Justifications for GSSF Expenses
Last updated 12/11/2020
The purpose of a justification is to ensure that groups spend money both in accordance with the approval given by the SSFC and in keeping with their mission. Justifications show that an organization is keeping its commitments through the GSSF.
It also guards against fraud and ensures that expenses are publicly defensible. The record of any given expense should be sufficient to fully contextualize that expense for the person reviewing it. Never assume that the reader knows what you're talking about, always describe as if it is for fresh eyes.
Justifications contribute to a record that tells "the public" (UW-Madison students, Madison residents, Wisconsin taxpayers, etc.) exactly why you are doing what you are doing. These kinds of records are common in the use of public funds (or in non-profit organizations) and are not unique to the GSSF.
Use the Justification Writing Template to help plan your event or expense.
What makes a good justification?
When writing a justification, students should always include:
- The date and title of the event, program, or purchase.
- The budget line that this will be coming from - please complete budget alterations BEFORE writing justifications for the expense.
- A thorough description of the expenditure (event, program, or purchase with relevant links as well).
- A thorough explanation of how the expenditure advances the organization's mission.
- A detailed breakdown of the estimated cost (for example, an event justification would include the number of speakers invited, honoraria for each, travel, lodging, advertising, food, space rental, equipment, etc.).
- A list of any co-sponsors of the event along with an attached and completed co-sponsorship form.
- An agenda of the event, program, etc.
- Any flyers or advertisements used to promote the event, program, etc.
- Any additional information the organization feels is relevant to the justification and would like to include.
The university does not require justifications when groups are purchasing basic office supplies such as pens, paper, staples, etc. This is the only exception to the justification requirement. Justifications will be require for more specific supplies and equipment.
ASM staff are often get asked "should we even bother writing a justification?" or "we'd like to know if we can even do this before we write a justification."
ASM staff cannot give an answer on if a certain program will be able to happen without all of the details provided by the justification. It's always best to submit a justification.
It may seem like a lot of work, but the more justifications you write, the quicker it is and the faster we can begin making purchases for your events, programs, or items.
Justifications should be submitted to the SSFC Financial Specialist at least a day in advance of any scheduled meeting you have to discuss the purchase. This allows time to review the justification and come prepared to discuss and answer or ask any questions that have come up.