President Jack O'Neill gives us an insight into how finances the Students' Union's finances work, and how we reinvest the money that we make into improving the services we offer.
Sometimes it may seem confusing trying to understand how we operate, and crucially, how our finances work. As a registered charity, we are not for profit and all our activities that generate surplus get reinvested back into everything that we do – whether this be the support from the Advice Centre, employing students in our venues, developing our student groups or supporting our volunteers.
We're committed to operating in a transparent way so that you, our members, can understand how your Union is run. One way that you can do this is to check out our Value For Money project that is dedicated to doing just that.
It costs around £1.4m per year to run the charitable side of the Union – including our representation, advice and Student Opportunities activity. This includes staff and non-staff costs, as well as the less obvious stuff like keeping our buildings up to scratch and IT services.
To fund this we get an annual grant from the College of around £850k, which means we need to generate the rest ourselves. We do this through external sales to companies for advertising and attending events like Freshers' Fair and our weekly Market Day, but around £350k needs to be generated in contribution from our trading services (the shop, our bars and events).
A balance needs to be struck between ensuring that we have enough funding for our core services, while providing you with great services and good value. When you spend money at the shop, buy tickets for our events or spend money at our bars, most of that money is spent on buying the stock, paying the acts and running the outlets themselves, but a small proportion contributes to funding the Union's other activities.
As a charity, we are not for profit, and every penny we generate goes back into improving what we do for you. Every time you purchase a sandwich in the Union Shop, for example, it contributes to the £100k+ of funding we provide clubs and societies. Or every VK you buy at the SU or Medicine helps fund our Advice Centre, which fights for students on a daily basis on academic and housing issues.
Want to try it for yourself and understand some of the decisions we have to make? Head on over to the Value For Money page and see the impact of raising/reducing the cost of services across the SU and the impact this might have on our budgets.
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX