Fitness programs, staff members and equipment are just some of the many components that make up a functioning campus recreation department. And while unique in several ways, each shares one distinct quality: They all cost money. And to manage those costs, you need a budget.
Budgeting is the road map for how much money you will spend in the upcoming year, and this practice is a cornerstone of every campus recreation department. It’s the way you ensure you stay in the black — or as close to it as possible — each year.
To provide some tips for budgeting, we spoke with two associate directors at Northeastern University in Boston: Omar Rouhana, the associate director of campus recreation — business and technology, and Pamela Wetherbee-Metcalf, the senior associate athletic director.
CR: Describe some of the best practices for budgeting for the upcoming school year.
OR: We create detailed budgeting, forecasting and planning models by following the F.A.S.T. model:
CR: Are there any areas of the budget you should prioritize more than others?
PWM: Staffing — facility hours and programming — staff training and equipment/operational expenses will be the greatest areas of need. The department should have a pre-established staffing model, and as such, know the required allocated budget to end the year in the black. The staffing model should be designed to reduce areas and timeframes with too much staff, and areas where supervision should be greater and adjust staff and funds accordingly. This will help eliminate wasteful spending.
Utilize federal work-study funds as much as possible. Based on past expenses and any new entries and space availability, your budget managers can forecast future programming payroll. It’s important to also keep in mind merit increases, changes to the minimum wage and federal work-study award changes will almost always affect your budget forecast.
Cardio and strength equipment upgrades should be part of a capital equipment replacement plan on a 10-year minimum cycle, depending on the type of equipment and the volume of use. Towels and other expendable items, such as sports and fitness equipment, that typically experience significant wear and tear should be on a semester cycle — or more often — for replacement.
CR: What are some creative ways you can save money year to year?
OR: Here are some of the things we do:
CR: Any other tips for budgeting?
PWM: We follow these simple rules:
Set a commitment in your department to always find ways to save.