Student Funding Board

HLS Student Organization Funding Guidelines
Student Funding Board
Harvard Law School

 The task of the Student Funding Board is to distribute funding among student organizations with widely divergent aims and interests. Each year HLS organizations collectively request nearly twice as much funding as is available. This year – with the economy in its current state, and with more student organizations and the same amount in the overall budget – the task will be particularly difficult. While the specific balance of funding priorities changes each year depending upon the membership of the SFB, the key considerations remain largely constant. These guidelines are issued to make the funding process more transparent.

The SFB encourages organizations to work together on similar projects and to ensure that a wide range of activities and organizations are funded; organizations and events that overlap significantly are funded on the assumption that they will co-sponsor some events. The SFB attempts to fund diverse views and student populations to ensure that the HLS is a welcoming and interesting community. Organization size is also a significant consideration for funding determinations to ensure that various populations and interest groups have adequate funds given the size of their constituencies. The SFB believes that open membership policies encourage campus involvement and dialogue; exclusive and limited membership policies are viewed unfavorably.

In making its determinations, the SFB draws upon budget proposals, organizational event and budget histories, current legal and cultural events, and the knowledge of the SFB as members of the HLS community.

  • Budget increases: Many organizations each year request large budget increases.  Because few of these requests can be honored, such requests should be supported by well-documented changed circumstances or new initiatives, as well as significant advance planning.
  • Social events: Striking a balance between the social, academic, and professional needs of HLS students is difficult, and the calculus changes year to year. Academic and professional organizations may request funds for social events for recruitment or community-building purposes, but those with excessive social budgets may not receive the full requested funding. All social events should be cost-effective for the number of students involved. Organizations with a primarily social purpose may not receive full funding for more expensive pursuits (for instance, HLS Yachting Club would receive a small portion of its total expenses). Organizations planning extravagant social events should seek outside funding.
  • Conferences: Conferences are very expensive; the student organization budget is not adequate to support all of the conferences planned for a given year. A variety of funding options exist for Harvard Law organizations seeking to hold conferences, including law firm sponsorships and fiscal support from national organizations. In most cases the SFB will attempt to provide adequate funds to allow organizations to begin planning while seeking alternate funding. Organizations seeking additional funds to start a new conference or expand an existing conference should have an established record of well-attended events.
  • Travel:  The SFB is unable to fully fund student travel to conferences and other events, but attempts to provide some funding to encourage such travel. Students are generally expected to fund a considerable portion of the expenses themselves. Organizations that split their travel budget among all interested students are viewed more favorably than those that fund a significant portion of the travel of select members or organization leaders.
  • Non-HLS individuals: The SFB carefully reviews events that benefit people other than HLS students.  Organizations planning events (other than academic conferences), particularly social events, that will be attended in large part by outside individuals should explain in their budgets how many HLS students will be attending; how many non-HLS students will be attending; whether the non-HLS students pay any dues or fees; and what benefit accrues to HLS students or the HLS community.
  • Community service: The SFB views community service favorably and attempts to fund it fully where possible. For community service events requiring travel, see above.
  • Fundraising: Harvard University funds may not be used to fundraise for outside organizations, including charitable causes.  No organization will receive funds for this purpose.