings by rootAbility per year. Just get in touch with us so that we can tell you how much this would be.
(8) GO Movement Membership: Participation in the GO Movement creates a lot of benefits for GOs, such as participating in the annual GO summit, research projects, funding applications, knowledge exchange and external communications. All this work that benefit all GOs is funded through a membership fee that GOs pay. Get in touch with us to learn more about membership.
Text by Felix Spira. Thanks to GO Initiative Trier for the question on what items to include in a budget. Photo by Tax Credits, Flickr, Creative Commons