SA Gives, a fund run through the Student Association (SA) that rewards student groups for volunteer work, will not be returning for the 2019-20 academic year because of administrative challenges, according to SA Congress minutes from April 8.
According to Kevin Darrell, vice president for finance and a senior double-majoring in accounting and mathematics, the fund was removed because of management policy changes made by the SA Congress, including the removal of the Community Discretionary Account.
“For the 2018-19 fiscal year, only $500 of the $1,500 in the fund had been utilized,” Darrell wrote in an email. “Additionally, it was difficult to make Congress representatives attend [and] be motivated to want to be a part of the committee which makes up SA Gives.”
Darrell also wrote that he was not involved in the termination of the program.
While SA Gives was active, student groups that would like to hold a community service event would submit an application for a grant that would reimburse the group for the event. In partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), the SA Gives Review Committee would review the application and approve or deny the funds.
According to Laura Reindl, assistant director for communications at the CCE, the CCE has held a supporting role to SA Gives by marketing the program to student groups.
“The CCE has served in a supportive role over the last few years, helping the SA Gives Committee vet applications and market the program,” Reindl wrote in an email. “We were happy to support the Student Association’s efforts to prioritize community engagement among SA-chartered organizations.”
Harry Bittker, BU Council student representative and a senior majoring in political science, helped draft the bill to end SA Gives. Bittker wrote in an email that the fund was designed to encourage more students and student groups to conduct volunteer service, but the program itself did not help increase volunteer efforts, although SA-chartered organizations have become more involved with community service.
“What we’ve seen among student groups is that student leaders are collaborating with other organizations and forming stronger partnerships, a trend that’s been present beyond volunteer efforts,” Bittker wrote. “But at the same time, while all this progress is being made, the SA Gives fund wasn’t really driving it. I could count on one hand the number of applications the fund has received over the past two years.”
Bittker added that representatives that presided on the SA Gives Review Committee needed to be trained to become a certified treasurer in order to administer the fund, which he wrote was not worth the time.
“Especially because of low utilization, the amount of training involved in operating the committee at a high standard would have been almost more time intensive than the work of the committee itself,” Bittker wrote.
Bittker wrote that the money allocated to SA Gives will be distributed into the SA’s account, but will be added to funding for the SA’s philanthropic organizations.
“Our total allocation to student organizations this year increased by about $45,000, through a process in which the Finance Committee evaluates each request based on the group’s performance during the year and the merits of their proposal,” Bittker wrote. “Of that $45,000, about $6,500 was given to primarily philanthropic organizations, which, in aggregate, is really reflective of both the operational strength of these organizations and the impact they’re having on campus and beyond.”
Brianna Manginelli, a sophomore majoring in human development and an e-board member for She’s the First, a nonprofit organization that aids women in low-income countries to receive an education, said she disagreed with the end of SA Gives and asserted that volunteering is essential toward working together as a society.
“I believe as an optimally functioning society, it is necessary to work together, and I see volunteering as prime action to back up that statement,” Manginelli said. “To hear that the SA is ending SA Gives is a shame, because it’s taking money away from a good cause.”